Interview with Kasim Aslam
Niching Down To Scale Up Your Business with Kasim Aslam
Kasim Aslam is the Founder and CEO of Solutions 8, a top-ranked Google Ads agency that has helped hundreds of organizations grow and scale.
He’s also the author of The 7 Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing, featured as one of the Top 100 Digital Marketing Books of All Time by Book Authority, and was also named one of the Top 50 Digital Marketing Thought Leaders in the United States by The University of Missouri in 2020.
Kasim had to overcome severe challenges on his journey toward becoming one of the world’s premier marketing minds. He was raised by a blind single mother on social security disability and was surrounded by people who could have easily steered him toward a life of poverty and crime.
Instead of debilitating him, these circumstances led Kasim to reinvent himself, personally and professionally. He now has a thriving business and a loving family and lives the lifestyle he dreamed of when he was younger.
Today, we discuss why niching down is crucial for the growth of most businesses, the importance of structuring your business to serve your lifestyle, and why financial freedom is best achieved through creating value for others.
Featured on This Episode: Kasim Aslam
✅ What he does: Kasim Aslam is the Founder and CEO of Solutions 8, a top-ranked Google Ads agency. He’s a Traffic Coach for Digital Marketer’s elite coaching program and was hand-selected by Ryan Deiss to help create Digital Marketer’s paid traffic certification. He’s a Co-host of Perpetual Traffic, one of the top marketing podcasts, and the author of The 7 Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing, featured as one of the Top 100 Digital Marketing Books of All Time by Book Authority. Kasim has been published across multiple networks, including CRM Magazine, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, Emergent Path, and Explore B2B. He’s the recipient of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association’s 2017 TIM Award for Person of the Year. Kasim was also named one of the Top 50 Digital Marketing Thought Leaders in the United States by The University of Missouri in 2020.
💬 Words of wisdom: “I like heavy diversification. I never want to rely on any single source of anything.” – Kasim Aslam
Key Takeaways with Kasim Aslam
- Why it’s essential to treat every experience in life as a learning opportunity, no matter how difficult it is.
- What he learned from building a thriving software development company at 20…that failed during the 2008 economic meltdown.
- Exposing yourself to new people and ideas is the best way to achieve personal and professional growth.
- How Kasim built one of the most successful Google Ads agencies in the world.
- Why niching down is the best way to build relationships with a loyal customer base.
- Don’t allow your business to own you. Leverage your financial success to build your desired lifestyle.
- Why does the advice “do what you love” hurt young entrepreneurs, and what to do instead.
- Kasim’s strategy on finding a niche and building a successful business around it by solving problems for customers.
Kasim Aslam | Are Niche Markets The Next Gold Rush?
Kasim Aslam Tweetables“Entrepreneurs are terror-stricken when it comes to niching down. They’re just so afraid of everything that they’re saying no to, but it’s not until you say that you really go deep on what you’re saying yes to.” - @kasimaslam Click To Tweet “Find the people that you love the most and help those people. And what’s nice about that is that it really doesn’t feel like work.” - @kasimaslam Click To Tweet
- Kasim Aslam Website
- Solutions 8
- Kasim Aslam on LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram
- 3x Freedom
- Front Row Dads
- Rawson Saunders
- The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham
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Read the Full Transcript with Kasim Aslam
Justin Donald: What’s up, Kasim? So glad to have you on the show.
Kasim Aslam: Justin, thanks for having me, man. Happy to be here.
Justin Donald: Yeah, well, I just know there’s so much fun stuff we’re going to get into today. When I think about, how you and I first got connected, I had so many people have such positive things to say about you and how you were showing up in their life. I think we’ve got many mutual friends in Front Row Dads. You’re a member, I’m a member. And there was just a barrage of people that were singing your praises, and it was cool to hear. And I was like, man, I want to get to know this guy better.
So, that’s kind of the genesis of us forming our relationship. And you later ended up joining the Lifestyle Investor Mastermind, which is cool. I love featuring members on the podcast because our members are brilliant and they have such cool strategies and unique paths to success. And so, I’m just excited to kind of jump in and tackle a bunch of these things.
Kasim Aslam: I’m excited too, and I’ve learned a lot from your mastermind, man. Hopefully, it’s not going to come across as me showing it, but it’s been great. I learned a lot, made a lot of really good connections. You’ve done just a phenomenal job with that community.
Justin Donald: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. One thing I’ve definitely learned for sure is when you curate high-level performers, then you then have to kind of be critical with who gets in, but when you truly curate it and you truly hold a standard and only let people in that that qualify based on that criteria, it really creates a cool network and a cool group of interesting like-minded individuals that are just playing the game of life and business and investing at a high level. And it’s nice to be in touch with those people that can kind of inspire cool ideas that you may have or partnerships and just to do the cool stuff that we’re doing in that community.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, absolutely.
Justin Donald: So, let’s talk about you and how you kind of got your start in the world of entrepreneurship, like at a young age, did you know that that was your thing? Or is this something that you fell into? I’m curious.
Kasim Aslam: I’m the world’s greatest failure, Justin. I’m kind of proud of it. I got into quite a bit of trouble as a kid. I didn’t really graduate high school. I made a failed attempt at being a career criminal and then ended up kind of feeding my entrepreneurial passion more than I realized. And it stemmed from the fact that I had no other options. I didn’t go to college. I wasn’t employable. And I don’t know that I’d be a good employee. So, I made a couple of stabs at a couple of different things and failed miserably each time but picked up something from each experience. And there’s like a tapestry of broken experiences that sort of melded together in order to create what wouldn’t end up being my entrepreneurial journey. So, hopefully, I didn’t get too dark, but that’s the best way I can answer that.
Justin Donald: Well, now I’m curious, how did you fail as a criminal? I mean, something set you on the right path, but I’m curious if you’re willing to share.
