How to Start an Online Coaching Business with Software Entrepreneur Coach Dan Martell Creator of SaaS Academy

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Learn how to start an online coaching business with software entrepreneur coach Dan Martell creator of SaaS Academy. Chris and Dan dive into how Chris first got involved with Dan’s SaaS Academy, and how course creators and really anyone in business online can validate their offer and sell premium services.

Chris shares how he first learned about Dan when he enrolled in SaaS Academy, and what led Chris to the sale to enroll in that program from Dan. One key aspect of the sale for Chris is that Dan had three successful companies along with some failures along the way, which is really important to look for in a business coach.

How to start an online coaching business with software entrepreneur coach Dan Martell creator of SaaS Academy

For the last four years, Dan has published a video on his YouTube channel every Monday where he would talk about business, and that eventually spiraled into his program called Elite Entrepreneur. Dan has worked with many situations selling programs in business, everything from selling a low-end digital course and workshops to live events with 400-500 people.

One concept Chris and Dan cover is the idea that, “The riches are in the niches.” Dan’s knowledge in business is extensive and can benefit all types of entrepreneurs, but he focuses on SaaS company owners because that allows him to create a highly in-depth program that is tailored to helping people who are struggling with specific problems.

Creating long-term programs is something Dan recommends for retaining great customers. Dan has worked with programs that are around 6 months long, and it is a struggle, because you have to keep enrolling people. But when you design programs that are built for a few years for the full journey, you really take the effective mindset of a guide and can build better relationships with your audience.

Building confidence in your programs online is something Dan speaks to in this episode as well. Many entrepreneurs feel like they’re one step away from imposter syndrome where they don’t value what they teach as highly as they should. Becoming more niche with what you offer allows for a more value-driven approach to building your programs.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dan and everything he’s got going on with SaaS Academy and his other programs, you can check out his YouTube channel with his great podcast Escape Velocity, Instagram content for behind the scenes on his life, TikTok for business, and Facebook for family and personal stuff.

At you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest. His name is Dan Martell. He’s my business coach. He’s the founder of something called SaaS Academy. And I know I say every episode, the guest is special, but this guy really is. And there’s a couple reasons why I joined Dan’s coaching community.

Chris Badgett: One is I just needed to join a new tribe, and hang out with other software entrepreneurs because I’m more of a rural country guy. And I found my tribe many times in life, and I just felt called to do that again. I love Dan’s story of humble beginnings, which if you want a good example of that story, head on over to Sherry Walling’s podcast, ZenFounder, and search for Dan Martell.

Chris Badgett: That’s actually how I first heard about you, Dan. I think that was about a year or two ago. So, that was where I entered your funnel as you might say, but really, the main reason that I chose to enroll in SaaS Academy has to do with the fact that Dan is what I call full stack. I was actually looking for a business coach for many years, and I was open to it, but if you know me, I don’t make fast decisions.

Chris Badgett: So, the full stack I’m talking about, there’s a lot of things in the stack, but the three most important are that Dan had three successful companies, not one. He also had some failures along the way, which is really important. So, this wasn’t a one-hit wonder or somebody on a lucky streak. He values health and fitness, which is really important to me. And he also values relationships.

Chris Badgett: So, friends, family, kids, spouse, and that full stack is really important to me because if you’re missing one leg of that stool, to me, I wouldn’t feel really supported or as inspired as I could be. So, Dan, welcome to the show. I’m really excited to get you in front of the course building, the membership site community, and the service professionals that serve that industry.

Dan Martell: Chris, it’s the pleasure, man. I appreciate the, I never heard all this, your decision tree for how we ended up working together. But as you say that, I guess I just assumed that everybody operates that way. You know what I mean? So, I appreciate it. It’s yeah, I think the bar for this industry, coaching specifically is definitely needs to be risen higher because I just think what I do is very normal, and I aspire to even more and yeah. And look, I’m not going to get into that, but yeah.

Chris Badgett: Well, we have a weird intersection a while back, which I want to talk about, which is just this dude named Brendon Burchard. I was just watching Brendon’s Experts Academy launch several years ago, I’m talking way his first launch. And I think that’s what actually inspired me to build my first WordPress site, which set me on a path.

Chris Badgett: But I know you interacted with him at some point or whatever. But what is the story of making the transition from world-class SaaS operator to I’m going to-

Dan Martell: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: … SaaS entrepreneurs?

Dan Martell: Yeah. Chris, your audio is kicking in and out. Let me just… for Chris here, I’m doing a podcast interview. Chris, do you hear me now?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, five by five.

