Okay, you’re planning for retirement, but what exactly are you planning for? I don’t think most of us think about this. We work and save and work and save, but spend little time figuring out what we’ll actually do when we retire.
In this episode, I interview Tom Schwab of Goodbye Crutches and Inbound for eCommerce. Tom is a great example of someone that overcame a potentially devastating business set back to build a business that he can enjoy well into retirement. There are a lot of great lessons we can learn from his story, such as:
- How your lifestyle choices can set the tone for your entire life.
- Why we’re created to serve.
- How to bounce back from a set back.
- The importance of focusing on people and experience rather than things.
- How to organize your life to stay engaged well into “retirement.”
- How to think intentionally about your career.
Those that retire successfully don’t retire from something; they retire to something.
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The Retirement Answer Man Episode #53
The one lesson I’ve learned from all the people that I’ve worked with over the years is that those that retire successfully, they don’t simply retire from something, they have something to retire to.
Well, hello! This Roger Whitney. Welcome to the Retirement Answer Man Show!
This is the show dedicated to helping you dream up your ideal retirement, plan a course to work towards it, and most importantly, living out a plan that fits what you and your family care about most. I’m very excited to have you here today.
Today, we’re going to start to answer a really important question. I had a question from a listener, Steve, just this morning. He is 59. Sounds like he’s fairly set financially – or he’s done a lot of work, a lot of good work financially – and he’s wondering, “Well, what do I do from here? What do I do in this next phase? I need the structure of my work but it’s killing me!”
We’re going to start to try to answer Steve’s question and then we’re going to have our first retirement profile. I’m going to profile a gentleman who’s in his fifties named Tom Schwab. Tom and I got to know each other here in the last three or four months. About two months ago, right before the “Can Carl Retire?” series, I had a talk with him about how he lives and his thoughts on retirement. He has some very unique views that really resonated with me and I think, from my position anyway, Tom has mastered the art of living life intentionally and I think there are a lot of great lessons that we can all learn from this conversation with Tom and I’m anxious to get your feedback as you listen to it so I look forward to that.
But, before we get to that, let’s have that all-important disclosure and that is only you know your entire financial situation so consider this podcast, my blog, and anything you read on the internet as helpful hints and education because we don’t know anything about you – we really don’t. We’d love to get to know you but I don’t so this is just helpful hints and education. Before you make any decisions, consult the people that do know you and that could be your financial advisor, your legal advisor, or your tax advisor. That’s a fundamental principle of planning well in your life.
Before we get to Steve’s questions, I want to send a quick thank you to JoshC7490 for leaving a review on iTunes. That really helps increase the exposure of the show and bring more listeners which has really helped get us more questions and, more than likely, if a listener has a question, a lot of you have the question as well so that helps us create a lot better content for you so thank you so much for your review, Josh!
Just this morning, I got this question from Steve. He says: “Roger, I do love the podcast,” which is awesome, thank you! “I think I may be in an unusual place. I have about $3 million in retirement assets. I don’t need an income. But I’m struggling what to do at age 59 years old. I need the structure of my job but it’s extremely high pressure and I’d rather move to something less demanding. I just don’t know how to find it.”
Steve, there are so many facets to the question that you’re asking. How do you find what you do in that next phase of life? I’ve experienced this a lot – not just in my own life but in the people that I serve – that, after so many years of working and finding that value and really getting addicted maybe to that rush of achievement and work and interactions and whatever else it is, it’s hard to imagine ourselves doing anything else and that can be really hard. It sounds like you have inkling of what you want to run away from in terms of the high pressure job that you have but you have no clue that, even if you’re financially sound, what would you actually retire to and that’s an extremely important question.
You know, now that you’ve accomplished things – you have your career, maybe you have a marriage, you have children that you’ve raised, you have all of these things that you’ve done – it’s hard to know, well, what’s the rest of your life about?
I think, Steve, what we’ll do is I’m going to give you some general comments on what I’ve seen through all the people that I’ve worked with in the past and I’m going to find someone and do some research to have a whole episode on this one question because I think this is the central question.
What do we do in this next phase of life once we’re looking for more independence? Wanting to slow down but our identity and our passion is so tied up in what we’ve done for so long.