Kasim Aslam: So, I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was raised by a blind single mother on Social Security disability. And if you’ve been to Albuquerque, it’s a rough place. And I was a super nerd in Albuquerque. I wasn’t like cool or anything. But I went to a last chance school that was for kids who got kicked out of every other school. It was called Southwest Secondary Learning Center.
The guy who founded the school is named Scott Glasrud. You can Google him, he’s now in federal prison. But the school was just full of all these delinquents. And so, they put us in a room together to collaborate and it was not a very healthy environment to be in for any of us. We went to school four days a week, three hours a day. And so, we just had all this time on our hands. And it kind of started with just petty kid stuff and it segued into me being more or less terror-stricken at my life. And I pansied out. I called my dad, who I didn’t know super well, and we weren’t really well connected, but I just said, hey, man, I’m in quite a bit of trouble, don’t know exactly how I’m going to get out of it. And he had me come move with him in Scottsdale.
So, I’m 19 years old and I go from like a poor broke kid in Albuquerque, Mexico to living in Scottsdale and seeing just insane levels of opulence. And that was a hell of a paradigm shift and a really good experience for me, in retrospect. I got the opportunity a lot of people don’t have, which is just fully reinvent myself.
Justin Donald: I can’t believe that the founder of your school actually went to prison.
Kasim Aslam: Oh, yeah, I think he’s there now. He shoots YouTube videos from prison, like he’s a weird dude.
Justin Donald: Wow.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah.
Justin Donald: So, talk about night and day then from Albuquerque to Scottsdale. And Scottsdale just keeps growing and expanding, and it attracts a lot of people there. A lot of my friends live there. There’s a lot of success that’s there. So, you reinvented yourself, which is great. Thank goodness you had another chance. You had another perspective. Was your dad doing something where he was very successful in his endeavors professionally? Or were you just in a place where you saw everything else around? And it was almost like, in spite of my family, I figured it out.
Kasim Aslam: So, my dad’s a great guy. I love him to death. My father, I’d be saying this if you were sitting in the room, money flows through his hands like water. He makes it really well, but he can’t keep it. If he makes 20 bucks, he’s going to spend 21.50, and then go borrow against what he just spent. He’s got a blessed disposition that if somehow, man, he’s just always able to kind of make that life work, but it’s so stressful.
So, he owned a rug store. He sells hand-knitted rugs. He’s Pakistani. So, he imports these rugs in Pakistan. And he needs to be in a wealthy environment in order to sell those rugs, which is why he ended up in Scottsdale. But I worked for him, and it was the most stressful experience in my life because of the way my dad runs his business and just sort of the way he runs his life. He’s very generous. He pays people more than he should pay them and he tips more than he should tip. And it’s always just kind of a borrow from Peter to pay Paul situation and scenario.
And so, when I quit and decided to go start my own thing, I have what I refer to as entrepreneurial PTSD because I can’t tell you how many times we’re racing to the bank to make a deposit because we’re not going to make payroll, or within the family, too, you just didn’t get paid. It was like, what’s the bare minimum you need right now to make everything get covered? And that’s very Pakistani as well. Like, we’re all just there’s this collective kitty and everybody puts into the kitty and you sort of get what you get.
And that was also, as much as it was a little traumatizing, it was also really powerful because I knew I just didn’t want to do things, not to disparage or diminish my father, but he’s taught me a lot of really good things. He’s taught me some things via the negative as well. And that was one of them.
Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s interesting. So, for you, I’m guessing since that bothered you so much, you weren’t that way. And by the way, I’ve gotten to know you a lot, and so, I actually know you to be the opposite of that. So, he had a really easy time letting money kind of trick a lot of his hands out of his pockets. You’re the opposite. And so, that certainly had an effect, where you have found yourself to hold on a little tighter, right? Maybe unsure what moves you want to make. Like if I’m not certain what I want to do, I’m just going to hold on and maybe make a decision later.
And by the way, I say that as a compliment because you’ve been able to amass a lot of wealth because you haven’t had failures financially, you haven’t invested in things that kind of fell apart. And so, your strategy has actually served you well from that regard. But I’d love to hear how that maybe influenced you and your mindset on that because when you first joined our group, I think one of the big goals was like, how do I learn more about investing so I can figure out and be comfortable letting go of some of my cash, right?
Kasim Aslam: Yeah. So, I’m aggressively frugal is the kind way to put it. I was not to get mildly arrogant here. I was a liquid multimillionaire and I still had holes in my socks. I couldn’t bring myself to buy new socks because there’s a place where the hole inhibits the ability for the sock to perform, that’s at the top. But if you have holes in the soles of your sock, those are still good socks, Justin, like that still does the job as far as I could– and I’ll spend money on my wife, I’ll spend money on my kids, but when it comes to me and maybe these are self-worth issues that I need to dig into, but I just have a hard time deploying.
And it’s also inhibited and limited my growth. So, being a part of this group and being exposed to folks like you, I’m getting better at taking calculated but taking risks. And I did have a great big financial failure. When I was 20 years old, I started a software development firm and I was building banking applications. And I was in the bank. You remember the movie The Big Short?
Justin Donald: Oh, yeah, I love that movie. I love the book.
Kasim Aslam: So, I have it here. Check this out. This is really cool. My copy of the book is signed by the COO of the bank that brought down Lehman Brothers. So, The Big Short is about a bank. It’s about one bank. It’s the largest privately held bank in the nation or was. It was the largest bank failure in US history, and they were my client. I was in the bank on bank failure Friday when the FDIC pulled up in their big black SUVs, took over the banks, shut everything down.
And it wasn’t just because of that, but that was like the first domino that tipped that took down my entire business. I had to lay off everybody that was working for me. I lost my house to foreclosure, my car to repossession. I was living in this crack den of an apartment going to Costco on the weekends, eating free tryouts from my expired Costco card.