Dan Martell: All right. I just had to reset my WiFi mesh. My story, I mean, the short version is I sold my last company, Clarity, in 2014, moved to San Francisco with the family to decompress. I think anybody that’s built a company, that was a venture-backed company, grew incredibly fast for two and a half years. You need a vacation, so we went down there for months.

Dan Martell: And while I was there, I was squatting at my buddy… every once a week, I would go in and do emails and stuff. I’m still very active as an angel investor, and my buddy, Chuck, had this corner in his office. He ran a company called Digital Telepathy. And he would let friends, he called it the Fockers, friends of Chuck’s, right? And we’d all work in this corner.

Dan Martell: And it was there that this guy introduced me, he recognized me, and heard of Clarity, and he was helping a bunch of authors, like health experts and whatnot do book launches. And he just says to me, he’s like, “Have you ever thought of writing a book. I just listened to your interviews, have you ever thought of doing videos or stuff like that?”

Dan Martell: And I just thought it was weird. At the time, I’d never think of doing that. Anyways, he just kept poking at me. Went out for lunch, he walked me through it. And I think anybody that’s ever had success is like Maslow’s hierarchy of impact. And once you have some level of success, then there’s significance, right?

Dan Martell: Now, I always derive my significance through the work I do with at risk youth, and my local community, and the charities I’m involved in, but I realized there was this larger community of entrepreneurs that I could probably serve it. And at that point, my two boys were, they would be eight months old, and they’re 11 months apart. So, eight months old and a year and a half or something like that.

Dan Martell: I thought, “Well, you know what, if I could shoot videos that were to teach my kids these life lessons, then that would be a really good use of my time.” So, funny enough, I asked friends if there was anybody, and then man, you just made me remember this. This guy, Pablo who I didn’t know at the time, opened up his office to let me shoot these first set of videos for my YouTube channel.

Dan Martell: And Pablo is now a friend of mine, but I didn’t know him then, but he knew of me. So, long story short, it started with my YouTube channel. I just shared everything I’ve learned about life, really, for my two boys. And then I ran out of stuff about life, and then I got into the business stuff. And then people just kept asking if I do consulting, or if I’d be involved in the business, and the answer was no.

Dan Martell: And I did that for probably a year and a half. And just to give context, I’ve now published a video on my YouTube channel every Monday for the last four years, and I haven’t missed a Monday, no matter what, like it’s locked and loaded, it happens. And that just spiraled things into the first time I ever launched a business program called the Elite Entrepreneur.

Dan Martell: So, the first thing I ever launched was a group coaching program for business people, entrepreneurs, there was no niching whatsoever. And I did it for six months, and I was literally an MBA. I just taught them everything I knew about scaling, growing businesses, and everything, even personal finance.

Dan Martell: And I mean, it was pretty much like I sat down, and just dumped everything in my brain around what I’ve learned reading over 1,000 books, having mentors. Brendon was actually after that period, I actually got introduced to Brendon through my friend, [inaudible 00:07:44]. And he brought me to this 10xEMPIRE, I think it was.

Dan Martell: And seeing the way he delivered his training made me realize that I could actually lean into that without feeling like I have to come across with the fancy watch. No watch, don’t wear a watch. I do drive a McLaren so I do have a fancy car. But it’s very rare you’ll see me post anything on social media about it because it’s nobody else’s business.

Dan Martell: And I just wanted my ideas to be the thing that people were attracted to, and seeing the way Brendon did that really inspired me, and he’s become a mentor over the years, and many other people. But yeah, that’s the first thing. So, I don’t know how long, but I mean, that’s where it started for three and a half years ago, four years ago with the lead entrepreneur.

Chris Badgett: Well, let’s look at the offer at SaaS Academy right now, and there’s other stuff surrounding that, but what is your perfect intro?

Dan Martell: My perfect intro?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Dan Martell: Well, it depends if somebody in the software space, I’ll say SaaS, but let’s say I help software entrepreneurs scale their business. That’s my perfect intro.

Chris Badgett: And as you develop your coaching offering, you have three segments in there. And I didn’t even realize there were two other ones because I was a perfect fit for the middle one. But talk about that, what are the segments, and how did that arise as I’m going to create these buckets?

Dan Martell: Well, I will say it took me two years. I mean SaaS Academy is only three years and maybe two months old, and I know that because we’re now renewing your three members into the program. And that’s been the last couple months, but I struggled with it. So, I’m the kind of guy that when I get into business, I get nerdy about it, and I get deep. So, I tried everything, okay?

Dan Martell: So, you want to talk about low-end digital course, got that. You want to talk about $2,000 launch, did that. You want to talk about workshops, did that. Big live events, 400 or 500 people, did that. Jayvees, did it, part like you name it, I’ve dipped my toes in it, right? The only thing I’ve never done is like a $7 eBook. Personally, I just couldn’t get behind that one. I’d rather just give stuff away for free.