Now, I’ll tell you, rarely do I see anyone not doing something in retirement. It’s very rare that I have a client that is not working in some capacity whether that’s volunteering or even for money. Now, I see them do it much more on their own terms and, in a lot of ways, in a much more passionate engaged way because it’s something they actually enjoy and they love. It’s not something that they are doing for income. They’re not trading time for income. It’s truly more their passion than it is their vocation which really creates a lot of meaning and can be very beautiful, especially if you have income that can come from that as well.
Let me give you some examples. I have clients that are coaches and teachers and tutors. I had clients, after they’ve retired, start very successful business without really that intent. It was something that they had a passion for that just grew on its own – probably because they were so passionate about it. I’ve had clients that are doctors that are in their 70s that still practice in some fashion but more on their own terms, clients that are horse trainers. I have one client that volunteers at a retreat and is basically a general contractor helping that retreat build out and manage all the construction projects going on. I have writers. I have one client who is a neighborhood handyman who basically walks up and down the street and fixes everything for people that are too busy because they have children or dual careers or anything else. I have one client who loves horses and horse racing and does horse handicapping. I have clients that foster dogs. I have clients that work at Walmart in the auto department because they love cars and helping people.
There are so many things that you can do. The key is figuring out: how do you actually find it?
I’ll tell you, Steve, even though I’m only 48 and early in that phase, I went through this type of crisis myself in terms of I had a fairly successful practice – this was a couple of years ago and this is one reason why I do this podcast today – and really enjoyed what I did, I enjoyed the people that I worked with, but I felt it was missing something in terms of really making a difference in the world. I found that, you know what, I could just do this work and hammer it out for another ten or fifteen years and make good money, provide for my family, but really feel like I didn’t change the world in my own little way. I felt a calling to actually do that.
More than likely, you may be feeling that. If not, it may be, “What am I going to do? I know I need to have some structure but what am I going to do?” and I think the place to start is to recognize how highly trained you are right now in whatever your vocation is. You may have highly trained in a hobby or interest that you do outside of your vocation. And then, really start to mine all the experience that you have over your working life – not just in your work but in all facets of your life and find those things that truly are your core passion because, if you think of it, we all have lots of successes – I know I do! We all have lots of scars and lots of failures that we’ve learned from. Not only do we have a lot of skills that we’ve developed in a technical nature, but I have no doubt, Steve, that you have a lot of experience and perspective that you can use to provide value in some way that you’re passionate about.
It sounds like, even though you’re 59, you realize that you need to be doing something. You like that structure of employment so you have something left to give, and those three things – being highly trained, having a lot of experience, and having something left to give – is a powerful combination to figure out what your calling is for this next phase of life and I think it’s really important that you find that out because, I’ll tell you, there are a lot of people that never do and they never turn off from the high pressed career mode and, in some cases, miss the only life that they have.
You know, I’ve shared my experience of my mother who died in her late forties who was definitely this way. She succeeded in anything that she tried, but she never really gave herself that balance to find.
I think it’s your duty, Steve, to explore what that is and that’s what I did for about a year and a half. I actually ended up hiring a personal coach which I had never done before. They’re not inexpensive so it was a leap of faith on my part. In hindsight, it was the best thing that I ever did because they helped me frame what it was that I was thinking inside in terms of what those passions were. They helped me identify those.
You know, coaches, they never really give you all that major insight. They are more – at least this coach, and it work – a sounding board and I was talking to myself and he was affirming that I wasn’t nuts when I was throwing out big ideas. But once I found that coach and really started to frame what my purpose was for the rest of my life, then I had to sit with that for a little bit because now I had to own it. You know, it’s sort of like in the matrix – once you take the pill or whatever it was and you see reality of what your purpose is, it’s hard to ever go back to what you were doing before. I had to own it and it took me a while to sit on that and then, slowly, what I did was I started to surround myself with people that were supportive of the dreams and aspirations that I had because I found a lot of my network supported who I was and not necessarily the things that I was trying to become so you’ll find yourself maybe you want to make sure you have some of those people in your life – and you may already – and then you just set a course or you try to iterate and that’s basically what I did.
That’s why I’m doing what I do today – whether it’s the podcast or how I’m serving clients and how I’m upping my game to help people live well today without sacrificing tomorrow because I think that’s the fundamental issue we’re all trying to figure out. How do we make the most of our life? That’s my calling and that’s why I do this podcast and why I’m in business still and that’s what I’m focused on.