And I realized, I was like, man, I pulled it, Dad, because I had the big house on the hill, but it was the banks, I had like the cool car, but that was the banks. And the minute I wasn’t going to get what was owed to me, which is a risk in business, I realized everything that I have is vapor. And I’m so glad it happened, dude. Like, I was making more money than a kid should make at 20 years old, and then by 22, it was gone. And it was a great lesson to learn. And since then, I’ve been pretty, pretty cautious about the way that I deploy.
Justin Donald: You know, Kasim, it’s interesting because you talk about how this money was vapor and it disappeared. And that taught you a great lesson. The interesting parallel that I have is what people do today. So, you at least figured this out inside of a year to two years. That was a strategy that didn’t work.
Most of the general population has what I call paper money, and a lot of people will call it paper money, where they think their net worth is a certain amount. They think their investments are worth a certain amount, but it’s not really what it is until it’s time to take that capital off the table, until that company has an exit, until it’s time to retire. That money has very or that portion of net worth has very little utility, but it looks good on a PFS, a personal financial statement. It feels good to know what your net worth is. But this is the whole thing for me where you have so many people chasing net worth, but they’re like asset rich, cash poor, can’t really live the life that they want to live today or do so at the expense of tomorrow or even today.
But it’s based on the same idea of how everything was vapor or paper money. Now, some of these things will work out, but a lot of them won’t work out. A lot of the high-risk stuff, it might look like it’s working all the way until it doesn’t work. And that might happen over 10, 15, 20 years. And then you realized a strategy that you didn’t know better that you kept doing for 20 years didn’t work for any of them, but it took that long to figure out that the company failed.
So, I love that you figured that out quickly. And I also think it’s great that you let these lessons serve you. For you, it seems like there have been extremes. It was like you wanted to go the extreme opposite direction of your dad. Then you found out you were kind of doing the same thing, and then was like, okay, let me really go in this opposite direction. I’m going to be super frugal, I’m going to be responsible. And I think that serves people for a period of time until it doesn’t serve them.
And once that scarcity mindset is too strong and it becomes debilitating, I think that’s the point in time where that strategy has to shift a little bit, right? Doesn’t mean that everything has to be risked, but it means that that strategy got you to where you are. But now, you’re at a plateau and you’re probably not going to compound your net worth, your cash flow, the lessons that you’re teaching your kids, you’re probably not going to do that in the same place, even though you can take some of those strategies or some of those habits as long as they’re not abused because too much of a good thing ends up not being a good thing most of the time.
Kasim Aslam: Now, it’s brilliantly stated. And what I’m seeing now, which is really frustrating, is I’m watching everything I’ve worked for get vaporized in a different way. It’s inflation. You take your money, throw it under a mattress, and the market has a really good way of reminding you that this is a bad, bad, bad idea.
So, I played the gold bug game a little bit. I bought some single-family homes. I’ve made some investments through you and through others, and I’m kind of dip in my toe into figuring out where it is that I want to live, but I’m still scared. I think there’s a recession coming. And I don’t know from what angle and I don’t think it’s come in the way that people think it’s coming. I don’t know how it’s going to play out. I don’t believe in the sanctity of the dollar the way that others do. I’m sort of on the dally of events and I like things that feel tangible to me.
I make my money in a very ethereal, ephemeral way, like Google Ads, digital marketing. It doesn’t exist. It’s just this code talks to that code, and somehow, money comes out. So, when I invest, I like to have things that– this feels structurally sound to me. And I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but that’s more or less where I’m positioned at the moment.
Justin Donald: Well, I’ll go on record saying this. I’ve said this many times before. I would much rather plan for a worst-case scenario that doesn’t happen or it doesn’t happen as bad as you think it’s going to happen than the opposite, which is you don’t plan and you’re caught naked. And that is really, I mean, I think it’s wise to say, hey, how bad could it get? If it got this bad, what would I need to do to survive? If it got this bad, how would I invest my money? How much would I need to have in cash? How much would I need to have in other assets? What asset specifically? What would be redeemable quickly? Because in a point in time where you’re in a true recession, the value of assets changes because liquid– how do you get liquidity when you need it? And is someone willing to transact? Does that asset still have the same value or carry the same weight as what it once did?
And you’ll see if you study history, and Ray Dalio is a great example of this, I mean, even his last book is very historically based, but if you study history, you’re going to see these trends where everyone in the world or everyone in this nation did things this way, and then all of a sudden, that way didn’t work anymore. And so, I think it’s wise to be experimenting and thinking through. And who knows? No one knows.
I tend to think that we’re going to have some turbulent times as well. I don’t know how bad it’s going to be, and no one knows. Like no one has a crystal ball. If the Fed injects more money, then it delays it longer. If they continue to raise interest rates, then we might see it sooner. I mean, there’s so much unknown, but I think it’s wise to prepare.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, well, that’s what I loved about your golden rules of investing. Nobody had ever posited to me that I could have all of that because, usually, when you’re looking at a fund or looking at the folks that want to take your money, it feels very, like you’re being dictated to. These are the terms. Take it or leave it.
And when I saw your education, I mean, hopefully, you don’t mind me characterizing this way, but I was like, I can have my cake and eat it too. This is awesome. You’re going to spin off money monthly and I can take it out any time. And I realize not every investment fits perfectly inside of that box, but it’s better to have the box that you know is perfect for you, and then decide where you’re compromising as opposed to just– and when you’re ignorant of how the process works, and I still am. I just learned what pref means.
I’m on these Zoom calls with you and I’m just sitting here googling these terms that people are dropping because I’m wildly ignorant when it comes to all of this stuff. But the one thing that I’ve done really, really well, and I think this comes from the humility of my background, is I don’t mind looking stupid. So, somebody says something I don’t know, I’m like, can we just pause right there? And will you please define that term for me? And what I’ve noticed is there’s a whole litany of people right behind me like, oh, thank God, he has that.
