Andrew Wadsworth is the founder of IT Mooti, a company that implements automation systems for its clients, and the creator of add-on software XOSync and Vital Statistics. Despite his mostly virtual interactions with clients, Andrew is passionate about people and communities. He sees entrepreneurship and small business as an important catalyst for serving the well-being of local communities.
In This Episode
Andrew Wadsworth is passionate about the role of small business as “the catalyst for change in communities.” In this episode of Modern Ontrapreneur, this long-time Ontraport supporter expands on those beliefs and also shares how he’s made referral partnerships work “like a good marriage,” why a solid accounting system is critical for any business, and how he’s found ways to fill in the gaps in software for small business.
0:57 Problem Solver
Filling in the gaps in other companies’ softwares.
4:37 Understand What Niche Is
If you are good at one thing, focus on that and it is easier to scale.
5:55 Referral Partners
With little to no marketing, referral partners bring in quality leads.
8:12 New Integrations and Dashboards
Andrew’s next two projects are two sides of a coin: super niche and broad.
10:22 Youth Can Be Successful Without University
With no ambition to be famous or wealthy, Andrew hopes to inspire and lead a younger generation to start their businesses without needing to rely on going to a university.
11:27 What It Means to Be a Modern Entrepreneur
Give back to your local community by funding new ventures (especially in the arts) and practice sustainability.
LR: Welcome to Modern Ontrapreneur. I’m Landon Ray. Today, we have Andrew Wadsworth who is the founder of IT Mooti, a company that delivers insights and implement systems for their clients. Despite his mostly virtual interactions with clients, Andrew is passionate about sustainability and in visions of future, where communities care for each other and grow cultures that are inspired by the biodiversity that surrounds them. He sees entrepreneurship and small business as an important catalyst for bringing this vision to life, because an efficient business is able to invest locally in projects that serve the well-being of the community. Awesome, Andrew.
LR: I didn’t actually even know that about you. But I’m going to actually say what I do know about you, which is that you help a lot of small businesses figure out their IT concerns, right? And probably, like across the board, people come to you who are just like fed up with it, and they employ your team to probably want everything from websites to systems, to reporting, to … are you going to tell us?
AW: Problem solving really, isn’t it? So, someone will come to us with something they’re stuck on, and then I like to problem solve. I figure out the best way to do it and then project manage, building that. So with Ontraport, over the years, there’s been gaps in what people want with the app. So, if there’s a gap that I see an opportunity in, I’ll build something to fit in that little gap until you guys build it into the app.
LR: And you’re out of Melbourne?
AW: No. Mullumbimby is a little town close to Byron Bay, just south of the Gold Coast.
LR: Oh okay. I didn’t realize that. Then you’ve kind of got like a system where it’s not like necessarily a one-off, but it’s like a subscription service?
AW: Yeah, we have a subscription service called a technology partnership, which we have a few clients on, and that’s more our consulting thing. What we do is we have a weekly meeting with a client where we look at their stats. We run that on their KPIs. So what we’re trying to do is really look at where they want to go with their business and make sure we’re measuring and going, doing … what we’re doing is actually aligned with the goals that they’re trying to do. So, we build a dashboard, a business intelligence dashboard. We take the data out of their accounting system, their CRM. We know what the KPIs are. And then if they ask me, “Let’s build a membership site or build this product. Is this aligned with the vision? Is it going to get us where your goals want you to take … ” And that’s how we work with the client.
LR: Yeah. So, how long have you been at it?
AW: IT Mooti was founded in 2013. It was my second business, and it was a partnership between me and Jason Paizes who’s another consultant. Our vision was that we were going to create a cookie-cutter sort of systemized approach that we could then go to a vertical and start selling to. But we found that the kind of clients that were coming to us had all different kinds of problems, and both Jason and I just love solving problems, so we just went really wide. That got me into really learning a lot. And so, the first two to three years of IT Mooti, it was really all about learning, taking on as many different problems we could and try to make products out of them when we could. There might have been a problem someone needed, and I said, “Well, do you mind if you part-fund that?” And then we created it into a product and then we can sell it to other people. So, that’s how we started creating our first plugins and integrations and things like that.
LR: Right, and what was the business you had before that?
AW: It was a cleaning business. It was a franchise called oven clean. So instead of going to university and getting an MBA, I bought a franchise.
LR: Yeah, why not?
AW: Played around for three years. I hit a limit with that, because the franchisor didn’t understand anything online. They wanted us to do leaflets and all that sort of stuff. They didn’t even really care about a website. I was already in the cloud. I was really wanting to have a business that was totally integrated in the cloud. So, I got out of that business, and then I met a like-minded guy who had a really good opportunity in property services, so that’s when we signed up for Ontraport in 2009.
LR: So you’ve been on it then for … it sounds like 13, so four or five, six, seven, eight years, something like that?
