Ronsley is the Chief Food Sharer at Bond Appetit, a company that unites people over food.
He is the host of Australia’s #1 food podcast on iTunes and the author of the upcoming book “Bond Appetit – Uniting peak performers over food.”
Ronsley has been cooking for over 19 years. He has worked in a large kitchen as part of a brigade of chefs, as well as started and run his own fresh food restaurant specialising in uniquely flavoured food. He knows how hard the food industry makes it to stock and produce fresh food when the processed food comes pre-packed, pre-cut, pre-crumbed and sometimes, even pre-cooked.
To find out more about Bond Appetit click here
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Or you can read the entire transcript right here:
Ingrid: Hi, Ronsley. Thanks so much for joining us today on So You Want to Start a Business.
Ronsley: Thanks, Ingrid. Thank you so much for having me.
Ingrid: Yes, it’ll be great. So, my first question is, when did you start your business? And if you wouldn’t mind, maybe just tell everybody what your business actually is as well. So, when did you start and what is it?
Ronsley: Sure. So, I’ve got a few businesses but I want to talk primarily about Broadcast Your Message. Broadcast Your Message started in, I want to say September 2014. Now, I was and still am operating a different business during that period of time, but I started in 2014 and everything happened rather quickly.
Ingrid: And why did you start that particular business?
Ronsley: Funny enough, I had a whole bunch of people asking me that they wanted to create a podcast. And I said to a lot of people that I would actually just give them all the information I had because it was all in Evernote. And I had a few KPIs that came up and said, “No, we actually want you to coach us and take that information and translate that to our business.”
So, I used a weekend and created a new business.
Ingrid: Fantastic. So my next question is sort of like, when did you think the business was real? So, that almost sounds like the business was real before you started it because people wanted what you were offering.
Ronsley: Yes, I was trying to sort of stop myself from getting involved in another business, but since then I’ve got two more. I think the personality type… I’m just a shiny ball syndrome sort of person. But I think I learned a very valuable lesson earlier on in my business career, that you always look for the market first. So, when the market showed itself, I realized that I had to create a business.
Ingrid: So, one of the questions that I ask in this interview series is about how do you know your customers wanted what you were offering. And so, what you’re suggesting is that your customers were asking for something that they thought you could provide.
Ronsley: Yes, that’s what happened to Broadcast Your Message. It doesn’t happen all the time, but with Broadcast Your Message it was — I started a really successful podcast from nowhere. It just came out, like blindsided me, the success that it had, and everyone else around me as well. So because of that, everyone wanted to know how to get that kind of traction in the market. They were kind of asking the same questions, like, “How did you do it?”, “What should I do?”, “What needs to be done?”, “How does it become successful?”
So, when I had enough people asking, I decided, “Okay, let me reverse engineer what I did” and I sort of created a product around it.
Ingrid: So, what is that product now?
Ronsley: It is called Broadcast Your Message. It’s three different levels. There’s a broadcaster experience which is a monthly membership, and it goes through seven steps on teaching people how to broadcast their message through a podcast. There’s a green room experience which is kind of old theory of the seven steps, but we have coaching calls which we take that theory and apply it to your business in particular and how the podcast sort of benefits the business, otherwise what’s the point? And then there’s the red carpet experience which is the top of the line and that is basically — we have the conversations and we take those conversations away and create the podcasts for you. So, these are really for the high-achieving people who don’t have the time to sort of do it themselves.
Ingrid: To do it for themselves. So, this is a business that came from another business that you had. And so, have you thought about an exit strategy for this or have you thought about how long this business will last? Because one of the things that we see in business is people get started, and they’re not really quite sure where it’s going to go.
Ingrid: I don’t know what happened there.
Ronsley: Yes, it happens. Skype does that sometimes.
Ingrid: Yes. That’s the first time that’s happened to me. Well, I heard pretty much all of what you said, so we’re still recording.
Ronsley: Yes, cool.
Ingrid: Yes. So, my next question is, do you have an exit strategy from this business?
Ronsley: From Broadcast Your Message, no. I don’t have an exit strategy. I don’t, but I always build businesses with the intention that it will sell. So, everything around and the processes and everything around the way business is conducted is built in the sense that if something comes along and tickles my fancy I suppose, I can sell it.
