:Mindset / Success and goal setting

A conversation with Terry Rice on finding your zone of genius

Terry Rice Creator Month Terry Rice Creator Month

The following is a Q&A of Teachable creator Terry Rice of Terry Rice Coaching and Consulting hosted by Brittany Barnhart of Powerhouse Brand Studio.Terry Rice is a Business Development Consultant and Staff Writer at Entrepreneur magazine. He’s also the host of Launch Your Business, a podcast that helps entrepreneurs start their business, save time, and avoid burnout. After leaving the corporate world – which included roles at Adobe and Facebook – he started his own business in order to spend more time with his family. Unfortunately, he quickly realized there’s a big difference between being good at your job and being good at running a business. Frustrated and confused he spent the next 18 months discovering the actions, tools and mindset needed to succeed as a solopreneur. He now shares that guidance with other emerging business owners so they can scale their business without sacrificing their health or personal life. 

Terry is also an instructor at New York University, speaks at business development events on behalf of Amazon and Google, and has been featured as a subject matter expert by Good Morning America and the Wall Street Journal. Based in Brooklyn, he is a husband and father of four children. Listen to the conversation between Terry and Brittany that’s part of our Creator Month to learn more about how you can find your zone of genius and use it to launch your business successfully. 

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Video transcript

Brittany Barnhart: Hi, I’m Brittany, of Powerhouse Brand Studio and I help entrepreneurs build brands that attract and convert their audiences. Terry, what do you do?

Terry Rice: Yeah, my name is Terry Rice, and I’m a business development consultant. And that normally involves helping solopreneurs build their brand and revenue. I’m also a staff writer at Entrepreneur Magazine, and the host of the podcast, launch your business.

Brittany: That’s amazing. So we know that a ton of people are starting their businesses. Right now, there’s a huge influx and people wanting to be their own bosses. So what do you feel are some common reasons that people don’t start a business? Like what are some things that are keeping them back from actually starting?

Terry: Yeah, even if you want to start a business for one reason or another, there are normally three things that hold you back, I call them the three C’s. It’s lack of clarity, lack of cash, or lack of confidence, and actually put together this model that helps you get rid of all those excuses because the way you’re going to grow your business is based on the skills you already have. So pretend you worked as a marketing manager at some company, and you’re really loved email marketing. Great, then you go sell that as a service provider, and you’re on your merry way. So it actually democratizes access to entrepreneurship for people, because you can just follow this simple model.

Brittany: Yeah, I love that. A lot of times when my clients come to me to help kind of develop those branding aspects, a lot of times, it’s a lot of lack of clarity. And so we go through this process to help them figure out: Why are you starting in the first place? And really, what’s the impact that you want to have to help them figure out those actions? So on your end of things, what do you think are some initial steps that business owners should take, as are first starting out?

Terry: You want to start by doing some deep internal work, because the major problem I see with people who are looking to start a business is they seek external validation. And they’ll read all these blogs, or watch all these videos like “Here’s 55 ways to start a business, here’s 17 ways to start a business.” That’s confusing, it’s not helpful. 

So what I would say is, first of all, get very clear on your zone of genius, and your zone of genius. I’m borrowing this from the book, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. What you want to do is think to yourself is, “Okay, what are all the tasks I’ve done at various jobs over my career, what it was actually good at and enjoyed?” There you go, that was one of genius. Like I said before, maybe it’s email marketing. And then once you identify that, and of course, that walks through it, once you identify that there are several ways you can monetize your knowledge. And I’ll walk through this acronym as well as ACTION. The first is audits. So but then again, you’re really good at email marketing, you can offer audits to other companies to help them identify areas of optimization, and maybe we’re this messing up, right, so you’re doing these audits. The next thing is consulting. So, you’re going to consult companies on how to get better at email marketing, based on their industry and your expertise. The next step is training. Maybe after you’re consulting them, they’re like, “Look, you guys actually need training, like I’m telling you how to do this stuff, but you don’t have the skills to do it. So I will teach you and your team how to implement these various tactics that are recommended.” And after that, the “I” stands for implementation, right? So they have the consulting, they have the training, they don’t know how to actually implement the tools, right, they’re using a different tool for this use different tool for that, whatever it is, you’re going to help them do. So based on your knowledge. We’re still going here, the next letter is “O” and it stands for ongoing retainers. And I love getting these because you get paid on a regular basis to offer your zone of genius, your skill set, but you don’t have necessarily projects due every week or every month, you’re just there to answer questions as they come up. And the last, the end stands for new opportunities. What is that? I don’t know what’s new, you come up with it based on their area of need, and what you excel it. So maybe pretend it’s they have this agency and you’re teaching them how to do email marketing, you can say, “Hey, you know what, also work with your clients to help them better understand email marketing, therefore, you’re both integrated on your understanding of how this works. And you can move forward better.” So A C T I O N, pick one, pick them all, pick something, but all you have to do is identify your zone of genius. And which one of those lanes you want to swim in?