AW: Yeah. So with Ontraport, I’ve been using Ontraport since 2009, but as IT Mooti, 2013.
LR: If you could flash back in time to 2008, say, and give that younger guy a tip that would make it all easier, what would it be?
AW: I think it would be understanding what nicheing means. I see now that, the opportunity is if you’re really good at one thing, and you do it well, you can scale that a lot easier. It’s taken me quite a few years to realize that.
LR: It seems like you’re still really realizing it. You just told me that you’re going wide instead of deep.
AW: That’s right. Exactly right. But now, I am getting things … So you know, when you build something quickly and release it, and test it out and it works, and then you can start adding bits on? So that’s always what I’ve done. But now that I’ve got some things that are working really well, I can now … It’s not as fun for me to then push that thing out. I like to move on to the next thing.
LR: Move on to the next thing, yeah.
AW: But that’s what my advice would be. It’d be, you know, you’ve got to step back and figure out what’s actually working. A real business is something that is predictable in turning … You can actually step away and have someone else do it, because there’s a procedure and a policy in place and they’re able to follow those guidelines, and then you can step away and start visioning the next thing, without being in the trenches.
LR: So, what is the thing that’s really working for you to get those clients for IT Mooti right now?
AW: Referral partners. We don’t do any marketing, being a consultant and product. We could probably market our products better, but generally, the projects, we get referrals. Ontraport is a big referral of ours.
LR: Of course.
AW: And then, also, some of the other business coach style companies, like in Australia, we have Basic Bananas, Business Blueprint, James Schramko, those guys that teach businesses the frameworks of success, but then don’t implement, and then they’re like, “I need someone to implement. I’ll go talk to Andrew Wadsworth.” So, they’re the kinds of leads that I get, and then I can generally find something to start with, with someone. Often, they think they need this and that, and then I’m just, “Well what’s your goal?”
LR: “Let’s do one thing.”
AW: “What do you want to do? Where do you want to be next year?” Okay, well, then let’s get that thing done. It could be automating their quoting process. Just starting with that.
LR: Yeah. How do you think about building those relationships? Because, you know, having a business that’s basically driven by three or four key referral partners is amazing, but you have to actually go get those three or four.
AW: You do, yeah. So, it’s a long-term relationship. It’s a good relationship. It’s like a good marriage in many ways. You’ve got to get to know each other and you’ve got to be able to give and care for them. So, you know, all of my referral partners are also my friends, and I will offer them services in the beginning. So, for example, I only met Christo for the first time last year on Basic Bananas. We were in the same community, but I never met him before. I listened to some of the problems they were having, and I was like, “Hey, I’ve got something that’ll be awesome for you guys,” and I just gave it to them and that was where that started. So it’s about showing someone … and I think if you’re a young person and you’re interested in learning, go and work for free. So, I still take that. I still do that. If there’s someone that I want to work with, I’m not going to ask them to pay me. I’m just going to go and give them something for free, and then they can see what the quality of the work is, if we can work together, and then start from there, you know, building something.
LR: So what are you learning right now? What is the thing you’re struggling with, trying to figure out? What’s the next thing you….
AW: Yeah, so, I’ve got XOSync, which is an integration between Xero and Ontraport. It’s a very niche integration. So, it’s Ontraport users who also use Xero, who also sell in Ontraport. It’s not all Ontraport users necessarily selling Ontraport either. If they’re a consultant, they might be invoicing out of Xero not necessarily. There also a need to be a business that understands why accounting is important, and why your books need to be up to date.
LR: Unlike mine.
AW: Like a lot of businesses. So anyway, what I’ve done is I’ve created something that’s so niche that, to market it, it’s a little bit tricky. Then I’ve got this other product, which is Vital Statistics, which is business intelligence dashboards, and I want to be able to build something that, at the moment, I’m like, “Oh what’s important for your business? Okay, let’s go and build that,” and it takes 30 days to implement. What I want to do is have something that’s a little bit more easier to implement quick for Ontraport users. So I guess where it comes to, for me, is it’s creating a product that is scalable enough that I can add clients in quicker and then market it. I’ve never actually done any real online marketing. I’ve worked with clients and implemented for them before I run stuff. It’s always, I’m just used to referrals and growing organically. So, I guess that’s where I’m at with our products. And so, making the product a little bit more friendly for anybody and probably making it a little bit more generic, and then they’re being able to market it, and that’s exciting. I’ve started doing it with XOSync. We started to do Facebook ads, and we’re targeting Ontraport users, people interested in Xero. I want to bring Xero users to Ontraport next. I think that’s a great campaign to start focusing on. There’s a million Xero users. So, automation is awesome for any business. It’s about taking some of those users. And, I like those clients, because I like businesses that understand accounting. I want businesses that really do care about their balance, not just their seven-figure income, you know? So, for me, it’s really important to know that it’s a sustainable business that you can sell. It’s something that is an asset.