Justin Donald: That’s right.
Kasim Aslam: So, I get to be the dummy on the front end, but I’ve never done for long. I’m going to figure it out and crack the code because I just don’t care about optics. I’m going to ask whatever question I have to ask in order to understand this from the roots.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I think that’s beautiful and I wish more people took that approach. I am all about figuring out the details, and like you, I’m okay, put myself out there and saying, hey, I don’t know what this means. What does this mean? Can you help me understand? I was on a call earlier today and they use an acronym and I’m like, I probably should know what this means, but I don’t know what that meant. And then they told me, I’m like, oh, you add an extra letter to it. I’ve never heard it done that way. That’s interesting.
But same thing, like, I just think you have to, like this is the information that is so important to know. And then I also think during tough times, or if we expect tough times to come, if we expect even more of an economic slowdown, what are the asset classes that actually hold up really well? Because there are plenty of them, and you can check history, you can check the past financial situations, crises. You can check the dot-com bubble. I mean, just go back and look at what did well and what didn’t. And that’s one good indicator of potentially something that could be strong today.
Kasim Aslam: So, I’m doing it now. My superpower is Google Ads. I’m good at lead generation. And so, I joined your group and I hear everybody say, oh, we want mobile home parks. I’ve ginned up over 100 leads from mobile home park sellers since then. I’m working with Nick, who’s also in your group to try to– we haven’t flipped one yet. But when we do, that could be a really substantial fee. So, yeah, and I like heavy diversification. I never want to rely on any single source of anything.
And I also feel, and this is going to sound predatory, but it’s just the truth, if and when the market turns, dude, I think I’m going on a buying spree because I remember what happened in ‘08. I remember looking around and seeing $15,000 condos right in the middle of beautiful central Phoenix. And just knowing this is insane, like, I should buy 20 of these, and not being able to. So, I’m prepared to be a little braver than I would be, characteristically, as soon as I see something like that, flip.
Justin Donald: And that’s great because you’ve studied it, you know. So, people that don’t know that pattern, that aren’t comfortable with what happened the last time, they aren’t knowledgeable, they’re ignorant, you used that word earlier, and that’s sad and truly the purest form of like just uneducated, right? Someone may truly be uneducated in a certain area. And our goal is to be educating ourselves. But now you have the confidence because you’ve learned some lessons, you’ve seen some patterns. And I think that’s so bright. It’s so good to make decisions.
One of the things I encourage everyone who joins the Lifestyle Investor Mastermind to do right out of the gates is come up with their own investment criteria because when you’re in a good place, when you’re unemotional, that’s a great time to lay out what it is that you’re going to invest in and what your goals are and what outcomes you’re looking for. So, that way, when times do get bad or when maybe there’s FOMO that you can check your emotions at the door and say, no, let me look at this plan. Let me look at my investment criteria. Let me look at this investor sheet, this one page that says what I’m about and how I’m going to invest. And so, I think it’s smart that you’re doing that.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, well, I’m excited about it in a very– it’s new, it’s like the first time you go out to dance. And I hate dancing, but if you take any dancing classes, and now, it’s like, okay, the music starts and you’re with your wife, you’re like, this is it. I’m sort of excited about this dance, excited and nervous at the same time. And I’ll never extend myself beyond what I know I can lose and still maintain. Honestly, literally forever, my wife and I drive Hyundais. The only reason I have a mortgage is because my CPA was like, dude, you’re missing out on this tax break on the– so I’m 100% debt free. And I just always want to know that I’ve got that forever money. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, I’m not wealth shaming at all. But outside of travel, like we have no opulent purchases whatsoever. We eat organic food. That’s kind of expensive. But we live a pretty humble life so that helps because it just keeps things small in a manageable way.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I love that. I love that you can live life on your terms and that you can be very intentional with how you spend your money. It’s interesting because you could look at it from two different standpoints. You could look at it from the standpoint of, hey, there’s a lot of great lessons in that. The flip side, you could probably argue that there are a lot of great lessons in the– hey, I want to use these funds for these experiences or to curate these relationships, get into these groups, and you can make the argument that that is also a good way of doing it.
But I think when you’re at peace, when you figure out for you what’s best, that’s great, and to always be willing to learn and grow and figure out what’s next. And I love that you’re just always reinventing yourself. Hey, I can do this business. I can do that business. You’re like such an ideas guy. So, I love that you’ve teamed up with one of my dear buddies, Nick Najjar. I love all the cool stuff that’s going on there with mobile homes and mobile home parks. And specifically, just that we’ve got two more mastermind members that are teaming up to do something really cool.
But I’d love to talk a little bit about what it is that you do. So, you have an agency and you are one of the foremost experts in paid traffic. Your agency is rated very high. You work primarily or exclusively with Google Ads because they’re the easiest to scale. And through this, though, you’ve been able to figure out all these other niche markets, niche business opportunities. So, it’s kind of like we got to start with where you are, but I want to kind of dissect it because you’re getting into such cool niche markets, niche ideas that I want to be able to share this strategy with so many people that could take something like this and run with it.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah. So, it’s built on a cliche. And cliches are cliches for a reason, but you’ve heard a million times the riches are in the niches. And I didn’t choose a niche or even niche down because I’m intelligent. I did it as a byproduct of failure, again, being the world’s greatest failure. Solutions 8 is the name of my agency, and we’re called Solutions 8 because I had eight-course service offerings. So, I was doing websites and SEO and content and video and TV, like everything. If you would pay me to do it, I would do it.
And it was miserable. It was horrible, Justin. I remember I had a financial goal for myself and I reached a financial goal. And I was supposed to be happy when I hit this mark, and I got there, I was like, this is the most miserable I’ve ever been because I had, whatever it was, 30 some clients, but each one of them, I was doing something different for us. It was like 30 different little businesses, and everybody would call and yell at me for stuff.
