• Laura L Bernhard

How To Pivot Your Services as a Solopreneur

After three months of being quarantined, solopreneurs already adapted their products and services - for the most part. I wanted to know how things we're going for someone who had to completely pivot his/her services. So, I interviewed Alain Guillot.


Before the pandemic, he owned one of the most popular dance schools in Montreal. He was also an event photographer. As you can imagine, his businesses completely shut down when Corona hit.


Within two weeks of his businesses closing, he learned about developing WordPress websites and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He offered his services, for free, to build a portfolio and then started charging for his services. Now, just three months later, he's almost a full business.


Alain has a great perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur. He also spoke to me about his podcast where he interviews a wide range of people. For example, Alain interviewed the first female bodyguard in the U.K., Jacquie Davis. Her story is so wild, Netflix told her story in a movie called Close.


You can listen to our interview on how to pivot your services in the playbox to the right. Alternatively, watch the interview on The No Formula Podcast's YouTube channel. To read the transcript, keep scrolling.


Show Notes:

Notable Quotes:


"This is the thing about entrepreneurs: we as entrepreneurs, we don't have to be an expert in anything. We just have to know that there is a possibility to learn. And there is a possibility to create value for other people and the same way that people use to find a job like, Oh, I want to be a nurse, and then they look for nursing opportunities. Well as entrepreneurs, we say, oh, people need help with this kind of niche in the market in this niche, the only one, and we have to put our entrepreneurial glasses and see where is the need and where we can add value."


"This is a female bodyguard in England. Her life was so interesting that Netflix took her life story and made it into a movie. One of their adventures is, she went into Pakistan. She dressed herself with a burqa so only she could-- people could see her eyes. She had the-- I don't know, guns and grenades underneath her burqa, and she went there in a rescue operation to rescue an English girl who was kidnapped and converted into a sex slave. So you know, and this, this woman is telling me this story of how this happened. And then I see her movie two months later in Netflix, and to have this connection with this, you know, amazing people."


Transcript of Interview with Alain Guillot


Laura L. Bernhard

So Alain, thank you so much for being here with us today. After everything with the pandemic and COVID-19. Um, things are finally starting to look positive for everybody, things are starting to change, businesses are opening up. First and foremost, I want to ask you, before the pandemic started, I know that you were working on certain businesses. Can you tell us a little bit about those and then how you pivoted when the pandemic hit?


Alain Guillot

Oh, yes, I had two businesses. One was a dance school, which requires is impossible to do without physical contact. And one of those dances happened to be Argentine Tango, where we are nose to nose, we are practically kissing and our whole body is making contact, you know, contact. So one of those dances-- but of course the other dances are Salsa which is just-- has a lot of touching and breathing in each other's faces. Of course, that couldn't continue. And then the other one is a photography business. I specialize mostly in event. So I don't do portaits or objects I do corporate events, weddings, birthdays, anything that there-- requires a huge gathering of people. So all of those, they were out of the table like right from the start, and I happen to see this pandemic, in a pessimistic point of view. I saw one of my friends, they thought that it will be like a couple of weeks and it will go away but, I didn't buy that. I thought that it was going to last a long time. And ye-- well, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to continue to get I like to be active. I, I don't like just to sit around And do nothing I, I am a-- an addicted entrepreneur. So I always had to have something going. So right away. I took some, um, classes, internet classes. I took a class on how to do a website and another class on how to do SEO. And I did have some previous knowledge but it was very, very basic, you know, like no, no much different than changing your page in Facebook. But I submerged myself for almost a week is staying up until three o'clock in the morning, learning about how to use different templates for to build websites and then how to do SEO in order to bring businesses to the Holy Grail is to bring them to the first page of Google and I yeah, I became obsessed on that and then I started offering free services because of course, who am I to be charging for this? So I approached a few of my friends and I say, "Hey, I noticed you don't have a website, can I build you one for free?" And this was, of course, I have my knowledge that I learned from those courses, internet classes, and now I has some real knowledge. And then once those websites came out, okay, then I started charging. And now I have almost a sustainable business. I mean, I still have lots of room to grow. But in the span of, what is it? --three months, I went from knowing nothing about website and knowing nothing about SEO to now someone who gets paid for doing that. And-- and this is the thing about entrepreneurs we as entrepreneurs we don't have to be expert in anything. We just have to know that there is a possibility to learn. And there is a possibility to create value for other people and the same way that people use to find a job like, Oh, I want to be a nurse, and then they look for the nursing opportunities. Well as entrepreneurs, we say, oh, people need help with this kind of niche in the market in this niche, the only one, and we have to put our entrepreneurial glasses and see where is the need and where we can add value.