For you, Steve, it sounds like you’re in a high pressure job so you maybe need to first give yourself some margin and just start noodling on that. I think this conversation that you’re going to listen to here in a second with Tom Schwab can really help give you some perspective because I think Tom has thought a lot about this – earlier than most – and he seems to be living very intentionally.
What we’re going to do, Steve, I’m going to do some research and thinking on this and we may do a whole episode just on this one issue because I do think it’s so important.
Now, also this morning, I got a suggestion from Jerry. Jerry says he’s been using Quicken’s Canada Retirement Planner but he’s finding it somewhat of a black box. Inspired by the “Can Carl Retire?” plan, he’s built his own spreadsheet and he says one of the key variables in his planning is future medical costs so he wanted to know, “Can we do some more episodes on Medicare and what it’s all about, what it costs, what it covers, what it doesn’t cover, and should it be implemented? And, if so, to what extent?” and he wanted to have some statistical data around that as well.
Great idea, Jerry! We haven’t talked about this in a while. Again, in the future, I will make an episode that will address some of these things that you brought up. In the meantime, if you go back to Episode #20 –“ Unwrapping Medicare: The Basics” I have a podcast with an expert on Medicare where we unwrap Medicare from a high perspective and then Episode #34 we have health care options before age 65 and we still hit on a lot of issues to deal with Medicare as well. I will have an episode in the future on Medicare but, if you want to go to Episode #20 and #34, you may find some perspective until we get that episode out.
Now, I want to turn to my conversation with Tom Schwab.
I’m going to let him tell you most of his story but he has an amazing story where he had a business, unwound the business so he can find more margin in his life, and then built a business that is a passion of his that he can see himself doing for a very long period of time.
ROGER: I’m here with Tom. Tom is not a financial expert. Would you agree with that, Tom?
TOM: I would 100 percent agree with that.
ROGER: He’s not a financial planner. He has no financial products to sell or estate plans to talk about. He’s just a normal guy. He’s an entrepreneur and Tom and I were having a conversation and I thought it’d be great to have Tom on the show because he has different views about retirement and you can learn from those that are walking the journey with you.
Let me start off with this, Tom. What’s your concept of retirement?
TOM: Well, for me, I don’t see it just stopping. I had a friend that, a few years ago, we talked about what we wanted to do in retirement was work together on businesses that we loved and things that we loved to do because we both realized that, if we stayed home, we’d drive our wives crazy, and this would give us a way to do fun things, write it off as a business expense. Unfortunately, Brian passed away a couple of years ago, but I’m still going ahead with the plan. You know, I want to do fun things in my retirement that aren’t physically taxing but that I enjoy and that I can do in my schedule while I’m living the life that I want to. For me, I’m going to keep working or producing an income on how I want as long as I’m physically possible. To me, my limit is my health – not necessarily a number that the government sets.
ROGER: Now, I’m sorry to hear about your friend Brian. Now, how old are you and how old was Brian?
TOM: I’m 50 years old. He passed away four years ago. He was 46. We both said that every year we were having more and more fun in the work we were doing because we were saying no to the stuff that we didn’t like to do and yes to the fun projects that we did like to do. And so, at that point, we looked at it and said, “If this continues, why would all the sudden, at some arbitrary number, we would just stop at that?” You know, he was definitely at the point of 46 that he could have stopped if he wanted, but he was just having too much fun and, you know, we all get to, I think, a point and I look at that number of when I can stop as, well, it depends how much I want to live after that and, part of me, for a living is doing fun things and I enjoy the work I do.
ROGER: You hadn’t mentioned Brian before so I don’t want to touch a sensitive subject.
TOM: Oh, sure.
ROGER: I guess it was four years ago. Do you think it’s fair to say that, because of that attitude, he was able to live a more full life while he was alive?
TOM: Very much so. You know, we’d gotten to a point in our lives – both of us – where work wasn’t about just providing for the family. We had thankfully been blessed to get past that point and, now, it’s okay. “What creative things? What fun things can I do with that?” To me, I would have more fun doing creative things with people I enjoy than I would sitting home all the time or even playing golf. My golf game is not that good.