Dan Martell: Good idea though, I get the concept. But it was literally probably a year and a half into doing a lead on. So, I did six months, and I did another six months, and then I got frustrated because I get to have to kept reenrolling people every six months, and I really like working with them. So, that didn’t make any sense so I changed it to a year.

Dan Martell: And it was half or it was towards the end of that program that I was talking to my buddy, Todd Herman, which a lot of people know that watch this, he’s now become an incredible dude online, and author. And anyways, Todd is the one I was calling because I’m a big fan of getting advice from people who’ve been there before.

Dan Martell: You’ve mentioned that in regards to what you were looking for in a coach. And Todd, I remember distinctly, I was in San Francisco because we pretty much go there every winter, walking around the backyard, and he goes, “Why are you stepping over dollars to pick up pennies?” And so, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Why are you coaching business people?”

Dan Martell: And I go, “I love it. I love Entrepreneurship.” He goes, “Yeah. But you’re the only person I know, Dan, that could legitimately coach software entrepreneurs. And there’s a lot of software entrepreneurs, and you’ve done it three times. And you’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and you exit,” you know what I mean? And he’s going through this, and he’s like, “Why are you doing all?”

Dan Martell: Because at that point, I had agency entrepreneurs, sign company, manufacturing [inaudible] matter. Literally, I love business. Chris, I’m just a nerd when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. And I thought to myself, because one question I like to ask myself is… and I got this from Dean Jackson. Yeah, Dean said this. He said, “What would you do or how would you structure your business if you only got paid if the customer got a result?”

Dan Martell: So, what would you offer if you only got paid at the end if they got the result? And that was a ring in my ear. At the same time, Todd is talking to me about software. And I just realized it was obvious. It was even called SaaS Academy at first. It was just a decision to say, next enrollment of this thing will only serve software entrepreneurs. And I pretty much canceled that program.

Dan Martell: This thing was at the point like a million and a half revenue business, shut it down, created the new thing, didn’t even have a name for it. I think at first, I called it like creators or something like that. It wasn’t called SaaS Academy. You know where the name came on, Chris? Everybody kept asking me what it was. And I kept saying, “Well, it’s like a SaaS Academy.” And then they would call it that. Yeah.

Dan Martell: So, then I was like, “Well, why am I fighting,” because I was trying to come with this cooler name or something. And that’s what happened is, I literally, so I’m going to find 12 SaaS founders that want to invest at that level for SaaS Academy, restructured the whole program, added three live events, do it like I do today, and just really redesign the whole thing to make it work.

Dan Martell: And I did that for probably a year and a half, and then from that, then I launched JFDI, which is my hiring program for entrepreneurs that are at $10 million plus. So, it’s definitely a different caliber, the investment is a lot higher. And it’s smaller. It’s a boardroom. We go visit SaaS companies, we go on site, I bring in CEOs like HubSpot, Twilio, Wistia.

Dan Martell: You name the SaaS product you use those are the level of founders that I bring in in-person to talk with my entrepreneurs in that program. And then probably two years into it, we launched the online accelerator, the growth accelerator. I’m just live streaming these other places I’m pointing there.

Dan Martell: But that program was really to help folks that were pre revenue, yes, but definitely focused on at least $1,000 in revenue trying to get to 10K a month in MRR, monthly recurring revenue because there was a broader audience I wanted to serve. But the cool part is, is I tell this to everybody, literally, I give away 98% of everything I know for free. It’s all on my YouTube channel.

Dan Martell: It’s there, 400 videos probably at this point, you can go consume it and go nuts. I’ve had people send me photos of their apartments filled with just sticky notes of diagrams, and every day bench watch all my videos for three or four days, and then designed their little world. So yeah, I don’t know. I could talk forever, as you know. So, those are my three programs and how they came to be.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, let’s talk about premium pricing real quickly. I mean, I’m in the SaaS Academy, the middle one, I take it very seriously, I would anyways, but it has a premium price tag. And I also know that you have a world-class team, and you deliver world-class experience so it’s worth every penny.

Chris Badgett: But just tell me your philosophy around premium pricing, if there’s another coach out there and they’re like, “I don’t know what to charge?” Or maybe I have issues around what people will pay or whatever. How do you think about premium pricing?

Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, the reality of most people, this is SaaS too, right, is most people don’t charge to the value that they create. Okay. So, that’s nothing about my world, right? It’s literally every service professional out there undervalues the value they create for the world. So, there’s that, and that’s 100% reflected, just their own mindset, and mental scripts, and internal beliefs, et cetera, et cetera, right?