And it was my business partner that identified, hey dude, when somebody’s successful from a marketing perspective, they’re successful with Google Ads first. So, we started using Google Ads just to stress test the business because if I can take you, sit you up, put a weapon in your hand, throw you in the Colosseum against all your competitors, and you come out alive, that means that you have a viable business model. And that’s what Google Ads does.
So, we started using Google Ads just as a litmus test and we got so good at it, we niched on into Google Ads. And from there, I started identifying all these insane niche opportunities, taking niche down into e-comm and then specifically Shopify stores. And it started, the writing was on the wall for me really quickly because when you choose a niche and I toggle back and forth between niche to niche, by the way, because I don’t know how to say it and I don’t think anybody does.
When you choose a niche, everything gets easier, all the work that you do if you’re bespoke anything, is only worth the single point of implementation. And the most powerful lesson I got actually came from a passion project, and I didn’t realize how successful it was going to be, but I’m obsessed with Montessori schools, obsessed. I think every child deserves to go to a Montessori school or a Montessori-inspired school. I think you all are Acton people, right?
Justin Donald: Yeah, we got our start there and have since transitioned. We actually are going to a school that specializes in dyslexia because we found out in December that our daughter has dyslexia. So, it’s really cool actually hanging out with Richard Branson, talking about that, and him sharing a video of why being a dyslexic is incredibly amazing and all the superpowers that come with it. So, it’s been a really neat journey. But yeah, so we pivoted, and now we’re at a school called Rawson Saunders here in Austin, which is just a fabulous school that we’re so thrilled with.
Kasim Aslam: It’s awesome that you’ll have that. I feel like alternative education gets– it’s an uphill battle. And so, I wanted to create something that helps Montessori schools grow. So, I created this agency because I know marketing, I know it well. And so, I created this agency. And the idea was, let’s give a Montessori school everything that they need in order to grow for as little money as possible.
And so, we’re talking services that would amount to 10 to 15 grand a month if you actually paid for them custom. We created the website, we created content, monthly blog posts, emails, social, paid traffic, stock photo, like everything CRM, marketing, animation, the whole kit and caboodle. And it wasn’t meant to be this massive profit center, but what I found was I created at once, there’s 4,500 Montessori schools in the nation. And you don’t need to sell many schools at a thousand bucks a pop before that really starts to add up.
And a good agency in my space has 20% margins. But if you were dealing with templated resources, those margins go up. And man, it was so eye-opening. And so, now, I’m doing it again. I’m partnering with a friend who, I don’t know if I’m allowed to use his name, but he’s famous in the martial arts space. And so, we’re going to go into– we have five niches in martial arts, karate and jujitsu and kickboxing, and we’re going to tackle each one at a time because that’s how important it is to niche down. If you zoom out that way, just the distinction between martial arts and karate, that’s a huge distinction. And the line of demarcation in my mind is you have to be able to write their content for them.
And it doesn’t have to be marketing. If you think about niching down, I’ve got a friend, a mutual friend, Doug, who’s in my Front Row Dads band, he’s a recruiter. And he and I were talking about niching down on a recruiting perspective. I help website design agencies find their COO, and you might think like, dude, I’m going to miss out on so much business. Well, that’s true. But you’re also going to be the only guy that a web design agency could ever go to when looking for their most important resource.
And now, your marketing just got easier, your value proposition just got easier. You get to charge more. You get to streamline everything as you’re attracting these COOs. If you can’t place one here, you place them there, as opposed to having to go find a new person for every new role that comes in. Niching down has been the most powerful thing I’ve ever done for myself. It’s the reason I’ve been as successful as I have.
And what’s troubling to me as entrepreneurs are, they’re terror-stricken when it comes to niching down. They’re just so afraid of everything that they’re saying no to, but it’s not until you say no that you really go deep on what you’re saying yes to. And it makes your whole life easier.
Justin Donald: That’s incredible right there. And by the way, I love the Montessori model. So, we started in Montessori. So, I love hearing that. I think there’s just brilliance and so much of that. And every child is different. And from the standpoint of maybe learning disabilities or some would define them as disabilities, not everyone defines them as disabilities these days, which I love, but different children need different things.
And we’ve learned with our daughter that there are certain hindrances on the executive functioning stuff, even like procrastination or internalized, like motivation but intrinsic, right? And so, it’s interesting seeing the different models on the different children, but we love it, in general. And when I think about your model, though, I mean, you are a niche down, but some of these niches are still massive. I remember when pickleball was making a huge comeback or a huge emergence, and some would say it was like a re-emergence. Other people would say it’s just an emergence. And I had someone that was in the pickleball space that had niched down and did incredibly well.
And at the time, I’m like, well, how many people play pickleball? How are you making any money? And look at it today, everyone seems to be playing pickleball. All the country clubs are throwing a pickleball court on top of the tennis courts. And I mean, you just go to the park down the road and we’ve got them everywhere.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, they just rebuilt our park over where I live and added six pickleball courts. I’ve got a client, he’s not a client anymore. He was for a while. He ran into supply chain issues because of everything that’s going on, but he did cornhole gear. You know what cornhole is?
Justin Donald: Oh yeah.
Kasim Aslam: I didn’t.
Justin Donald: Great game.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, you throw, you’re tossing bag into just a box, and they have regulation gloves and regulation bags, and I’m just thinking to myself, I’m like, there’s no way this is a thing. And he’s minting money while he was getting materials in. But I think that if a meteor hit my business tomorrow, I’d go find the least served niche and then I would just love on them. That’s the other thing that you get to do, which I’m sorry if I get touchy-feely here, but you get to give so much more. The customer experience is so much better. You get to speak to them on their terms. You really get to know them. You get to know what they’re worried about or what the concerns are, what their pain points are.