ROGER: Now, I’m sure you can recall when you didn’t feel like you had made it, right? In terms of, “Okay, I have my sea legs, I’m financially sound.” Did you still have that kind of attitude?
TOM: I always enjoyed what I did. You know, I think that we’re created to be creators and to help people and to serve people and that’s how I’ve always seen my business. And so, I always had a problem of, “Okay, at a certain time, I’m just going to turn this off.” I think I was young and dumb at a certain point where I thought, “I can keep this pace going forever. You know, I can burn the candle at both ends.” Now, I’m probably more intentional about what work I want to do and what I don’t want to do because it’s got to not only bring in an income but it also has to motivate me on something that I want to do and enjoy doing.
ROGER: Yeah, and a lot of that I’m sure just comes from maturity, right? We’re older in perspective. That’s interesting that you brought up Brian because I contrast it with the story of my mother who was the opposite of you or Brian where she was working and sacrificed her life to provide for her family and we used to have these very heated discussions in college – she died when I was a senior in college – of working for tomorrow and living for today. She was all about sacrificing herself and she would enjoy life alter on. It ended similar to Brian. She died in her late forties and never actually, in my mind, got to find that balance. She basically sacrificed herself for a day that never came. That has formed my concept of retirement – how do you balance living well today without sacrificing your tomorrow? It’s more of a continuum than “let’s just kill ourselves to get to something and then we’ll be happy.”
TOM: Exactly. It’s sort of enjoying the process along. You know, Tim Ferriss talks about taking many retirements and taking time off. I think, if you live more of a balanced life, retirement doesn’t look like this finish line.
The other thing that I’ve come to realize too is – whether you call it wisdom or grey hair – the greatest asset that any of us have really is our health because it doesn’t do us any good if we don’t have to work anymore if we don’t have our health because then we can’t enjoy it. And then, the flip side of that too is, as long as we can have our health, there’s all kinds of creative things that we can do, and with the wisdom and the knowledge that we’ve learned that can bring in an extra income – you know, even if it’s a part-time income in retirement and just working the hours that you want to work.
ROGER: Part of what you’re talking about is that, if you’re going to have this continuum and try to not just live well today but make sure you’re living well later on – and I say the best investment you can make is your health – and, just like compounding in normal investments, the compounding effects of eating healthy and exercising over twenty or thirty years can set yourself up for that journey so you’re not just gasping for air when you’re close to the top when you’re 65.
Let me ask you this. Given that you’re planning your life to live and work a lot longer than the stereotype of “I’m going to retire at 60,” how do you account for the fact that, “Well, yeah, I was planning on working when I was 65,” but, you know, because of how life unfolds, you may not be able to? How do you account for that financially by not building as big as cash pile in terms of retirement savings?
TOM: Well, I still look at it as, you know, building that cash pile in order that – God forbid – something happens and I have to retire so that I’m still planning to be ready to do that. So, putting things aside and building that up but, more so than that, I’m looking at saying, “Well, how great would that be if I don’t have to touch that?” If I can do fun things and work part-time – and I’m not talking about being a Walmart greeter. I’m talking about doing the creative things that I’ve learned over my years and decades of working. If I can do that, well, that nest egg is such a great thing and, you know, the Bible talks about a wise man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. I’m thinking, “Wow, that could really make a difference,” you know? I hope that I don’t have to use that money for my retirement. You know, maybe it could be my grandkids or my great-grandkids’ college education there. I would be thrilled with that.
ROGER: Okay, that’s interesting. Now, do you have legacy dreams of leaving money to your children and your grandchildren? Is that part of what you and your wife care about?
TOM: Yeah, very much so. You know, we live a modest life and we could go ahead and keep ramping that up more and more, but we’ve done that at certain times in our life and realized that, you know, bigger doesn’t always mean better or happier. We really try to focus on the experience things as opposed to a physical thing.
ROGER: Well, let’s talk about that for a second because, in this continuum of, “Okay, I’m not just going to build this huge nest egg and retire. I’m going to be actively engaged doing something,” and it could literally just be volunteer work, theoretically. It doesn’t have to be income-producing. It’s nice if it is but it can be just engagement and expression of what God made you for. But let’s talk a little bit about the lifestyle part of it. How important do you think that is in designing this journey rather than this march towards retirement?