Dan Martell: Many entrepreneurs unfortunately, feel that they’re one step away from imposter syndrome, right? Or they’re literally worried that somehow somebody is going to discover that they actually don’t know. So, it’s even more pronounced when you start coaching or training because… and remember, this is the hardest thing for me to overcome.

Dan Martell: When I was building software companies, that was easy because if somebody said I don’t like the product, they weren’t saying I don’t like Dan. They were saying I don’t like the product. You know what I mean? But as soon as the product is you, it’s your ideas, it’s your packaging, and somebody says, I’m not going to buy, or I’m not going to coach with you, or I’m not going to buy your training, and all of a sudden, it feels like a personal attack, right?

Dan Martell: So, even because of that, pricing is even harder to accomplish. But what I would say is, I definitely had support from really smart friends, people have been there before, to give me some guidance. I also know that through my experience in pricing that the money should go so niches are in the riches or riches are in the niches, right.

Dan Martell: So, when I was broader and entrepreneurial, the price point was lower, and honestly, because I couldn’t go as deep as I wanted to on the specific implementations of strategies, right? So, there’s a very unique and specific implementation of a trial process for a SaaS than a retail customer experience for example, right? So, I know that the more niche I went, the higher price point.

Dan Martell: And I also just took the approach of personally, I’m lucky I didn’t have to do it for the money. Coaching for me as you know, I have a whole team reinvested in the process, into the frameworks, the coaches that I pay to bring in, I mean, the events we do, et cetera. So, it was never an economic thing that I needed it to support my lifestyle. So, I always just start here, and I’ll just keep putting the prices up.

Dan Martell: Even since you enrolled, I definitely know the investment has gone up, and we just keep putting it up because it makes me smile to know that the people that were in early, and believe they’re early, and were willing to take some risks, if you stay on the market, they should get the best price, right? So, yeah, pretty much every new person is always going to pay the most, and I just think people go in and consider putting their prices up, right?

Dan Martell: So, that’s just the way I’ve always approached it. And also ask yourself, I think from a packaging point in regards to how do you create a premium product is just ask yourself what’s required for your clients to get results in regards to, let’s call the first 100 days, right? It’s a framework that I teach, I got it from my buddy, Joey Coleman, he wrote the book, Never Lose a Customer, I teach it in SaaS Academy.

Dan Martell: But if you could say in the first 100 days, we want to get our clients to ROI positive on their full investment for the year in the first 100 days, we say nine because 100 is easier to understand, but nine days. Then that way, the rest of the year is gravy. If that was the focus, how would you have to structure it? What would be the onboarding process, the check-ins, the accountability, the specific trainings, and templates you would give them, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera?

Dan Martell: And I just think that people that aren’t able or feel like they’re not capable of charging a premium, it’s because they don’t believe in their product enough. And that’s real talk because they… essentially, and I teach this, I love that you’ve been in a lot of my sessions. The first sale that’s ever made is to the entrepreneur themselves about what they’re selling.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely.

Dan Martell: And I think, yeah, and sometimes that’s not the case. They’re not sold on what they’re selling, and that’s why they don’t feel confident about the price they’re asking.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s amazing. Well, let’s get into the mix a little bit, the actual what’s in the coaching offer in terms of the stack? So, there’s video training content. You’ve got worksheets, notes, group coaching, expert coaching, three live events, how did you assemble the support mechanisms that surround a SaaS entrepreneur with the support they need to learn and grow?

Dan Martell: Well, I mean, I just build stuff for myself. And look again, Chris, it’s easy to look at what is today, and make inferences about what it was when I started. But when it first started, it didn’t really look like it was… I think when we first started, there was definitely three events. There was one training per month, and one group coaching per month, and it’s in the Facebook group.

Dan Martell: So, the trainings, I mean, there’s over 260 playbooks. And so, just the library people come into now is just so much more robust and developed. We now have strategic coaches. So, we have two dedicated strategic coaches. We have what we call tactical coaches, these are like Ben, our CFO coach, who’s run 150 million ARR SaaS company as the CFO.

Dan Martell: Etienne, top CTO coach out there. He’s exited his last company as a CTO. I mean, just like high caliber coaches. We do the three live events, but I mean, Chris, even the live events, we have this rule that it’s one of our core values, 1% better, right, every time, so we always do these upgrades. Every time we do a training, we do a live event.

Dan Martell: Afterwards, we do a debrief, and we ask ourselves, what are the two to three upgrades we’re going to bring into the next event table seat, right? So, assign seating at a live event. I don’t know any other organization that is willing to do that level of assignment. But Kelsey spends on my team.

