[quote style=”boxed”]One thing we do over and over is split test our marketing offers. We never know for sure what our visitors will respond to the most, though we have educated guesses. Often, our guesses are wrong.[/quote]
Joe Barton is the founder of Barton Publishing and other websites that promote natural health by teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies (like simple grocery store items, herbs, vitamins, exercises and more) instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs. Barton Publishing is built on the foundation of honesty, integrity and diligence. Each report Barton Publishing publishes goes through a thorough process of research, validation, writing, editing, rewriting, formatting and review before it is released. The company maintains relationships with its customers through email, updating them on health news related to their own health concerns.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, our team is working on an information product called 27 Natural Remedies for Weight Loss and Fitness, which will help people burn fat by using natural home remedies to stop sugar cravings. It will also help them understand how to maintain a lifestyle of healthy choices.
Where did the idea for Barton Publishing come from?
The idea for Barton Publishing started in 2004, when my mom told me about a little-known home remedy that helped her chiropractor dissolve his kidney stones using Coca-Cola and asparagus. Not many people knew about it, but it worked—so we developed an ebook that told people about it. Since then, it has helped thousands of people all over the world. We’ve built our business around finding the best natural home remedies and simplifying them into convenient ebooks that can be read instantly.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day has me waking up around 7:30 a.m., spending some time reading my Bible and eating a healthy breakfast. I then head downstairs to my “war room” office, which has two huge whiteboards where I can put down all my ideas and keep track of projects. I spend several hours per day responding to emails related to Barton Publishing. I try to spend more time working “on my business,” rather than “in my business,” and my core team of eight people has allowed me the freedom to do that.
We have a daily team call at 10:10 a.m., which lasts about 10-15 minutes and gets us all on the same page. The rest of the day is spent on random projects, ranging from overseeing new product development to marketing decisions and strategy. I exercise with a trainer at least twice per week, and my four boys keep me active with all sorts of miscellaneous adventures. I’m currently the assistant coach for my nine-year-old son’s football team, and we have practice every night. My wife and I also volunteer in the community and help with various ministry activities, like foster parenting and church camps.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by working on strategy worksheets that detail them out, and then I communicate my ideas to my team. They take the ideas and run with them. Sometimes, ideas will get tossed to the side, based on how much of a priority they are, but that’s part of an ongoing process of keeping the most important ideas at the forefront of our work.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that really excites me is the increasing demand for electronic books. We started marketing ebooks in 2003, before they were the preferred mode of delivery, so it’s been fun to see the market trend toward what we’re already doing. It is interesting that we still have a large percentage of customers purchasing hard copies of our products, in addition to ebooks. There is still value in having something you can hold in your hands and underline or make notes in with a pen!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was also one of the best jobs I ever had. It was my first job out of college, where I worked as a staff accountant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My boss was very demanding and didn’t cut me any slack. If I was one minute late for work, I got my butt chewed. If I made a mistake in my work, I had to make it right. I worked long hours during tax season, and I was paid very little. My starting salary was $19,000 per year, which was peanuts, even in 1997. But I learned a lot about accounting and business that I never learned in college, and I became a better person because of it. I ended up quitting/getting fired because I wore a Dockers shirt to work on a Friday, and my boss thought it looked unprofessional and sent me home to change. I told him he was a big jerk, and we parted ways.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently, because every situation and struggle I’ve been through has helped shape me into the person I am today. I believe in the sovereignty of God, and that all things work together for good, for those who follow Him.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing we do over and over is split test our marketing offers. We never know for sure what our visitors will respond to the most, though we have educated guesses. Often, our guesses are wrong. There are too many entrepreneurs who spend thousands or millions of dollars on ideas that they think are going to be smashing successes, only to find the market didn’t want their products or didn’t respond to their advertising efforts. Then, they give up. With my analytical mind, I try to work things backwards and test a variety of different offers; I let the customers tell me what they really want with their actions.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I highly recommend every business owner implement a daily meeting with his or her team. We started these three months ago, and it has radically improved our communication and our profitability. We start on a positive note by sharing what we’re excited about, both personally and professionally. We then share our agenda for the next 24 hours, followed by our daily metrics. We also ask if anyone is stuck or needs help with something. Then we end with prayer requests. Each of these components of the call is important and valuable.
Tell us a secret.
My weakness is chocolate chip cookies with cold milk—and my mom’s French silk pie!
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
- Google Docs is a great way to share documents, spreadsheets, and other information with our team.
- Gmail is, by far, the best email program ever.
- Jing is a video screenshot tool that allows me to share thoughts and ideas, or to give feedback to my team or others.
All of these tools are available in the cloud, so I can use them anywhere.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne C. Harnish. This book is where I got the idea for the daily meeting. They call it the daily huddle. The book is very practical, and the ideas shared are brilliant.
What’s on your playlist?
Anything from my favorite artists, including Michael Tyrrell, Gungor, U2, Van Halen, Skillet, Hillsong United and Firestarters Music.
If you weren’t working with Barton Publishing, what would you be doing?
I would probably still be working as a CPA, though that’s hard to imagine going back to now that I’ve owned my own business for nine years. If something happened to Barton Publishing, I would probably help other business owners grow their businesses. I’d also play more golf, read more books, and eventually start another business of my own to help people live healthfully.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud every day! I’m surrounded by four boys—aged eight, nine, 11, and 14—and they all are hilarious. My best buddy, Chris, also makes me laugh at least once a day. Last weekend, though, I laughed really hard for about five minutes in church! One of the guys did a rap song called “Everybody Dance,” and it was hilarious and inappropriate, all at the same time. The lyrics included a line that said, “Now Jesus is the word, yeah, haven’t you heard, or are you just sitting there being a turd?” It gets worse, but I can’t share that here!
Who is your hero?
No doubt about this one: Jesus Christ. Whoever lays down their lives for others is a hero in my book, and He did so to save all who simply believed in Him for eternal life. I wouldn’t exist without Him. I also highly respect all our soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others.
What is your philosophy on hiring, training, and keeping good people on your team?
My philosophy is to make sure you hire people who are smart and hard-working, have good track records, and most importantly, serve as a good fit for your team culture. If they’re not a good fit for your culture, it won’t matter how smart or hard-working they are, because they’ll cause problems in the chemistry of the team.
We train people by giving them a broad range of projects that show them all the different areas of the business. Almost everyone on our team is knowledgeable about our systems and processes because they are not limited to a narrow job description. People have specialty areas of focus, but if we get in a pinch, nearly everyone can help with anything.
As for keeping good people, we have a positive attitude and encourage outside-the-box thinking. We also do random fun activities, like team ski trips to the Black Hills or winter escapes to Scottsdale, Arizona. We also set big goals with big rewards. Our current goal is to go dune buggy racing in Baja, if we reach one more milestone related to our daily metrics. We also just finished a 60-day fat-loss challenge, and everyone lost a bunch of weight using natural remedies from the new product we’re developing. We have a team that treats everyone like friends and family, because we share personal things on our daily calls. Two of us on the team have mothers who are going through cancer treatments right now, so we help each other through thick and thin.
What do you want your personal legacy to be?
I hope that I’m remembered for being a kind, generous person who lived out my faith in Christ in a tangible way. I hope my life inspires others to dream bigger and trust God more and more each day. I hope people will remember me for building them up and encouraging them, instead of tearing them down. I hope people will remember me for never growing up and always acting like a little kid without a care in the world. I hope people will glorify God for how He used me to be a blessing to others by being a good steward of the resources He has blessed me with.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.