When I go to hire the gal that runs my Montessori agency is the next Montessorian. So, she speaks the language perfectly. She was a software engineer first, started a Montessori school, I’m like God, you couldn’t be more perfect. But finding her was easy because I knew what I needed. I just emailed my list of schools and I’m like, hey, I’m looking for an executive director. So, finding your employees, finding your strategic partners, knowing where to go to fish, niching down, it just makes the whole world so much easier.
Justin Donald: I mean, if there isn’t a catch-phrase or a poster child for what lifestyle investing is or who a lifestyle investor is, I mean, I don’t know what is, to have a business that you could really work at on your terms for very little amounts, but that you have regular cash flow coming in that buys your time back. I don’t care how much money you make.
Kasim Aslam: Right.
Justin Donald: How much time do you own? Well, I know a lot of people that are very wealthy, but they don’t own their time. They have a business and they like to think that it’s their business, but really, the script is flipped. So, it’s like they want to say, yeah, this is my business, but really, the business is saying you’re mine. The business owns them. And so, yeah, they make a lot of money or more money, but they’re not spending it in the way.
Now, some people, they’re lucky and they’re doing exactly what they love to do. That’s just a very small percentage of people. Most people are not. And so, they’re trapped in this mode of like society says, make more money, society says work more hours. The cultural norms are like, move up, move up, whatever it is. Is it a corporate ladder? Is it a net worth ladder? Well, why don’t we move up the owning your own time ladder? Let’s own more of your time. Why don’t we move up the ladder of, like, even better experiences and more time with the people that we care about? That seems to be what is more inspiring and exciting and compelling.
And by the way, I don’t mean to disparage anyone at any point wherever they are. Like everyone’s learning, everyone’s figuring this stuff out, but I talk to a lot of people that have these aha’s that don’t even realize, yeah, I guess you’re right, my business does run me. And I just want to help people wake up and say, hey, there is another way. And you can still make great money and you can likely buy the time back to do these other things that you love to do and influence other people to buy their time back and to do better in life.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, that’s really well stated. I own the domain 3x Freedom.
Justin Donald: That’s cool.
Kasim Aslam: I don’t know if this is ever going to happen to be honest with you, but I want to teach people how to build these little niche businesses, and I’m going to do it under the umbrella of this 3x Freedom. It doesn’t exist yet, so I’m not pitching anything, Justin. But the idea is there are three dimensions of freedom. There’s time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom. And everybody goes for financial freedom first. And I think that’s flawed.
I think that’s flawed because if you go to financial freedom first, you actually have to sacrifice the other two dimensions of freedom. So, you want to make sure that you set yourself up for time and location freedom whilst on the way towards financial freedom because when you achieve it, you now have the other two pillars in place. And I think if you do that, and gosh, man, my wife and I are going to Portugal next summer. We’re doing the golden visa thing and we’re just going to live there for two months. I think we’re using your gal, by the way.
Justin Donald: I love it. Ana Rita, she’s awesome. She’s great. Yeah, I’m so excited about doing golden visas in Portugal, living long-term or longer vacations exploring the world. I think that’s cool. So, what you just talked about, this time freedom, that gives you the space and location freedom, that gives you the ability to go do that, to go spend two months in Portugal. I think that’s very well said.
I think the unfortunate thing is most people don’t know how to get time freedom or location freedom until they figured out financial freedom. And so, for me, I spend a lot of time talking about that because I think, sometimes people are just stuck in it. So, it’s like that’s where you got to start. But the other thing is sometimes, people have a hard time thinking like, well, what would I do and be able to walk away from what they’re doing if their finances aren’t taken care of, right?
So, I love what you’re saying. I think there’s brilliance to it. I think some people, the excuses or the easy way out is I’ll figure that out once I have financial freedom. And then once you do, you have the time and space to do it. I think you can figure the other two out without financial freedom. It just takes you creating the space to do it. And most people aren’t willing to do that or they’re too on autopilot going from one thing to the next to the next to the next. And life is running them, they’re not running their life, right?
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, that’s well said. That should be a mug.
Justin Donald: I like it. Well, I love your idea, and I hope that you do. We could brainstorm it right now if you want to. I mean, you said you’re not pitching, but you probably should be pitching because that sounds like a great idea and I think you’ll have a huge market.
Kasim Aslam: No, I’d love your help because I don’t know how to position, I don’t know how to launch it, and I don’t know how to put guardrails on it. I niched down via the marketing agency, but I don’t know that I want it to just be a marketing thing because I think there are so many areas of niche opportunity. You do it with accounting, bookkeeping, legal, operations, you know what I mean? Like it doesn’t have to be B2B. You can niche down.
I talked to one of the FRDs, and actually, maybe I won’t give away his idea because it’s a really good idea, but he has a really specific water sport that he’s super into and is like couldn’t have a community for people that are into this water sport and monetize it by you put together events or you help group buy materials or whatever. And I’m like, oh yeah, you could. So, I want to start with the FRDs, which I don’t know how connected your podcast is, so I’ll maybe stop using the acronym and say the Front Row Dads. I think the best thing you can do for a dad is give him time. And so, I’ve got this nice little sandbox of Front Row Dads. I did one training call and I think it went pretty well. I was all over the place, not…
Justin Donald: You got incredible feedback. I can assure you, you did well because I saw the response in the chat and two different feeds and how much people loved it. So, yeah, I think this is resonating with a lot of people and I think you got some real legs for this next, I want to call it like, for me, it was like I think it’s important to continue to reinvent yourself and to continue to learn and grow to the point that you can show up in a different way, in a different business, with a different education. And so, that’s what I have done several times in my career, is I’ve reinvented myself, and I think that this is such an exciting place to reinvent your next professional endeavor.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah. It’s something I could get so passionate about, too, just because of who it helps and how it helps them.