Ingrid: Yes. So, generally, your exit strategy is build-to-sell. You’re creating an asset that is a sellable asset.
Ronsley: I think every businessperson, it doesn’t matter what you do, I think you should look to create whether you want to sell it or not. Always look at building the systems in a way that you’re building an asset.
Ingrid: Fantastic advice for people. Thanks for that, Ronsley. So, it doesn’t sound like this particular business was particularly capital or financially-intensive. But in general, how do you fund business to start? You know, you said you’ve created a number of businesses, what is your methodology or your thinking around how you fund your businesses?
Ronsley: Well, like I mentioned before, I think when you find the people that want your service, they fund it for you. As much as possible, as much as possible, you try and fund your business that way. That’s my opinion.
Ingrid: So when you say that, do you mean that the customers paid for things before you actually built them?
Ronsley: Absolutely. Always. Always, always. Always create the need or always create the market before you actually create the product. You could create … Let’s take my instance for example, I created the outline of the product before I actually created the product. I created the outline of the product and I showed all the potential people who wanted to sell a podcast, I showed them the outline of the product and said, “Well, I reversed engineered and I ran it pass through a number of high-end podcasters in the States, and we believe that this is the methodology to create a podcast that would benefit your business, increase your ROI and create connections with the relevant people.”
So, we know that these steps work. And when they were like, “Yes.” We said, “Alright. I’ll get my assistant to give you a call and arrange for the paperwork to go through”, and she did the paperwork, got the initial installment in, and as soon as all the initial installments were in, that’s when I started creating the product.
Ingrid: Fantastic. Fantastic model. Great business model. So, if we look at what you’ve learned along the way, so if you’ve had a number of businesses and you started businesses, what are some of the things that you wish you’d known from the start? So, things that you’ve had to do by trial and error, or if somebody could have said to you, “Here’s a piece of advice”, what’s one of those pieces of advice you wish you’d had?
Ronsley: I suppose every iteration is different. Every iteration comes with its set of bits and pieces that you should learn. My first business taught me not to take a second mortgage on my house. My second business taught me to always have a market before you create the product. My third business was Broadcast Your Message. And since then, I think I have learned that getting the right people around you is imperative as well. So, I think those are my four takeaways so far in my short business career.
Ingrid: So, when you say the right people around you, what are you talking about there? What sort of people?
Ronsley: Well, as an entrepreneur, you always look forward and your forward always usually is positive. And because of the way our schooling system, the way we teach our kids and the way we produce people these days, we actually produce people, we don’t — it’s the industrial age of education. So, there’s a very safety way of thinking about things. But when you have the right people around you, they can ask you the right questions which allow you to think differently if you have your head in the clouds. But if you have the wrong people around you, they’ll ask you, “Why are you stupid enough to not be safe and do something that is drastic?” So, always have the right people around you.
Ingrid: Always have such good advice, thank you. So, you’ve led me beautifully into my next question. In terms of those people around you and the people who ask the right questions, over the time — and you know, please don’t mention names if that’s not appropriate, but who are the some of the people who have inspired you or who have been of greatest assistance to you personally and to growing your business? What’s the roles that they’ve played? Sorry.
Ronsley: It’s funny sometimes, you have people that show up in your life and they tell you exactly what they need to tell you and then they just disappear. I suppose one of the characteristics or the traits that every entrepreneur should have is to be open to those bits of life happening to you, where you get the piece of advice that you really need at the time. But in terms of people, we were lucky. We went through the KPI program and there’s some brilliant, brilliant people within that program that not only pushed boundaries but pushed thinking capabilities. And I’ve been really lucky to sort of be friends with Glenn Carlson for example. He always, every single conversation, he pushes me to a point that I’ve never thought I could think. Andrew Griffiths, we chat on a regular basis and he constantly challenges me. David Duke, and he’s absolutely pivotal. To me, I suppose, moving outside my comfort zone and I’ve had brilliant mastermind groups — We’ve had the Batman group, which is an accountability group that was created at the start of KPI and we still meet every Tuesday. They have been absolutely awesome in keeping me accountable for what I said that I would for the week.