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah, I love that. I love that you were able to pivot so quickly though. So I just want to recap your story. You had a business in dancing and photography. As soon as the pandemic hits, they vanish. Within a week, you teach yourself new skills.


Alain Guillot

Well, let me just interrupt you. I cry for one week.


Laura L. Bernhard

Okay haha


Alain Guillot

I cry for one week. Because of course I-- and then I cry for one week and then once I dry my tears and finish sobbing into one shoulder,


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah.


Alain Guillot

And then I pivot and did something.


Laura L. Bernhard

Okay. Okay, so it took two weeks to pivot. But that's fine. That's so crazy. That's awesome, right? Okay, so they vanish, you cry, you learn new skills. And it took you one week to learn how to build websites and learn the basics of SEO.


Alain Guillot

Right. Right.


Laura L. Bernhard

Can I ask you like, cause I know there's a wealth of information on the internet about both topics, How did you know where to sign up? Like which classes were good?


Alain Guillot

Okay, I went to Udemy and they happen to have a free website thing. Okay, so there that gave me kind of a foundation. And then I went to YouTube, which I think is the best teacher of the world. I mean, you professors in all the high-level universities yells harbor or you name it MIT, they are putting their classes for free in YouTube. So, people, is nob internet classes are something that Oh, that's for the rest of them, those for people who cannot pay For real classes, but these are the real high level, no prize winner professors who teach at this Ivy schools University, putting the whole lectures for free for the rest of us. And, you know, I have some other friends who are going taking University classes right now online. And I hate what they're doing, which is a professor give a lecture the same way as before, to assume. So me as a student, I had to put my body on my chair at six o'clock, even though the whole class I could do it at one o'clock in the morning or six o'clock at night or, you know, he says why, if he's done over the internet, why does he have to be at this particular hour? Why cannot be pre-recorded and just made available at whatever time and I happen to work better at night? You know, like you hear all these you got to wake up at four o'clock in the morning in order to be a successful entrepreneur. Well, that's for one particular that's for the author. Have that or the one who's speaking that but some of us we like to stay up to, I don't know from light to work from 10 o'clock at night on to one or two o'clock in the morning and that's when we feel like oh, I have no distractions and I can focus and you know, all I need is just the space and the quietness and, and the curiosity to continue exploring new venues.


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah, I used to do that too. I used to, when I was in school, I used to start studying at 10 pm and then stay up till like two, three o'clock in the morning because it's so quiet! There are no distractions, nobody's texting you, there's nothing on TV there's-- it's great.


Alain Guillot

And then you hear that in order to be successful you have to wake up at five o'clock in the morning, do your morning ritual, don't take your phone because it's gonna ruin your whole day. No, that's-- that's, that, that works for the person who says it but it doesn't work for everybody else.


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah, it depends on the person for sure.


Alain Guillot

And make your bed.


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah-- Ha! Yeah, you have to be successful. Okay, so you go to Udemy, right? And you find these courses, you do these courses in a week, you give out your services for free, but, then how do you how do you start gathering new customers?


Alain Guillot

Well, wow, okay. You see? I am-- I mean, the possibilities are so vast.


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah,


Alain Guillot

It's so-- so incredible. Okay, so for example, a lot of people ignore this but, Kijiji happens to be a resource, and not only you can put an ad in Kijiji Montreal, but Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, whatever, okay, you don't put it over-- I don't know 200, 300 cities. So the problem becomes how are you going to manage all this traffic because the problem is not, how do I get clients, is how do I get just enough for me to keep busy but not overwork myself? So that's one thing they are. The other thing is I did a website for Toastmasters International for one of the clubs. Well, there are about seven, no-- there are 14,000 clubs, globally. So I can use the sample website that I did and approach all the other clubs that don't have a website. They just have like a Facebook page, and I said, "Hey, look at this website. I'm a member of this club called Toastmasters International. Look at this website that I did for this club. I can make one for you as well." So now they have me as a-- I'm a member so they some connection already. They have the social proof that an old club has done it and they can see exactly the end result. I'm-- I'm part of LinkedIn Local Montreal, and I do one for LinkedIn Local Saguenay, so now I can take this sample and send it to all the LinkedIn local in the world, which are like 10,000 of them. So, you know, that-- there's an overabundance of clients. And in addition to that, I have 4000 connections in LinkedIn, and half of them don't have a website and they don't know how important-- I could just get into the habit of sending five emails every morning. You know, hey, you know, I noticed your website sucks or you don't have a website and you know, I can help you out you know, yes, just without mortgaging my whole life in this email, I just send several every day and, and there's so much clientele is just is it's just almost hard to believe.