Brittany: Yeah, I absolutely love that model. Because it really just helps people at like, even just different phases of their business. So if you’re just starting out, you can easily follow that plan exactly. Or down the road. If you need to audit, like things aren’t working, or I’m pivoting to a new audience. That’s such an easy model to actually follow. So with that in mind, how do we get clients? How do we actually start getting clients in the door?

Terry: Here’s the thing. I mean, I think people initially think they have to do cold emails or cold sales calls or post all day on social media or DM people, begging them to give them the time of the day. But I’ve interviewed thousands of entrepreneurs and helped many more actually grow their business. The number one way that you’re going to get clients initially is through your network. That’s how you get clients. So right now you either know someone or know someone who knows your first client. So, therefore, once you get clear on what you do, I help e-commerce companies leverage email marketing so they can grow their list and make more money. That’s all you have to say. And then reach out and say, “Hey, Omar, do you know someone who needs my help?” So please start there. Think of ex co-workers, friends, family colleagues, or maybe you’re a member of some kind of community, reach out to those people first and say, “Do you know someone who might need my help?” And then after that, yeah, sure, go on social media start posting content. But I think if I’m just starting out building my brand, the easiest thing to do is just think of 10 questions that your audience might have. In this case, it’s about email marketing, but it’s about whatever your zone of genius is, and then answer them with content. Right? So someone might say, “How often should I email people?” I don’t know. I’m not an expert. But right, the answer to that, there you go. That’s your content. So start with the audience, your network, though, because that’s where we’re gonna get your first “Yes.” And then sure, eventually go ahead and start creating content to bring in, you know, cold leads. But don’t start there. Because you’ll get frustrated very quickly. And you’re taking the worst approach to it, because it’s way too hard.

Brittany: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like in the beginning, I talked to a lot of new business owners, and we often try to prioritize those revenue-generating opportunities for them. So it’s like, where should you strategically be spending your time so that you can start making money, getting that experience, and then figuring out who you want to work with, because a lot of times, like you said, they start with trying to figure out who your ideal client is trying to just like, start completely from scratch. But if you could find opportunities within your own network, or find ways to partner with another business that’s complementary to you, that’s super beneficial for any new business owner to start gaining traction. So on your end, how do you think people can continue to learn more about their audience as they’re just getting started?

Terry: Yeah, well, I’m you’re on I know, you’re an expert here. So  I’m gonna flip it on you tell me how you help your clients do your research. I’m curious.

Brittany: Yeah. So a lot of time, I’ll have them do a mix of either audience research or a little bit of social listening. And so the audience resource can take a couple of different forms. And so this can either be through a series of Instagram Stories, if they have like an engaged audience there, either through a Google Form to send to people or through like one-on-one interviews with those people that you have that established relationship with. And we usually try to identify roughly like five questions that are really beneficial to the business owner to know so that they can take better action moving forward. And so that’s usually how I guide my clients just to obtain more audience research in a branding perspective.

Terry: Yeah, so do all that stuff. This, I mean, one way that I got very clear on what my audience wanted and actually want to buy, is by doing free workshops, live webinars in-person events, because that’s how you test out your new content to make sure it’s a landing. In this case, maybe it’s the process you use to help people through email marketing, and you’ll get real feedback. So it’s the same thing comedians do like before comedian has a big Netflix special, they usually go to dive bars in like Buffalo or something, and if it doesn’t hit, it’s like, okay, by Buffalo. See you next time, right, I’m gonna go tweak that before I go to Syracuse. That’s the way you do it. And that’s really a big concern of mine. If someone has a business they want to launch, and they’ve not tested whatsoever in front of a live audience and gotten real feedback. And that’s an issue. So you’re better off offering a free workshop webinar, or whatever it is, and getting that feedback. But also, if no one signs up, good. Because if someone does not want it for free, they damn sure aren’t going to pay for it. Right. So it’s a good way to prequalify that you have a good service offering and make some tweaks there. But you’ll also get feedback from the audience to say, “Hey, you know, would you learn? Would you appreciate so and so forth? Great.” Now you have testimonials that you can put on your website, on LinkedIn, wherever you want, what you read this third-party validation to actually help other people feel more comfortable working with you.

