Me And My “Fake” Business

Six years ago I decided to launch a next-generation business. After having started, grown, and sold two venture capital-backed companies, I wanted to create a completely different kind of business.

I wanted to create a business where I could work from anywhere I wanted to. 

I wanted to create a platform that allowed us to work with people across the country and around the world with ease. 

After putting a fair amount of thought into it, here are the ground rules I set for myself (and have religiously stuck to them):

  1. No Office
  2. No Employees
  3. No Outside Investment

Yep, I wanted to become a VBO (Virtual Business Owner).

When I first told my friends about MarketSense they all seemed to have two questions:

  1. Where is your office? To which I would respond “We don’t have one”
  2. How many employees do you have? My answer to that was “we don’t have any employees”

It was funny as hell to watch the response I got. As soon as I answered those two questions I could see their brains processing what I had just said. In their minds, they were thinking “no office and no employees - this is not a real company”. This is a FAKE BUSINESS.

The truth is, that’s probably what some of our initial clients thought as well. Our first clients were people that I’ve known and done business with for years. They trusted me as a person to deliver. But honestly, I’m pretty sure they weren’t quite sure about the concept either.

That was six years ago. Today, we have clients ranging from startups to billion-dollar companies. We do almost no marketing and stay extremely busy as our clients continue to grow and refer us to their friends in business.

Here’s what I think makes the MarketSense business model work so well:

  • No Fat Overhead - Office leases are very expensive. And that is just the beginning. Computers, copiers, and phone systems are just a start of the expenses that typical companies need to pass along to their clients to be profitable.
  • No Mouths To Feed - Every person on the MarketSense Team is a VBO (Virtual Business Owner). While we’ve worked with most of our teammates for years, they work when we have projects. If they are not involved in projects that suit them - they work with other clients.
  • A Custom Team - Typically, when you hire a company, their team is comprised of those individuals they currently have on their payroll. When you hire MarketSense, we field a team specifically for your needs. A perfect example of this is a client who is in the financial services sector. Everything we do for them needs to go through FINRA Compliance. There’s just one catch. FINRA will not tell you what you can do, they just like to review things and let you know what is out of compliance. As such, we need copywriters that have written extensively on the financial sector and know in advance what is not going to work.
  • Massive Accountability - The four platforms we use to run our virtual business allow us to communicate and track deliverables for our clients better than any traditional company I’ve ever seen. This gives us massive control and accountability both internally as a team and for our clients.

I share this experience because VBOs (Virtual Business Owners) have all faced scrutiny on some level. Family and friends often think if you don’t wake up in the morning, fight traffic to work, and have a real job somehow you are just not serious about life.

That used to be the case. However, in the last six years, things have changed DRAMATICALLY. VBOs have been found to be happier, healthier, and make more money. What was once a non-mainstream approach to life has become hip - and for all the right reasons.

In one of the more recent labor reports the number of people that voluntarily left their jobs was staggering. The quit-rate (those who left their jobs voluntarily) hit 3.58 million. This was a 12.7% jump from the previous year.

Let’s be serious three and a half million people is no small number. That is like the entire population of Seattle, Denver, Washington DC, Boston, and Detroit all quitting their jobs in one month.

The report goes on to say “The fact that record numbers of workers are voluntarily quitting their jobs suggests that they are finding substantially better opportunities elsewhere in the economy”.

Do you think some of those opportunities may be people leaving their jobs to become VBOs?

 The simple answer is YES.

Let's take a look at some of the data:

According to a major study done by Deloitte, 43%, or almost half of all Millennials reported they planned to voluntarily leave their jobs in the next 24 months.

Many of these people are kicking their job to the curb for a new lifestyle. A VBO Lifestyle. They want to follow their passion AND make a great living at it.

The great news is that people are starting to understand this life choice. Being a VBO is no longer living on the fringe. Another good example of this trend is the recent Forbes article titled It’s Official: The MBA Degree Is In Crisis

Think about this for a moment: College was created to prepare people for jobs. What happens when people don’t want jobs anymore?

So, to sum things up being a VBO (Virtual Business Owner) is not just becoming mainstream, it is becoming the lifestyle of choice.

I started VBO Nation almost a year ago to give back. To pay it forward, to help people create a life that supports their needs, to make profits for themselves.

VBO Nation was built and it managed 100% by VBOs. We have a great group of passionate people working to serve and support those that are VBOs and those who want to become one.

Thanks for joining us. I think it’s fair to say my FAKE BUSINESS can finally be called legit! Isn’t it time you created your VBO Lifestyle?

Tom Poole
Founder, VBO Nation
Fellow VBO

Matt Ford

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