TOM: Yeah, and I wouldn’t even call it “frugally” but within our means and everything and not trying to live beyond our means and live on credit but I think it’s that whole lifestyle of once you get into that habit, it sets the tone for the rest of your life. It sets an example for your kids and your grandkids. I think it’s a consistent thing. I think I would have a really hard time where I’ve seen other people where they’re living in the McMansion with a thirty-year mortgage, refinancing every couple of years. Well, what do you do when all of the sudden you retire and you don’t have an income coming in anymore? You know, for us, that’s not a problem. Thanks to some wise choices, we’re debt-free and we own the house, not the bank. From that standpoint, it takes a whole lot of pressure off – not only now but in the future.
ROGER: And then, a lot of that also, it means you have more margin in your life, right? If life happens to you, you don’t have all these payments to hit. It gives you a lot of flexibility.
TOM: Correct. We’re living for ourselves and deciding what we’re doing as opposed to what do we have to cover for the bank every month or the creditors.
ROGER: I think you used a phrase here just a little bit ago of finding value in experiences and people and not things which is hard to do because all the messaging is telling you to do the exact opposite.
TOM: You know, one of the things I’ve looked back on – and, as we’re getting ready at the Christmas holidays here – ask anybody, “What did you get when you were seven years old for Christmas? What did you get when you were twelve years old for Christmas?” But I tell you what, if you pull out those pictures of that Christmas, you’ll remember the people that were there, the experiences that were there – that type of thing. So, we’re really trying to focus on experience things – be it trips, be it getting family together – not what trinket is unwrapped and forgotten quickly.
ROGER: Okay. Now, I want to pivot. You made some extremely good points. Let’s review those real quick. One was invest in your health because that is going to help build your chassis so you can be active and engage longer term. Live well within your means and find value in experiences. And think of balancing living well today without sacrificing tomorrow so embrace joy now. Don’t just sacrifice your only life for a future that may never come.
Now, I want to ask, you own a business, right?
TOM: I do.
ROGER: And you own a traditional business meaning it’s a brick and mortar – or it was at one point – and you’ve been able to structure that in such a way to manage it with less of your time and leverage it in a fairly unique way. Can you explain a little bit what you’ve done with Goodbye to Crutches?
TOM: Yeah. Well, we started in Southwestern Michigan. It was a sideline business. We had an orthopedic distributorship and, just about the time the economy was tanking, Michigan led the nation. So, the distributors or the manufacturers wanted to buy their distributorships back so we had our mainline business that was selling orthopedic implants to doctors and hospitals, and then we had a sideline business called Goodbye Crutches that was just in Southwest Michigan. So, we went and made the decision to sell back our distributorship and say, “Hey, can we really focus on this sideline business?” and one of the things that was most telling on that is that I had always seen business up to that point as a quota. You know, there’s a dollar, a quota, this is what you’ve got to hit. Certain people would always talk about business being a ministry and I never felt that until we had this sideline business and we rent crutch alternative – those knee scooters and things.
ROGER: I always feel sorry for those people when I see them having to scoot all around.
TOM: We always say we don’t want repeat customers. One time in your life is enough, but these units would come back and half of them would come with thank-you notes and we said, “We’re doing well for people here. We’re doing well while we’re doing good,” or the opposite of that. So, we looked and said, “Can we take this from a regional business to a national business?” With that, over about a four-year period, we started to go more eCommerce and expand it from a regional player to a national leader. In fact, now we’ve got a division in Canada and we’re starting one in Australia and the UK in 2015. And so, it was expanding. We were using this strategy called inbound marketing and that was really fun to learn and to really serve people where we weren’t selling as much – just helping them buy. Then, probably a year and a half ago, looked at it and said, “This is taking more and more of my time. How can I structure the business as such that, as the business doubles in size, my stress doesn’t double in size and my hours don’t double?”
ROGER: Don’t be a victim of your own success.