Brittany: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s just such a great conversation starter as well. It’s just like, there are questions when people attend those free webinars that they’re going to have that you’re like, I didn’t even know that people needed to know that, you know, so it’s such a great opportunity to just not only like test out material but figure out what are the next steps that people are looking towards past that so that you can better create content and services really just help your audience. So that kind of leads me into like some blind spots. You know, a lot of my clients tend to start their businesses assuming that they have to spend all this money are going these directions that aren’t beneficial to them when they kind of just have their blinders on. So what do you think are some other blind spots that entrepreneurs kind of have as they’re first starting out?

Terry: I’ll just expose my own ignorance, it’s easier because there’s a lot of that, when I first started out, I thought I needed a bunch of fancy expensive tools, like “Oh, if I buy this, if I buy that, I’ll be great, I’ll be in a good spot.” And that’s not true whatsoever. You want to have a good understanding of what you’re doing, where you’re doing it for, and how you help them. And if there are tools around that help you amplify the impact of that great, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money or even hire a big team. I mean, look at all the low-code or no-code options available, right? If you want to have great-looking social media content, cool, go to Canva there’s a free version, and you’re gonna look like a brilliant graphic designer and email marketer. Right, you’re gonna land pretty well. But I think it’s almost like people confusing action with progress. Like, “Oh, look, I have this tool for this, this tool for that, this tool for that so and so forth.” Like, that’s not progress. That’s you confusing this action with progress. So that’s really the number one thing I see people mess up on. But I’m gonna keep on pushing it back to you. I know you’re the expert when it comes to workflow stuff. So like, help me out here, like, what, what challenges are you seeing?

Brittany: Yeah, it’s a lot of that, honestly, yesterday with the client, I was discussing her own workflows. And so we’re talking about like, strategic steps that we can take to build her business. And she kind of came back with like, “What platform should I be using on my website?” And I was like, “Well, I don’t think that’s really the question that we need to be asking right now. Like, use what you have that actually works, and then move forward with that there shouldn’t be the question of what tool will help me get there. It’s like, how can we effectively communicate what you’re doing, who you’re helping, and then what tools are necessary or helpful to actually helping you do that thing.” And so that’s usually where my clients also mess up us trying to buy more trainings when maybe they don’t actually need it, or just investing in all these tools that aren’t really necessary, because they don’t really know how to use them yet. So, from your perspective, what else can people do to get started? Because building a business is hard. So what do you recommend to people?

Terry: I mean, the first thing is look for the free resources available. So go to my website, just also go on YouTube, how to start a business like this, look for all the free stuff before we invest in coaching consultants, any of that stuff. Because if you do that, you’ll be able to have a more informed conversation or more informed decision if you do want to buy something. But you can get started with zero dollars. Right? Just go back to what I said, What’s your zone of genius? Who do you want to help? Who can help you spread the word, and then from there, you’ll get some initial input, but don’t spend a lot of time on it. Sorry, don’t spend a lot of money on it, spend a lot of time thinking about your next steps. So that’s the biggest piece of advice I can give. The second one is find someone to hold you accountable. Someone within your community, your network, whatever it is, someone that’s going to encourage you not just tell you why you shouldn’t do it, right? Because there’s gonna be a lot of naysayers. That’s part of it. But that’s why you want to surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are, but also encourage you to keep on ascending and become the best version of yourself. So that’s what I would do.

Brittany: Yeah, having that crew of people or just even just one person can be so beneficial and really helping make progress in your business because being an entrepreneur is lonely, like we’re all solopreneurs just behind a computer, you know, so I feel like having that one person to hold you accountable and just be almost be that support system and help push you farther. It’s just so beneficial. But Terry, where else can people find you?

Terry: Yeah, my website is TerryRice.co not .com, some photographer in Indiana has that, so if you want photos go to.com. If you want me go to .co and also on social media. It’s at its @itsterryrice.

Brittany: Amazing and if anybody wants to find out where I’m at on Instagram, you can find me at powerhouse brand studio, and my website is powerhousebrandstudio.com

Awesome. Thanks. This is great. I appreciate it. Yeah, of course.



Author: Terry Rice, Terry Rice is a Business Development Consultant and Staff Writer at Entrepreneur magazine. He's also the host of Launch Your Business, a podcast that helps entrepreneurs start their businesses, save time and avoid burnout. After leaving the corporate world - which included roles at Adobe and Facebook - he started his own business in order to spend more time with his family. Unfortunately, he quickly realized there’s a big difference between being good at your job and being good at running a business. Frustrated and confused he spent the next 18 months discovering the actions, tools and mindset needed to succeed as a solopreneur. He now shares that guidance with other emerging business owners so they can scale their business without sacrificing their health or personal life. Terry is also an instructor at New York University, speaks at business development events on behalf of Amazon and Google, and has been featured as a subject matter expert by Good Morning America and the Wall Street Journal. Based in Brooklyn, he is a husband and father of four children.

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