Dan Martell: She spends probably 12 hours an event trying to coordinate the table for each day to two days, and make sure that people sit at tables where they’re going to be around, A, people are not competitive and B, people that are at their level, but that sometimes even at their company type like the go-to-market SMB versus mid-market versus enterprise.

Dan Martell: So, I mean, just like the way I’ve seen the program evolve, it makes me smile because it’s way better than I ever could have imagined. But in the early days, I just created a program for myself. What would I need? Now, we’re doing these digital breakout sessions, masterminds, I think we call them, skill sessions.

Dan Martell: And some of our roundtables where we use the breakout rooms in Zoom virtually to deliver the same quality of collaboration and connection even throughout the year when we’re not doing the three events. And if anything, the thing that I’m most concerned of, Chris, is not overwhelming clients, especially new ones that come in, and it just feels like there’s so much, and they feel guilty if they’re not plugging into everything.

Dan Martell: So, in our kickoff calls, being very clear to let them know that this is a buffet, but we’re going to design for you what you need for the first 100 days to get those results, and then we’re going to reset your plan every quarter. If you feel compelled to join, fine, but know that you’re not asked to, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t have time to consume because that’s not why we create those sessions, right?

Dan Martell: But if you want it, there’s something every week now. So yeah, so the way I think about it is content community and coaching. Ask me how I thought through that is I always think that people, they come for the content, they want results. Usually, some free content first, and then they come in, and say, “What else you got?”

Dan Martell: And then they win because of the coaching, right? The very contextual specific understanding of the person’s position, and here’s the way to move forward, and get clarity, and confidence to make those decisions. And then the third is community. So, obviously, they stay because of the community, right?

Dan Martell: Chris, I think SaaS Academy has to be the best group, and it’s not tooted my own horn because I have no impact to… I don’t create this, people like yourself do. But the community of SaaS founders in SaaS Academy is inspiring even to me. I mean, I didn’t have this growing up. I didn’t have this building my own companies. I might have had seven friends that built up companies.

Dan Martell: Not even, when I built my first software company, I might had one or two. So, being able to come into a room of all the founders in the room on the same level, and share really personal things around struggles, and situations to look for solutions. I think that’s one of my favorite parts of it. That I know for me, because I’m a bit of an extrovert that I enjoy seeing people plug into it and take advantage of.

Chris Badgett: Well, a couple of quick things is you definitely do a great job with the table seating, and all that, and I mean, there’re relationships. There’re people that I connect with that I’ve met through your program, that’s a value in it of itself. And in terms of the buffet, when I got over the wall, I was actually relieved because you’re so good at sales and marketing.

Chris Badgett: I’m like, “Oh sweet.” It is legit, all this stuff is here. I was like, “This buffet is legit.” But it wasn’t always was concerned. I was like the sales and marketing is so good. I better deliver on the other side and holy cow, does it and yeah, it’s awesome. It’s a great buffet.

Chris Badgett: Shifting gears into the client and the actual coaching process. How do you maintain healthy boundaries as a coach? Because if you deal with people who are in a peak performance situation, or they’re struggling, or we’re in hard times, when you’re leading from the front and from the back, how do you maintain healthy boundaries between you and other people?

Dan Martell: It’s still a moving line for me, right? I think the last event was really… it was probably the hardest one just because again, I want to be in the crowd and hanging out. But at the same time, what’s happening is there’s so much going on, my team needs me. So, even on breaks, if I don’t actually go back to the green room, and chat with the team about the next session.

Dan Martell: We have a speaker and at lunch, you have this, and we’re doing new person lunch, and tonight’s founder’s dinner because I organize these freaking huge founder dinners, which are crazy. I mean, we pretty much have to take over restaurants. And now, we’re thinking of having to break it up into two restaurants. So, that’s been fascinating.

Dan Martell: I think the harder part for a lot of people that are maybe not at that scale yet is just like setting the expectations, and creating the boundaries. Even delivering the program, right? So, the hardest part is, is I think you teach people how to treat you. So, I got that. I forget who said it. I think it might have been even Oprah of all people. Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil said it. You teach people how to treat you.

Dan Martell: He was obviously speaking in context of personal boundaries. But the way I think about it is so for example, somebody enrolls in the program, and then they email me directly asking questions. I’ll actually not reply, tag my assistant, and I don’t see these anymore anyway, but back in the old days, my assistant would reply, and let them know because you’re a client of Dan’s, you actually have access to the Facebook group.

Dan Martell: All questions are being posted here. So, it’s really just, if it comes in here, redirect it there, and do that from the beginning. Because if you don’t, then people… and they just don’t know how to connect with you. And if you’ve done it in the past, and you stopped doing it, it feels bad. You know what I mean? Chris, if you used to answer my emails, but now you’re saying, I’m not answering your emails, it’s like, “Well, that’s weird because you used to,” right?