Having things like that in place, systems like that in place is really imperative, because there’s one thing where you look out the window and say, “I should mow the lawn.” And there’s another thing where you turn to your spouse and say, “You know Honey, I should mow the lawn.” The chances of the second one being done is quite high.
Ingrid: Because you’ve made the commitment to somebody.
Ronsley: That’s right, otherwise you’d never hear the end of it, right?
Ingrid: That’s right. So, a combination of people and a mastermind group that meets weekly. For some people, that might sound like an onerous task, but it might sound onerous to meet every week with a mastermind group. How do you find the time for something like that?
Ronsley: Some things are pivotal, some things you got to — I suppose people listening to understand that are really, really important. Accountability. The reason it’s every week is because if you meet fortnightly or you meet every month, it’s too long a time before you can pivot and change, before you can get a second opinion onboard. It is too long. And in terms of making time, I mean, a lot of people say they don’t have the time to exercise, but we know that we perform at our best when we exercise.
A lot of people say they don’t have time to cook or eat healthy food, but we know we perform at our peak when we get the right fuel into our body. So just like that, in my opinion, you don’t have to have big names, the big people around you, the people that have made a name for themselves, you don’t have to have that. But if you have a system in place where you meet on a weekly basis, a bunch of motivated entrepreneurs, it is not a difficult task to meet an hour a week.
Ingrid: Yes. And you know, the things is too with an hour a week, if you miss one, then it’s only next week before you meet again. If it’s fortnightly or monthly as you say, if you miss one, then it might be seven or eight weeks until you get the feedback or you get the accountability group’s contact. So, it can be quite… And that’s quite disruptive then, because a lot going to happen in six or seven weeks, bound to.
Ronsley: Yes, absolutely. And again, I think, come to think of it, I really — You asked me a question earlier, which I had done something — Again, I wish I had a mastermind group from the start of my business. It is, for me, by far, the most rewarding one, sometimes it goes for two hours but the most rewarding weekly time that I spend, where someone else looks at my business from a place of no judgment. They’re actually looking to help me and my business, and usually I’m always too closed to it. So, I’m usually like a hamster on a wheel and they go, “Wait a minute, did you look like there was another maze next to you?” You go and check that maze out. And then you come back the next week and say, “That was a brilliant advice. Thank you so much” because otherwise you’d be running on that wheel for God knows how long before you realize that you should’ve checked something else out.
Ingrid: And you know, that’s your diversion business if you like, your broadcast business came about, like that. “Go check out this maze.” Because people were saying to you, “Over here, we’ve got this great idea for you to create a business around some other skill that you were doing” that had absolutely nothing really to do with the original business, did it? It was just really part of the tools you were using for the original business.
Ronsley: No, that’s right. And I suppose I never gave myself enough credit for the things that I did before I got into food. I do have two masters’ degrees. I have a lot of experience in technology. So, when I did go through the podcasting journey, everything came so easily to me that I didn’t realize why it was coming easy to me. So, it became a lot easier for me to merge the businesses or have both businesses in food and technology. And now, I suppose it’s like… I’m so different from anyone else that people are asking me the same question all the time. “How do you have two businesses, in food and technology? They don’t even cross-over.”
Ingrid: They’re like the antithesis, aren’t they, of each other?
Ingrid: They are. So, Ronsley, if somebody came to you and said — someone, like you say, people go through school and they go and get jobs, and that’s kind of a path that people go along, and if one of those people came to you and said, “I’ve got this idea for a business, and I’m thinking about starting my own business”, what would you say to them?
Ronsley: I’d first ask them whether they knew the market. And usually, at the time of having a great idea of starting a business, everyone is just so very enthusiastic. And it’s great to be enthusiastic, it’s about taking that enthusiasm and channeling it into the right spaces. I would definitely ask them about the market. And if they say they didn’t have a market I’d be like, “How many of them have you actually spoken to?” And then I’d ask them to chat with them again, if they actually spoke to them, chat with them again and ask specific question. Just like what you’re doing right now; ask specific questions about what might their problems be, and whether my new business will solve them. Sometimes, the problems that they have, the business that I’m going to create might not solve them. And if you have enough people telling you of a certain problem, and you create a product or a business that doesn’t solve that problem, then you’ve missed the whole idea of entrepreneurship.