Laura L. Bernhard

I love how you see everything is an opportunity. It's actually so motivating is now I feel like I can just go help the world. I love it. And, you also said the importance of a website-- you notice people didn't have a website. I didn't realize that so many people didn't have websites. In today's world of technology.


Alain Guillot

I-- it is incredible, especially people who call themselves experts in X. You know? Expert in X, okay, if you are an expert, how come you don't have a website that says that you are an expert in nerves? You know, it's open. Yeah, it's very easy to open a LinkedIn profile and call yourself whatever you want to call-- and you know, and let's not get into Instagram or Facebook or whatever. And then another thing for now, so people who call themselves experts in whatever, okay, because now I'm an expert in SEO, I can go and see-- I have like an X-ray machine that allows me to see into their website, for example, so your website, your domain name, in writing. Okay, so you don't have permission to do that. I can see that. I can see how many links you have to your website, who's linking to you, who are you linking to, all that so people cannot bullshit me when I see their website, they cannot tell me you know, I have X amount of clients on whatever when I can see that they don't have that. So, so it gives me the ability to-- to talk and find things and say, Okay, this is what I offer you because you don't have this already.


Laura L. Bernhard

Mhm. That's so interesting because I always see everyone saying, "Oh, yeah, I'm an expert at this expert at that" but, I never think to go look for their website. Now. I'm gonna go look. Because now like, "oh, wait a minute."


Alain Guillot

No, only I can send you some tools so you can see exactly-- because there are some websites that look beautiful. Okay, yeah. But if they have no traffic because I can also see if they have traffic. You know if they have no traffic, it just doesn't matter how beautiful they are.


Laura L. Bernhard

Teah. You can also see the traffic?


Alain Guillot

I can see how much traffic our website has. I can see who links to it, who the-- and who you link to. Yeah, it's so much. I can Yeah.


Laura L. Bernhard

I have to start looking at these courses to see. Because I know that's what you saw on my website and the no formula podcast and you were like, "Umm... your website sucks." No. Okay. So, I also kind of want to talk about your podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about it?


Alain Guillot

Well, I have always-- Okay, it started when I had my dance school. I was looking for some marketing idea. So I started looking in YouTube, but you know, when you look something in YouTube, you have to sit down and you have to just pay attention. So I decided to look into podcasts about marketing. So I do all the things and a think-tank consumer podcast. This is like their competitive advantage that podcast has over all other mediums, you know whether so I started doing that. And I started getting some good marketing ideas. My-- my dance school, at one time, used to be one of the most profitable dance schools in the city. He wasn't the most beautiful, he wasn't the most well known. But I managed to have the right clientele for my website at a price that it was good for the client and it was good for us. So-- So um, so all that I was learning over our marketing to podcasting. And then I kind of became addicted, I fell in love with certain personalities and I couldn't wait to the podcast this and these other person came to and in a moment I say, well-- you know, I-- Maybe I would like to start a podcast as well. And I started about two and a half years ago, I started interviewing all the people, I wanted to take some of their ideas and also their motivation, you know, people who are interviewed that I'm interviewing them because they have achieved something and, and I can benefit from that knowledge and, and they are so willing to share it with people. So I say why not? And you know, I now I speak to New York Times bestseller authors practically every day. Could you imagine you read a book? And you say, Oh, I would like to ask this author about why he wrote this, you know, and then you ask, "Hey mister author, why do you write this?" and he tells you or she tells you, yeah, you know, this is this is there, too-- And to be honest, I don't earn one penny in my podcast because I don't make any money but, I will continue doing it for the rest of my life without earning any money because I think that I get so much out of it. I get so much knowledge and relationship, you know, I can just email practically famous person and ask them a question. I just did that today. How do you do this to someone with whom I did a podcast almost two years ago?


Laura L. Bernhard

Crazy.


Alain Guillot

It's crazy, yeah.


Laura L. Bernhard

I love it. I know. That's what I love about podcasting, too, is you meet such interesting people. I just have so much knowledge all the time. And then sometimes I even re-listen to some episodes and I'm like, "oh good!" And I like, take notes and stuff. I love it.


Alain Guillot

If I could, I'm just gonna, very fast, tell you about an amazing podcast. This is a female bodyguard in England. Her life was so interesting that Netflix took her life story and made it into a movie. One of their adventures is, she went into Pakistan. She dressed herself with a burqa so only she could-- people could see her eyes. She had the-- I don't know, guns and grenades underneath her burqa, and she went there in a rescue operation to rescue an English girl who was kidnapped and converted into a sex slave. So you know, and this, this woman is telling me this story of how this happened. And then I see her movie Two months later in Netflix, and to have this connection with this, you know, amazing people I also spoke about with someone who did 18 years in prison because, because he was a gangster in a gang, whatever. And then in prison, he changed his life. He decided to help the community and help people who are coming out of prison and to have this person tell you their life story, you know, like one to one and you'll be able to ask questions on why this, and why the other thing is just an amazing feeling. You don't get to speak with people with amazing stories on our everyday life. So it's just an amazing medium.