Dan Martell: So, my whole thing is, and just from a service level agreement, just from a response point of view, I want to be responsive. So, that’s why we created, and I’m not going to say it publicly, but we have that email address that you know of. That goes to me in the team. That’s only for my clients. And I read every email that goes in there even though I don’t reply to all of them.

Dan Martell: But I do reply to quite a few because I’m part of the group that we get measured every week, like I teach my clients. And we push people there, or we’ll push them to the Facebook group to ask the question publicly. But if somebody sends me a Facebook message, I don’t reply there. I say, “Hey, appreciate you reaching out here, this is,” and I’ll make… my assistant will do it.

Dan Martell: “This is Dan’s assistant, could you please,” and it’s funny how you just have to do that once or twice, and it teaches people how to get back in the lane. And that to me is how we create our boundaries, right? Because honestly, the only thing that you have as a coach is your time, and that to me, the way it was explained to me through my buddy, [inaudible 00:28:42].

Dan Martell: And honestly, many, many other founders have talked about this or coaches, is the people paying a premium, the high end. My JFDI clients, they get one-on-one time with me. Yesterday, I spent pretty much the afternoon doing one-on-one strategic reviews on their Q2 plan, right? And I got to honor that because that’s what they invested in.

Dan Martell: And if I’m not creating boundaries for other programs, then why are they at that level if it’s available to everybody? And if I’m picking and choosing, that’s not fair to the other people in the program either. So, it’s been hard because I love to talk to everybody. But at scale, I think you just… luckily, the way I do it today is I have the team tell me what I’m allowed and not allowed to do.

Dan Martell: I say, “Treat me like the talent. I’m at your disposal. And if you catch me doing something like replying to somebody on Facebook Messenger that I shouldn’t have, you have permission to slap me in the hands and set me straight.”

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Super helpful. I have a bunch more questions for you. So, let’s go into more of a lightning round style. Marketing for you as a coach, what’s the number one tool you use for top of the funnel? Would you say it’s YouTube, video marketing or what, relationships, what?

Dan Martell: No, it’s 50/50 YouTube, and paid ads, Facebook.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What can coach entrepreneurs like subject matter experts learn from SaaS entrepreneurs?

Dan Martell: Reoccurring revenue. So, most coaches don’t create evergreen programs. So, that’s the two problems. They don’t create long-term programs, multiyear programs, and they don’t create evergreen programs. So, SaaS Academy is a three-year program with a one-year commitment. We do have people going into year four. So, it doesn’t have to stop at three. It all depends on your structure, but I think the reoccurring component of it is really key, and long term.

Chris Badgett: That’s cool. One thing I’ve noticed about you, I share this personality quality, is I’m a super learner, I’ve read thousands of books. I just realized I’ve listened to 10,000 podcasts. I was doing the math the other day. How do you integrate all this data coming in, all this business knowledge when you’re standing on the shoulders of giants into action in a consistent way because you love learning?

Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, I read 10 pages minimum every day, often more. What I do is I just have a process. So, I have a process of Evernote for online stuff, my Kindle for my book stuff, and I think the Kindle sucks for the highlight ability, but at least I know what books or context. And then what happens is I create the outline and curriculum for the year. So, I’ll start, I’ve got a Google Doc that’s got all the trainings, and all the sessions, and the live events.

Dan Martell: And I’ll start plugging resources into each one of those sections that I want to revisit when I get there. And that’s how I pull in some of the old stuff, but I don’t wait until I’m doing it. If I’m inspired, I’m like, “Oh, don’t forget to look at that book.” When you do that training, I’ll just go and add a little note there. So, that’s how I do it.

Chris Badgett: As a coach, what would be that your first, second, and third hire to build a team? And I know everybody’s situation is different, but what would you say?

Dan Martell: No. First hire is an assistant. So, you pretty much need somebody to support you doing the $10 task. So, that’s like editing your podcast, to reply to emails, booking your travel, et cetera, et cetera. The way I look at it and I teach this is, is you just got to buy back your time, right? Yeah. If you can’t find an assistant, you can find one part time, there’s a great site that I’m involved in called

Dan Martell: So, you can check out Delegated, but there’s many other virtual assistant services. The second hire I would say is somebody on the marketing side. I think most coaches are probably missing that component. They need somebody that… because it’s weird selling yourself, and dude, it took me two years just to even admit I was a coach, right?

Dan Martell: I was like, “I’m not a coach. I have this thing called SaaS Academy, but all my clients called me their coach in their blog post in podcast interview.” So, now, if you go on all my social media profiles, my marketing team is made me update it and it says, “Coach to SaaS founders.” So, I would say a marketing person, and then third, I would say, that one’s difficult for me to say, but probably somebody on the project management side, right?