LR: So, you’re a young guy still, but if you can imagine 20, 30 years down the road looking back in your career, what would you like your legacy to be? What are you building here?
AW: I think if I could work with young people to get them into business and have them be successful at a younger age … not thinking they have to go to university … get started, and I think that would be cool, to know that I’m 50, 60 years old and there’s plenty of young people out there that I helped inspire or to start their businesses. I don’t have an ambition to be famous or wealthy. I love living my small sustainable life in my little community. So I think that once I get to a point where I’m more financially secure and don’t need to work five days a week, those extra days I have I would love to be working with young people and inspiring them to start thinking about how you can create a financially viable business plan and get started and try things out, become an entrepreneur.
LR: Yeah, so, we call this thing modern entrepreneur, because we’re trying to figure out what it means really to be an entrepreneur in this kind of moment in time. Everything is moving so quickly, and we’re all having to relearn everything like every year, and it presents all kinds of new opportunities. And also, we think some interesting responsibilities the way the landscape is today. And so, we’re just trying to shine a light on what those might be. What do you think those things are?
AW: Yeah. Well, I think that entrepreneurship and small business is where we need to be that that’s the real catalyst in change and in communities. If you look at Africa and Asia and places that people have been struggling, when they’re given a microloan to start a small sewing business, they’re actually able to change the whole community, especially women in business. I did go to university for a little while and studied sustainability and that’s some of the stuff that I was learning, and the stuff I was reading was how impactful small business is. The thing that I think we need to transition out of is big business. Big business for me is not good for humanity and it’s not good for the planet, but small business is awesome. So some people join these extremes of like, “Yeah, I love business,” and, “No, I’m a socialist.” But I think we forget that it’s not about business or no business. It’s not about capitalism or not capitalism. I think there’s this real … There’s this great area of entrepreneurship and ideas and in small business, but you’re actually giving back to your community; you’re giving jobs in your community. You start out in the farmers market with your idea and you end up creating a little hole-in-the-wall store, and then you have a couple more stores. I’m seeing that happening in great towns all across the world, towns that haven’t been ripped away by large corporations. My wife comes from a small town in Wisconsin. Their downtown’s dead. There’s nothing there. There’s a massive Walmart on the highway. Everyone works there now.
LR: That’s it.
AW: And there’s no … Yeah, it’s not nice. I don’t like that. So I think a modern entrepreneur is someone who is finding those opportunities in their community, giving back to their community, and they’re also … The community also is working with them and seeing the real cost, like, the cost of buying something so cheap from a factory has a cost that you don’t have to pay for right now. So I don’t have to pay for the sewerage that’s going into a Chinese river, but someone does those. True economic costs that we’re not factoring in are hitting us now. So, I think, the modern entrepreneur is someone who’s aware of that, still loves business and wants to create a business that it considers that, and also then is viable and creates profit that they can then fund art, and fund music, and fund cultural changes in the world, and don’t rely on governments for that. We can fund those things.
AW: Isn’t that exciting? Like, make a profitable business, and then you’re funding a new circus. That’s cool, you know?
LR: Yeah. It’s almost like I’m hearing you saying that, when businesses get so big that, like no one person in the business feels responsible for the community anymore. It takes on its own life that only eats things and only looks out for profit, whereas as small businesses, we remember that we’re human and a part of a community, and we can make almost moral decisions about how to behave in our environment. So our responsibility then, as entrepreneurs, is to remember that we’re participants in a local community and that the impact that we make means something. It has an impact whether it’s good or bad, and we have control over that.
AW: Exactly. When I see someone who needs something, my mind starts thinking, “How can I help them?” I think if I’m an employee of a larger organization, I’m getting an income. I don’t have enough income to be able to help them necessarily, maybe a little bit. But when you’ve got a business and you see someone with a problem, you really can fund something that you want to fund. There might be an artist that you love and want to help them make their first album. I was just watching the Heath Ledger documentary. There’s a documentary on his life. He died at 28, but all through his career, as he went from a kid out of Perth, my hometown, to Hollywood star, with Batman movies sort of credentials. He always was funding for things all the way along, and it was always in the arts. He was very passionate about musicians. I think that’s cool. Even someone in … He’s not an entrepreneur, but he’s a high-paid Hollywood star, was constantly throughout his career giving back, finding ways of helping his friends in their businesses, starting up a record company doing this. I like that. That’s what inspires me in business, those opportunities, and it was what he loved. It wasn’t that, Hollywood was saying, “Oh you should fund Breast Cancer Awareness Week.” He wasn’t moved by that. He was moved more by music.
LR: Awesome. Andrew, thank you so much for being here. It’s been a total pleasure.
LR: Would you be willing to sign our wall?
LR: Thank you.
Want more Modern Ontrapreneur Podcast?
Check out the previous episode featuring Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society.