Laura L. Bernhard

How do you find the people you get on your podcast? Because I feel like these are very, very unique stories that I wouldn't even imagine saying like, I'm gonna find a secret agent from England who did a rescue mission like I would have never thought.


Alain Guillot

Okay, so-- so when you're a podcaster, first of all, you learn the art of prospecting. So for example, the guy who came out of prison, he did a TED talk about toxic masculinity. I think that's the way it's pronounced. So he did, he told his story, and I do that often. I see people in doing TED Talks, and I write him a message. Hey, you know, I love your TED Talk, Congratulation, I'm wondering if I can invite you to my podcast, and you know, so some say yes and some say no. The other one, the female bodyguard was someone doing a report about the bodyguard industry globally, and she was one of the head persons being interviewed by the CBC in London. So I say okay, I'm going to ask this person for an interview. But I'm gonna tell you my, my most precious secret. My most, most precious secret and I feel bad disclosing this. But I go into, into Amazon into the book section. And then I choose the category that I like the best. And then they have like a small, almost a den, a section that says, "coming up soon." Okay, so when you click on the coming up soon you get to see people who are planning to bring their books into market in 1, 2, 3, 4 months from now. These people because even no matter how famous they are, because, now, they want to-- they want to be-- they want to have bigger exposure to promote their book, they're willing to speak to practically anyone-- and I consider myself and no-one in the podcast industry, but these people that are encouraged by their publishing house to speak as to as many podcasters as possible because, when someone gets in my podcast, let's say I have an audience of 500 listeners per episode, okay, before an author will have to go to a bookstore, indigo I don't know, in downtown Toronto to speak to 20 or 30 people. Now, through my podcast, he gets to speak to 500 people while he's sitting in his living room in his pajamas. So for her, for sure-- and his publisher is encouraging to do this exactly this particular scene and he wants to-- I continue saying he but he/she wants to do the-- the same thing he wants. He/she wants to promote themselves as much as possible. And, and it's that moment in time when they are likely to say, "Yes, of course what time?"


Laura L. Bernhard

I love it. That's a good secret. Thank you for sharing that.


Alain Guillot

Maybe, edit that out, heh


Laura L. Bernhard

Okay, we'll discuss this after we'll see if you want to keep it.


Laura L. Bernhard

Okay, so before wrapping things up, I want to kind of, address your businesses again. And as things start to open again, do you think you're going to start opening your dance class classes again, your dance school?


Alain Guillot

Well, I, I don't know. Because one of my goals, for a long time was to be geographically independent and doing-- being able to do business over the internet allows me to do that. There's one thing in particular, you know, we just had that Canada Day yesterday. It was amazing. I love Canadian-- as any Canadian who was born here. But there's one thing that we don't like its winter. So


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah, I was gonna say I'm like, "it's the cold."


Alain Guillot

So I've been planning for a long time to have some kind of business that allows me to get away during the winter. And I can do SEO or website building from Costa Rica. And, and don't have to be here in January, for example. And this is so-- I still don't know but at the same time, like look, things are going normal here in Canada. I think we're a civilized society. But you know, there are many other countries that I guess in the midst of it, there are many countries considering our neighbors to the south who are having 50,000 new cases per day. And if you look at India and Africa, so-- so yes, we are getting over the curve, as they say scientifically, but you know, the scene is just getting started somewhere else. So I don't know how, how long it will be before we can have a regular lifestyle like we used to have last year.


Laura L. Bernhard

Yeah, I think that's gonna take a while too. And I like your idea of having a business where you can just do it from your home as well. And I think that's working really great for you. So congratulations on that.


Alain Guillot

Thank you so much for that.


Laura L. Bernhard

Awesome!


Laura L. Bernhard

And thank you so much for sharing your secrets with us today. And sharing your story about how you pivoted during the pandemic. So thank you very much, Alain.


Alain Guillot

Thank you for having me, Laura.



Join The No Formula Podcast Community


🎧 Where to listen and subscribe🎧

Subscribe on Spotify

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Subscribe on Google Podcasts


đź‘ŚWhere to followđź‘Ś

Join the Instagram community where I share behind the scenes of being a podcaster

Add me on LinkedIn so we can talk about everything business-related

Join the conversation on Twitter

Join the group on Facebook

Watch the episodes on YouTube

Get the episodes directly to your inbox, sign up to the Newsletter

0 views

2020 The No Formula Podcast