Ingrid: Yes, and it’s all about solving somebody’s problem.
Ronsley: That’s right. And then my next step would be to get a number of people around me that would help me do my best every day.
Ingrid: To get back to that thing that you wish you’d done differently.
Ingrid: So, thank you. Now, my last two questions, I’m sort of going to roll into one, but if you had to name the three key characteristics, and if we’re listening closely to what you said, I think we can hear some of those, but what would you say are the three key characteristics that helped you be successful across your businesses? And then these may or may not be the same thing, but what is critical for someone starting a business? What would say would be the characteristics that are critical? So, what are yours, and then what would you say somebody has to have?
Ronsley: Okay. I’ll start with mine. I think for me, my biggest asset was vulnerability. I say that because, in my opinion, I think that if I wasn’t vulnerable enough to be authentic with the people that I met and asked for help, or asked for an opinion, then I wouldn’t have gotten the opinions and the ideas that I’ve been getting and still continue to get on a regular basis. Resilience definitely has… I mean, every entrepreneur, every person I suppose will go through life with a bunch of problems. There’s no escaping that. You might as well go through a bunch of problems that you want to have.
And like that, you’re supposed to really be resilient when the chips are down. I have a story where I had people outside my house waiting to take the car away. So, you’ve got to go through those debts.
Ronsley: Yes, and it wasn’t long ago. And I suppose the third one is believing in yourself. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. I think for me, that is massive– I’m trying to roll both ends together, but I think you know deep down inside how capable you are. And you might get a lot of people that — not because they’re trying to be mean or nasty or anything, it’s because of their own insecurities and you got to look at it that way as well. Don’t let anyone put their fears onto you. Believe in yourself.
I think those three are really…
Ingrid: With that last one, Ronsley, did you grow up in a family where they were entrepreneurs? Did you have role models around you that you could see as you were growing up, or did you have people around you that really believed [inaudible 00:21:44] capable of doing?
Ronsley: Yes. I was lucky. I was very lucky. My dad was an entrepreneur and I watched my dad from when I was really young. I watched him go from washing dishes to building an empire, and it happened right in front of my eyes. I remember, my initial memories was us sleeping on the floor on a mattress. This was back in the Middle East where dad used to work. And from that to now, dad has got a house on the water with three sides water, that is like — And to see that evolution has been quite awesome. Even though dad had asked me, and dad said to me, “Why don’t you take over the business?” And I’m like, “No. I don’t want to. I just want a 9 to 5 job.” And it’s weird, because I said that and I didn’t know that I had the entrepreneur bug in me while I was at work every day.
Ingrid: So, at some point, the 9 to 5 just wasn’t working and you decided to ignite that entrepreneur bug.
Ronsley: Yes. I think, for me, I was sort of — within the 9 to 5 realm, I was progressing quite rapidly and they paid for my second Masters which is a business degree at QUT. And while I was going through that, I was looking at the world so differently that I couldn’t just go back on a regular basis and just do the same thing over and over again, and [inaudible 00:23:33] those things that I really wanted to do.
Ingrid: Which is why you had this multiple business model going on for you as well? Because even once you get a business working, you’re then looking for the next amazing thing. So, what characteristic is essential for someone starting up?
Ronsley: I think resilience definitely has to be one of them. I think being open to different possibilities will have to be number two, and number three… I wasn’t like this when I started, but I’ve gotten into a routine. And the idea of the routine is that you allow yourself to perform at your absolute best. So, having some sort of a routine at the start of your day, or having your calendar outlined for the whole day. All of that kind of stuff really helps with having a successful business in my opinion.
Ingrid: I love that line. ‘Allow yourself to perform at your absolute best’. That’s a very powerful statement. That’s quite a different way of looking at that, I would think.
Ronsley: Well, I think everyone has it in them. It’s about all the conditioning and all of the habits that we’ve gotten ourselves into that either distract us from performing or don’t allow us to get the results even when we think we are performing. So, we could be busy for ages, but we possibly wouldn’t get much done by just checking email for example. However, if you prioritize the things that you need to get done for you to get the most out of your day, then the chances of you succeeding…
Let me put this in a way that — what I do every morning. So, I have a journal that I write every morning. And in that, there’s the top three things that would make today a success. And I write those top three things and I don’t get out of my chair until I finish the number one thing on that list. And usually, by 6:30 in the morning, my day’s already been a success.