Dan Martell: So, your assistant should be taking care of you, your marketing should make sure your message gets out to the masses. And then your project manager should be operating all your contractors you might have at that point, and the commitments you’ve made to a client. Maybe they’re on the live sessions with you listening in case you say like, “Hey, I’ll send you guys all this email with this stuff,” which I do all the time.

Dan Martell: So, that’s why I always have somebody listen in to my training sessions, so I can honor that because I think that’s the worst thing you could do is say it and then forget to do it. Yeah. Those are probably the three in a row I would hire.

Chris Badgett: What do you look for in your program in addition to an entrepreneur being in market or in the right niche, soft software entrepreneur? What qualities in a human being do you look for that makes a great client?

Dan Martell: Oh, we have a very strict value stuff. So, some of them, and I’ve been meaning to do this. I had a client recently where I fired, and I haven’t done a public hanging essentially in the Facebook group. Don’t act like Joe kind of thing. His name wasn’t Joe, but the idea is we have a very… so in our world, our core customer is called software scaling Sam or Samantha, right?

Dan Martell: So, we know how many kids they have, we know what car they drive, we know where they buy their groceries, we know literally whatever you want to call it, ICP, core customer, perfect fit customer, et cetera, et cetera, avatar. And our enrollment specialists or scale specialists have to have filter, specifically for SaaS Academy because that’s where there’s the risk of somebody being sat next to somebody that is a horrible person, okay?

Dan Martell: Now, I assume positive intent of everybody, but there’s always chances that not a nice person ends up in a room, and that could create a very bad experience from other customers, and that scares me more than anything. So yes, they’re doing value checks. They’re asking them questions about is there any other charities that you’re involved in?

Dan Martell: Did you have a mentor that’s gotten you to this point, et cetera? I want to hear those stories. Are they somebody that’s generous? Are they somebody that values contribution? Are they driven? Are they ambitious, right? Because those are things I can’t coach to, you either come to me with that inkling, and I can support it. I only win if my clients win, and I want to stack the odds in my favor, and I’m very selective as to who I work with.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. If you’re helping software scaling Sam or Samantha develop a high-performance mindset, what’s that journey like? What do they need to get to expand their ability to perform as a software entrepreneur? I’m talking about inner game, inner game.

Dan Martell: Yeah. This is all inner game. Number one is clarity. I think most people don’t know what they want. And that’s one of the first things we do in our strategic game plan sessions in SaaS Academy is get real clear on the next 12 months in the next three years, right? The why, right? Not just like the tactical specific things, but why does this matter to you?

Dan Martell: Why are you the person that’s going to solve this problem? What’s the wrong in the world you want to right, et cetera, right? To me, clarity, it all starts with clarity. And then the second thing is confidence, right? So, how do we structure your day and your projects so that you can build confidence? Okay. So, to me, I think I got this from Brendon. It’s the confidence competence loop.

Dan Martell: So, the risk for a lot of other coaches is they don’t think of the customer and say, “Hey, I got to get this person some quick wins, to build their confidence, to build their trust in my approach, to then be able to give them things that might be a little bit more… definitely more impactful, but harder to do. Let’s not start there.” So, I’m a big fan of building their confidence, and then the third thing is courage.

Dan Martell: Chris, that’s why I’ve been doing these mindset videos in the morning to just hopefully agitate people into being courageous even in the face of uncertainty because that’s the reality of where we’re at right now is, there’s so much uncertainty. It’s hard to be courageous. It’s hard to have blind faith. It’s hard to jump off the cliff when you can’t even see the ground, to build that plane in midflight, or change the engine out in mid-flight, and trust that you’re not going to crash, right?

Dan Martell: So, to me, those are the three things that specifically when I get my JFDI clients, that’s where it’s a lot more mindset. SaaS Academy, yes, there’s mindset because you’re an entrepreneur, but a lot of this stuff is missing tactical, lead gen, so track, convert, expand scale is my model. But when you get into the north of $6 million ARR, for the founder, it’s not about implementation and tactics anymore.

Dan Martell: It’s about sequencing, and it’s about those three Cs to help them play a bigger game, right? Because it’s really, the business is so much a reflection of who they are as a person, that investing in themselves is going to have the biggest impact to their business.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. And just so you know, I’m walking my dogs in the morning when I listen to your mindset stuff. Right after you go, I go inside my Facebook group. And like you said, panic is contagious, but so is leadership. So, I wanted to honor you for that. I have two more questions for you, Dan. What is the role of an entrepreneur in society during crisis times?

Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, the reality of it is that entrepreneurs, I mean, as far as I can tell, they’re the only… an entrepreneurial mindset, right? So, I think the people that create charities, et cetera are still in the same vein, but anybody that creates creators, they’re the problem solvers of the world, right? They’re the ones that can take just a pile of crap and turn it into something useful.

Dan Martell: And I just think, especially when the world is dealing with crisis, that it’s our responsibility as entrepreneurs to figure out how we can leverage our know-how, and our tools, and our belief systems, right? Because we approach, we have a different filter for how we see the world, and connecting dots that I think is just it’s required more than ever to be the person that can do that.

Dan Martell: Somebody said it actually today in the group in response to my analogy of taking the turn in a track, he says, “If you want to go fast, straight roads make for fast cars, turns make for fast drivers,” right? So, I think everybody felt good about their skills when things were good and the road was straight.

Dan Martell: Now that things are crazy and uncertain et cetera, the entrepreneurs are the ones that are able to take the swings of the economy, and the craziness of the world we’re living in right now. And get through that faster ahead of everybody to be able to show them the way. So, I just think that entrepreneurs’ responsibility right now is, is to lean in both through their business and also through their just know-how in their community to help out.

Dan Martell: Because I’ll tell you, if you follow me online, you’ve seen some of the stuff that I’ve done locally in my community. It otherwise wouldn’t have happened, and it’s not because of me and being special. It’s just because the way we think of solving problems is different than government organizations per se, right? We don’t think in limitations.

Dan Martell: Their first thought is why they can’t do it. It’s really interesting. Problem, we go yeah, 14 ways to solve it. They, problem, 14 reasons we can’t do it, right? And it’s just fascinating. So, I think it’s our responsibility as entrepreneurs to lean in and help more in our communities more now so than ever.

Chris Badgett: That’s amazing. Last question for you. You have a concept called R&D, which stands for Rob & Duplicate, which if you’re a super learner means you’re always seeing stuff that other people are doing that you can model. You have a great podcast called Escape Velocity.

Chris Badgett: I’d really encourage you that’s listening to go watch the interview with Tobi from Shopify, I thought it was particularly good. But at the end of your podcast, you ask a question I’m going to ask you, which is who did you need to become to make the transition from subject matter expert to coach of subject matter expert?

Dan Martell: Wow, nice work, Chris. Nice work. I needed to become comfortable having people see me in the light of mentor and coach. I didn’t feel comfortable with that for a long time because I don’t think I wanted the responsibility that comes along with that. The worry that, like, what if I give them the wrong advice? What if they go down this path and their business falls apart, et cetera, et cetera?

Dan Martell: I just wanted to hide and say, “Here’s what worked for me. Try it out if you want.” But unfortunately, that’s just not how the world works. If you also want to have the impact you want, you need to not only own up to that responsibility, but also be willing to bear that burden. And the good news is if you’re giving them insight into something they otherwise had no insight into, it’s very rare that they’re going to have a catastrophic failure because of your advice.

Dan Martell: But I am careful, those moments, I’m not a lawyer, so verify with your own legal counsel kind of thing. But that was probably the biggest thing of who I needed to become. I had to become okay with being seen in society. That’s the other thing, just the perception of coaches. It’s like real estate agents, and social media experts. There’s a handful that are great, and then there’s a whole bunch of them that are charlatans.

Dan Martell: And I was worried that personally, people would look down on me for making that decision. And honestly, that was probably the bigger reason why I held off so long communicating that, but it also meant that I had people following me for five years, and didn’t even know I had a coaching program. I’m guaranteed people are going to listen to this and go, “I know Dan, I didn’t even know he had, what’s SaaS Academy? How does this work?”

Dan Martell: So, as much as even I think I’m shining my light and living my truth, I still know I could be doing more. And it’s just because we have a blueprint called give in public ask in private. So, unlike some people out there, I don’t lead with going to sell you something. I’m very much, you got to get into my world before you even find out about it, kind of thing.

Chris Badgett: That was amazing. Dan Martell, thank you for coming on the show and inspiring the people out there. He’s from SaaS Academy. Go subscribe to his YouTube channel. I’ve learned a ton there. Also, two podcasts, I believe, Escape Velocity and a SaaS growth hacking podcast. And anywhere else the people can connect with you or final words for the people?

Dan Martell: Yeah. So, Instagram stories. If you want to see the behind the scenes of my life, TikTok if you want to just get on TikTok and see how some of these TikTok for business. And then I would say Facebook, more on the family personal stuff. But yeah, I try to use every platform differently.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Dan. We really appreciate it.

Dan Martell: Appreciate you, Chris. Thanks for the time.

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to and get the best gear for your course creator journey.

Chris Badgett: Let’s build the most engaging, results-getting courses on the internet.

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