TOM: At a certain point, I think a lot of business owners say, you know, “If my problems are going to double, then I don’t want to double the size of the business. It’s as good as profitable right here,” so I was able to work with a mutual friend of ours, Chuck Bowen, who really helped me restructure the business and give more authority to some of the people in the business and let them grow up in the business and take more of a leadership role and that gave me more bandwidth or more capacity in my life. As things happened for a reason, I loved it because, just about the time that we were seeing the results of that, my daughter and son-in-law told me that they were expecting and I thought, “Oh! This is great! I’m going to spend next summer babysitting! I’m going to work my part-time thirty-hour job here and then I’m going to be this babysitter.” You know, it was sort of like retirement. It’s like, “Yes! This is what I want to do!” Well, it was great and I enjoyed it and everything but in small portions and, you know, it helped when I could. At that point, I looked at it and I said, “I have this extra bandwidth, what other fun things can I do to fill that in?” and, for years, I’d been asked by other people, “Hey, can you help me get the same results with inbound marketing that you did?” With that, we started another company called Inbound for eCommerce. I always say that I’ve got two businesses now and I’m passionate about both of them.
ROGER: And it doesn’t feel like work.
TOM: Exactly, you know.
ROGER: So, if you think about that, you know, some people might be listening, “Oh, this guy’s a business owner. He has all this acumen. You know, I can’t be that!” But, if you look back – and correct me if I’m wrong – you were this guy in Michigan – and I’m from Michigan, originally – and you were getting hit with the economy, especially in Michigan getting hit with the economy, and you had this little side business that you were – I’ll call it – tinkering on in your off time that ended up becoming your mainline business, and it wasn’t like you had some master plan, I would assume. It was just you kept working the problem.
TOM: Exactly. I mean, the master plan comes as you’re going along with it and entrepreneurs, a lot of the times, they say they jump out of the plane, they’ll figure out how to work the parachute on the way down, and you don’t have all the answers. I would say most of the great – I would say all the great answers that we ever got was just learning from listening to the customers – what they told us along the way. I also laugh when I look back now and see my five-year business plan. It’s the best piece of fiction I have ever written.
ROGER: That’s what I say about retirement plans. Life changes so much that it’s not that valuable. It’s good for thinking, envisioning, but beyond that…
TOM: Yeah, and all the projections I did… the graphs were beautiful! I mean, the bank was really impressed by the charts. But, really, it was more the overall strategy of, “Hey, what do I want to do? Why do I want to do it? What do I want this to look like in the future?” and I think a business plan or a retirement plan is very similar, you know. What do you want your future to look like? For me, it was my business. I could make it look like anything I wanted. I was creating it and sort of the same way for the retirement. If I wanted to change my strategy, I could say, “Yeah, I’m going to retire at 55,” and I could do it but I’d just know that I’d be overweight and my wife would probably be ready to kill me by 56 if I retired at 55.
ROGER: Yeah, now I just wanted to bring that up because a lot of people, you know, they hear these success stories and they’re like, “Well, yeah, but they had this or that or the other thing.” For you – and, again, correct me if I’m wrong – I mean, you were sitting there. You had a business where you had a distributorship and I’m sure at some point you thought, “Man, this is it, I could just ride this,” and didn’t realize that, when life hit you, you were going to have to pivot. Luckily, you were intentional enough. You basically had to recreate yourself.
TOM: Man, now you’re bringing up the bad feelings that we had in Southwestern Michigan.
ROGER: That’s what people love. They love to hear that pain and suffering because there’s a good ending.
TOM: It was scary! I mean, we went from most of the implants that we sold were for elective surgery. When people get scared, they don’t do things. If all of the sudden your knee or your hip’s been hurting for the last couple of years or you’ve had a bunion, all of the sudden, when the economy tanks and you don’t know if you’re going to have money for the mortgage, you don’t know if you’re going to have health insurance, all these elective surgeries just disappeared overnight. Our business tanked and we were tied to a geography and this was the only place that we could sell to. You know, our manufacturers were beating on us to sell more and, you know, the doctors that were usually working twelve-hour days, they were taking a vacation too because they just don’t have the patients. And so, it was a really, really, really scary time. I guess I don’t think about that as much now until you brought it up. I look at where we’ve come from there, and I’m sure there will be other scary times, you know, in the next couple of decades. But it just happened in the vision of where you want to get to through that.