So, you build on that. And if you build on that, I suppose you remember, and you get and you’re grateful for these successes that you keep creating for yourself on a regular basis.
Ingrid: Inspiring, Ronsley, I must say. And you know, it’s interesting because I’ve been talking to a number of people like yourself who are entrepreneurs starting businesses, and there are some similar themes that go. But you’re one of the first people to actually talk about the importance of exercise and the importance of healthy food. I firmly believe in exercise. By 6:30, I have done something significant, exercise-wise, because without that my day wouldn’t particularly function. But I think a lot of people, they underestimate the power of just getting moving or doing some form` of exercise every day and eating really well in terms of business. And I know that wasn’t one of the questions that I was going to ask you, but you could just talk a little bit more about the importance of food and exercise for the entrepreneurial mind and entrepreneurship?
Ronsley: Sure. I think food is pivotal. It’s just like — there are these themes that I see around. We would rather buy a car and go insure it before we drive it out than insure ourselves. Very few people get insurance on their lives, which is weird because you’re the one that produces all the income for you and your family. So, if you don’t exist… I mean, not you alone, but you produce quite a lot, right?
But a car in comparison is nothing, and you just go ahead and insure the car. Similarly, we would rather put a 98 octane fuel into a car to get the best performance out of the car, but we drive that same car into a Maccas and eat a Happy Meal for example, and expect to get all of our stuff done in the day.
And, see, every entrepreneur is different but every entrepreneur is always looking to perform those tasks that involve critical thinking. They’re not going to a job that they push paperwork around. They really need to be thinking at a higher level. They need to be working at a higher level, and there’s no point in spending the time from six in the morning to six at night on your business if there’s five hours that are really unproductive. You might as well have a shorter day.
So, in that regard, I think we don’t realize how important the fuel that day is for us. Because even if you add a 10 minute meditation to your day and you eat right for the rest of your day, you could — I’m not saying you should — you could skip exercise. But if you exercised every single day but you ate badly, it’s like running a marathon with a backpack. It doesn’t serve you, because you’re eating so many times in the day that you’re creating this insulin spike, especially if you’re eating badly like processed bread, processed foods, Coke, Red Bull, all of this [inaudible 00:29:42].
All of those things that we decide when we feel that lull in the afternoon, we go and get ourselves a Red Bull, which is just as bad for you as anything else you’d consume… And again, it might give you a little spike of energy but it’ll crash immediately. So, understanding that when you want to perform, the fuel and the food that goes into your body is really, really important. I can’t stress it enough. It’ll keep you going for longer. It will make you more productive. I guarantee you would get back the hours that you put into creating the food if you do it at home. Or if you earn enough money, get someone else to do it. Actually, you can even get the service to deliver the fresh healthy food at home. Eat right.
Ingrid: And you know, it’s getting easier and easier for people to make those choices. The supermarkets are well behind some of their healthy food campaigns. We’ve got chefs showing us how to make simple ingredients and make them into great meals. Like you said, you can have boxes of really great healthy organic food delivered to your home. So, everything’s heading towards making it easier for us to do that, isn’t it?
Ronsley: Totally. Like I said, there’s so much information out there. It’s just about where do you put your energy. I mean, you could put your energy into your business every day, every single day, and then come out a year later saying, “I am so tired right now. I hate business. I hate my business. I’m just going to go back to work.” Or, you could learn from a whole bunch of people that are telling you how they do it, and learn from… I suppose stand on the shoulders of giants. Why wouldn’t you?
Ingrid: Why wouldn’t you. And Ronsley, that’s a lovely ending, I think, and that’s exactly why someone like you is so valuable to this series, So You Want to Start a Business, because people do want to start a business, but a lot of those people who don’t have role models who are trapped in a 9 to 5 job, thank you so much for your inspiration and information today, to help those people who might want to start a business.
Ronsley: Thank you so much, Ingrid. It’s been a very humbling to be on this show. You’re doing a great job. Thank you so much for thinking about me.
Ingrid: Thanks, Ronsley.
Ronsley is the Chief Food Sharer at Bond Appetit, a company that unites people over food.