Justin Donald: And by the way, for a lot of people, this could be the thing that you have the most passion around. So, sometimes people say, well, don’t do what you love because then it becomes a job. And other people say, find a way to make money doing the thing that you love. Both are probably true and both have pros and cons to them. But the reality is, if there’s something that you really care about and that thing is a niche market, there could be a big opportunity, right?
Kasim Aslam: Yeah. Well, so I’ve got to flip on the saying. I wanted to be an actor. That was my sad, pathetic little passion. And you’d be shocked at how few roles there are for nine-foot-tall Pakistanis. And I’ve meditated on this a lot. The do what you love mantra is something that we need to stop selling our children because I do think that that’s deadly. But instead of do what you love, I think the saying should be help who you love. And there’s something about that because if you can help somebody, I teach my children, if you ask my children what is money, they say money is a representation of the value provided to other people.
So, if you’re helping somebody providing value, and within the constructs of a capitalist system, whether or not you like it, it doesn’t matter. That’s where we live. And I’m a fan, by the way. I’m not disparaging it. That means money. If you help somebody solve a problem, that means money. It’s automatic. We’ve all agreed to it.
So, find the people that you love the most and help those people. And what’s nice about that is that it really doesn’t feel like work. And I actually see this with you, man. Like, I see people, everyone wants to talk to you. Every six months, we all get together and hang out. And I see people tugging on your sleeve and be like, hey, man, what do I do here? How do I do that? Even if it gets a little fatiguing, I feel like it lights you up because here’s something I know a lot about, the world authority in, and I get to help somebody that I really care about.
And if you’re looking for a niche, think about, especially if your parents are small business owners. Mom and dad owned an Italian restaurant. Great. Go help Italian restaurant owners. Isn’t that something? So, you saw your mom and dad every single day, work in a restaurant, day in, day out, working their as*es off. Tough business to be in. You know the restaurant industry inside and out. Couldn’t you really sink your teeth into helping that person over and over and over and over and over again? And that’s a niche, I can tell you as a marketer, nobody wants. Nobody wants. They don’t have any money in any margin. They have limitation of scale. Like there’s nobody that wants to go help a little mom/pop kettle restaurant owner.
But if you did it, how many tiny restaurants are there? You could make a million bucks just on one metro, like just the tiny restaurants in Phoenix, Arizona, with a million dollars net profit. Imagine if you got every single one of them in the United States or 10%, you know what I mean? It’s limitless. And there are so many, there are dry cleaners and nail salons and coffee shops and there are so many little teeny tiny businesses, so many little who’s that aren’t being loved on. Go find the one that you love the most and just go give. That’s the other thing, too.
You don’t even need a monetization model. You don’t have to know how are you going to make money. You just show up, day one, hey, I really love what you’re doing here. Why don’t you let me help you? I’ll do it for free. You want to crack the code together? You’ll be my case study. And then I’m going to go turn this around, and I’m going to sell the things that work to other people, just like you. And I’m going to sell it for less than they’d ever be able to get a hold of it. But even in so doing, I’m going to make more than I would make otherwise trying to do this bespoke for random businesses.
Man, I just think it’s the future. I think there’s going to be a gold rush on niche industries, and for some reason, it just hasn’t hit yet. And maybe I can be that spark, maybe I can be the catalyst. But the cool thing is, everybody listening to this right now, there is such a blue ocean. And when I talk to some folks, they get a little on the phone or they’re like, oh, we’re going to run out of niches, there’s no way. There’s no way.
Every listener to this podcast, we could probably all just choose Italian restaurants, and there’d still be enough market for all of us. The number that’s in my head, if I want to free people, is 10 grand a month, working 20 hours a week from anywhere in the world. That’s not insane money. That’s not even Tesla money. But like 10 grand a month, let’s say your COGS are three or four, but if you’re making six grand a month net to you working 20 hours a week, that’s better than most people are doing. And that 10 grand a month, that’s 10 to 20 clients, which is nothing. Justin, it’s nothing. What happens if you got 100? You know what I mean?
Like, what happens if you actually start to scale the damn thing and you put yourself and your COGS are generally in this type of industry, they’re static. So, as you scale, your COGS don’t scale with the profitability, you actually make more and more and more and you get to help more and more and more. And again, we invest in our Montessori clients so much.
I send a professional photographer out to certain schools to take stock photos because I know, even though that’s a really expensive endeavor and no single school can afford it, when I take these photos, the photos are applicable to all schools. I put them in my stock photo library, and they have the best photography any school could ever possibly have. And I get to do that over and over and over again on every axis of analysis. So, choose a niche and serve a group that you love. And I feel a little embarrassed because I get really passionate there, I’m sorry, man.
Justin Donald: Oh, I love your passion. I mean, so you’re spot on that. Like my niche is what I love doing. I’m in a space where I light up every time. I love helping people. I love teaching people to be financially free, buying their time back, breaking their golden handcuffs, like that to me, is just so rewarding work and it’s so fulfilling to me. And then I also love the extreme opposite where someone just had a massive exit and they don’t know what to do. They’re an extraordinary entrepreneur, but that skill doesn’t translate for most entrepreneurs into investing. So, a lot of them lose money. And so, it’s very rewarding to help someone that has this huge windfall of cash and we can help them create passive income. And so, that’s kind of how everything started.
But what you said resonates because you said, just find people that you want to help and then find the things that you love to do. And so, for me, it was this. And so, for years, I had my investors club, I didn’t charge anything. We just hung out and did deals. And it was incredible and, had a big following because of that. And we just had a good time, and a lot of people created financial freedom from that season, and that’s really what morphed in and became the Lifestyle Investor Mastermind, which is cool.