ROGER: And I think that’s a really important point for anybody listening because we all know that, going through corporate jobs, that we feel like we have this contract with the company but, when things happen – you know, lay-offs or buyouts or anything else – all of the sudden, if you don’t think intentionally, in my world of having little conversations about your financial life and planning for those rainy days, or if you don’t think intentionally like you did of having other interests or things that you’re working on in the garage, your business, that can come in and hopefully help take that place when life actually does happen, that’s when you feel like you’re at the mercy of everything. So, that’s an important lesson that you went through and you’re a model of what can happen. And then, your inbound marketing plan, your business there, is to help people that have these little things they’re tinkering in with the garage – whether it’s selling knick-knacks or selling crutches and – what are those things called? Scooters.
TOM: Yup, knee scooters.
ROGER: Yeah. I mean, how niche is that? It doesn’t have to be some mass market thing that you’re thinking of. All these little, I mean, that’s an online business which is really cool because it’s very unordinary.
TOM: That’s one of the things I love – working with other companies – because, sometimes, it’s always more interesting to work on somebody else’s fun project. You know, because, crutch alternatives, that is not a sexy or a fun product. It’s funny, at Inbound’s conference last year, they had a ranking of the most unsexy products to sell with inbound marketing, and crotch alternatives lost out to industrial lubricants. So, when I start talking with other businesses, yesterday I was talking to a gentleman that makes home gaming systems. It’s sort of the arcade of everything you played u the 70’s and the 80’s.
ROGER: Robotron. That’s mine.
TOM: Yeah, all those great games in one, and I’m like, “This is fun!” I love working with companies like that. You know, it’s the same principles that we use. If it’ll work with crutch alternatives, it’ll definitely work for fun products.
ROGER: And that’s the key – don’t think you have to have some cool, sexy product. You have to fill a need that’s out there and it’s something that you are passionate about – whether it’s helping people and having it as a ministry or not. So, how can people find more about you? Obviously, you can go to goodbyecrutches.com to see your mainline business, but talk about the other business of helping entrepreneurs attract clients online which seems to be difficult for a lot of people.
TOM: Yeah, our inbound business is called Inbound for e-Commerce and that’s our main commerce or main site. But there’s also one that we have started that’s been a whole lot of fun. It’s called Inbound Movement and it came from answering all kinds of questions from different business owners and we set it up almost like Shark Tank meets Inbound Marketing but you don’t get the money and you don’t have to give up the equity in your company. But, at Inbound Movement, you can go ahead and just leave a video or an audio message, just introduce your company a little bit, ask a question that you’d like answered, and we go ahead and answer it from an inbound perspective, and also give you a free little bit of public relations with that and some exposure there. Really inbound marketing is all about outbound is ads, yelling, and interruption. Inbound is being helpful and it’s a great way to use the tools of the internet to attract visitors, engage leads, and really delight customers, and that’s what business has always been about and the tools of the internet allow us small businesses of any size with any budget to really play with the big boys on that by just out-caring and out-serving their customers.
ROGER: Very cool. What I love is that you have done it. It’s not theory for you. You’ve walked this journey which is really cool which is unusual in a lot of ways. So, thanks so much, Tom, for sharing your ideas on retirement and what you are doing. That’s pretty cool.
TOM: Thank you, Roger! I really enjoyed it and all the best to you and your audience.
ROGER: Now, I want to encourage you to tune in for next week’s episode because next week I’m going to give you the lay of the land for the new series starting in March. “Can Bill and Sally Retire?” and I’m really excited about this. Your feedback was so strong from the “Can Carl Retire?” series that we’re going to do something similar. This going to be a case study this time but I’m going to incorporate a lot of the facts or the feedback that you gave me as we went through the “Can Carl” series. So, Bill and Sally, this is going to be their second marriage. They started saving late, they don’t have a pension, and they are worried about the economy and the market. So, we are going to do just like we did with “Can Carl.” We’re going to identify their ideal retirement, look at their financial resources, look at the risks in their life, and help them create a retirement plan, negotiate a retirement plan that fits all the competing interest in their life.
Next week, I’m going to give you the lowdown on Bill and Sally and give a roadmap for all the cool things that we’re going to do in March and the opportunity that you have to plan alongside Bill and Sally so make sure you tune in next week.
And, as always, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. It means so much to me. If you have any feedback, go to rogerwhitney.com and you can click on You Ask, I ANSWER or just send me an email. I take it to heart and I work to build content that fits the things that you care about most.
Until next week, this is Roger Whitney, the Retirement Answer Man.