Kasim Aslam: That’s so cool, man. Good for you, too. That’s just so inspiring.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s all what you just said, which I think is great. And I hope people take the time and find the space to create because if your life is a life that is on autopilot, it’s really hard to find that time. This is such a serendipitous and just perfectly timed connection. I don’t know if you are familiar with Keith Cunningham. So, he wrote the book, The Road Less Stupid.
Kasim Aslam: I don’t know him.
Justin Donald: Or maybe it’s Slightly Less Stupid, I don’t know. But I met Keith at a couple of different events, I met him the first time at a Tony Robbins event, and he shared something. Well, first of all, he’s really good at taking complex stuff, like accounting, and making it really simple. And that was helpful for me at that time in that season of my life because I always like the compounding of numbers, but I didn’t really care for all the other stuff.
But now, you put it all together. I mean, you kind of need to know how to do these things or be able to lean on others that can do it. But Keith said something to me that was so powerful and revolutionized my world, and he said to me that he schedules think time, he puts think time in his calendar, and it’s time that all technology goes off and he just thinks. And I remember him saying it was really hard at first, and I would sit there and I’m like, I can’t think of anything. This is such a waste of time. And he said it took him many weeks before he was actually able to think. And for a while, he scheduled it for an hour, and like 10 minutes, he’s like, all right, I’m done. I’m so frustrated.
And so, I can relate on so many levels. But it bought me this time, this space to disconnect from everything else, to connect with nature. I go out on walks, I bring a journal, like no one could interrupt me. Even to this day, if you check my Friday, I have built in every Friday a think time. And it’s just technology-free time. And I also have dream time. And this is where I do not let my day overrun these things. These are carved out because I can be intentional, I can be proactive. And if I don’t do this for myself, I know myself well enough to know that I’m just not going to do it, otherwise. And so, that was one of the biggest game changers for me ever and led to a lot of the great discoveries that I’ve had in my own personal life, just learning who I am, learning what I love, having the time and space to figure out what it is that I like, what I’m passionate about, who I want to spend time with, projects that fill me up versus drain me, people, the types of people that fill me out versus drain me. And so, it was such, I mean, I can’t even put into words the power of that.
So, I mean, I literally have three hours every Friday. It didn’t start with three hours. It started with just an hour of think time, then it became two hours of think time, then it became two hours of think time and one hour of dream time. And this has been a routine for me where I’m intentionally living the life that I desire, not the life someone else desires, not the life that I see other people living, it’s truly what I want. And I’m getting out of default and into intentionality and just a proactive living.
Kasim Aslam: That’s awesome. And I feel ashamed because if I get any dream time at all, it’s usually on accident. I had an event in early recently. I was speaking and I thought I was going to have to do a whole litany of things, and they ended up not needing me. And so, I had like two hours to myself in a city I’d never been in. And dude, it was magic, like it was magic, I just feel like, I’ve got nothing to do, nobody knows I’m free, I’m not going to tell them. I’m just walking around and I realize how starved I am or something like that. So, the fact that you’re so intentional about it, I need to do that. I’m going to take a no, I appreciate that.
Justin Donald: Yeah, if I had to think of the two things that have been the most impactful in my life and getting me to where I am, that’s one of them. And the other one is I’ve got a decade of time where I’ve taken at least one person a week out to a lunch, a dinner, coffee, a something someone I want to learn from, someone I want to meet, except for being on vacation, I’ve been very strict on this. And then if you add that up over time, it’s an education and inside of some of the brightest minds out there. And so, I think those are two of the greatest things I ever did to position myself to where I am today, doing the things that I love, and actually being able to pour back many of those things into pouring in these ideas and thought creation and ideation from those concepts into the people that I have influence with.
Kasim Aslam: Yeah, I love that too. That’s awesome.
Justin Donald: Well, this has been such a fun conversation. And by the way, I feel like I could talk for hours on this niche thing. I have so many ideas on the niche stuff, so if you ever want to partner on anything or dig into some of these things or even utilize me as someone that can point you in the direction of whoever you would need to know in a certain niche, I think we could team up, and our super powers may be very complementary.
Kasim Aslam: I would love to do that. So, yes, to everything. I need help. I need help kind of building the model. I’ve got an idea and some experience, but I’m an idiot on most other levels of analysis, so I need somebody to help buttress some of my weaknesses. That’d be awesome, man. Thank you.
Justin Donald: Well, the beauty is you only have to be a genius, and actually, not even a genius. You only have to be smarter than the average Joe in one little niche area that can make all the difference. Just like a niche market, it’s the same thing from a thinking standpoint. Just find the one idea. I love it. That’s cool. Well, this has been an awesome episode. Those who are watching, those who are listening, where can they find out more about you, Kasim?
Kasim Aslam: My agency is called Solutions 8, so you can go to S-O-L, the number 8 dot com. If you want help with Google Ads, we’d love to help you. If you just want to connect with me personally, you can go to my personal website, it’s Kasim.me, K-A-S-I-M dot me. And I’m all over all socials. If you can’t find me, you probably shouldn’t pay attention to what I’m talking about because I’m supposed to be a digital marketer, and I’m one of the few customers out there, so I’m pretty accessible.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, if you want to learn more about all the cool stuff that Kasim is doing, reach out to him, or you can join the Lifestyle Investor Mastermind. You’ve got to apply for it. But we really have an incredible group of people that are just amazing at the things that they do and there are a lot of people just like Kasim that have this niche, whatever it is, and they’re the best of the best at that niche, so it’s just really fine.
So, I’m thankful for you, Kasim, for all this time that you spent with us here today. And I love ending our podcast the same way because I want intentionality, just like I talked about earlier with you. And so, I just like sharing this, like, what is the one step that you can take? Anyone listening, anyone watching this, what’s one step you can take today to move towards financial freedom, move towards a life that you truly desire, one that’s on your terms, not a life by default, but a life that is truly by design and your design? We’ll catch you next week.