Veteran Finds Renewed Vigor and Focus as a Solopreneur
After 8 years of service in the British Army, David Gibson was given 2 weeks notice, and then he had to be out of the Army. As you can imagine, he hadn’t really planned for that. David was in shock, and struggled to adapt to the civilian way of life.
Fast forward three years… David runs an online business with major growth potential. His business has given him renewed self-belief, focus and a level of freedom he had never experienced before.
We talked to David about his career change from lieutenant to solopreneur (you can watch the full video interview at the end of this article).
Some of the highlights you’ll hear about…
- How David uses his niche knowledge to jump ahead of the competition
- Why he believes that SBI! is perfect for helping veterans adapt more easily to civilian life
- What SBI!’s Action Guide and the military principle of a “Unifying Purpose” have in common
- How building his online business has helped him regain confidence and a sense of freedom
1. Your website, goldvu.com, is in a rather unusual niche for a solopreneur. Can you please explain what your business is all about and how you got into that niche?
My website and business provide private individuals and corporate entities a way to safely and easily invest into physical precious metals in order to keep their savings outside of the banking system.
We provide our clients with the option to either have their bullion privately vaulted at safe & stable international jurisdictions where they can personally visit to inspect & audit their Holding, or they can elect to withdraw their bullion and have it delivered to themselves.
I was fortunate that prior to joining the Military I had knowledge of physical precious metals, which I continued to personally use throughout my time in the Service. But after leaving I did nothing with that knowledge as I never considered that it would be something someone else would generally be interested in.
There are big differences between 1) having knowledge 2) realising that you have knowledge that others value and 3) being able to successfully find and reach those people in order to pass on what they value.
After my initial scepticism (I held off for about 2yrs) I realised that, irrespective of the subject matter, SBI! could provide me with a way to bring all 3 aspects together.
I also knew that whilst many wouldn’t be interested in my knowledge, SBI! was able put me in front of the people that are looking for what I had to offer. And so, in 2014, my website and business was born.
2. You mention that it took you 2 years to finally take the plunge and start your online business with SBI!. What were the main reasons that held you back for so long?
At the time I knew I had the knowledge, but when I spoke to other people, discussing this topic, I could see they switched off over the concept regarding the flaws of FIAT currency and paper currency, and the benefits of physical bullion.
So I was looking at a way to identify how I could position my knowledge and deliver value for other people to use. And at that time, everybody offered something that allowed you to create something online. Generally I am sceptical about anything online. I am more of a person who likes to deal with people on a personal basis rather than at a distance.
I was trying to get comfortable with setting up a business online. I did a lot of reading; among others, I read Ken Evoy’s “Make Your Site Sell (MYSS).” Basically, none of the other companies could offer the same amount of knowledge and value that SiteSell offered freely, like for example the MYSS book.
As I understood it, your subject matter didn’t really matter. I realized that SBI! could help me get my concept to fruition, and so I took the plunge and never looked back. And it’s been fantastic ever since.
3. You started with SBI! in June 2014, so your site is still rather young. How has your traffic grown since then? What traffic levels do you think you need to make your business profitable?
I suppose everyone looks at different traffic metrics, but for me I tend to look at the daily average of unique visitors. In my first month, I had 8 visitors per day on average. Not really a good start to the business, you know! But, month on month, the traffic has consistently improved. However, I’ve also made, strangely enough, a deliberate decision that has suppressed my growth rate.
I’ll try to explain. Goldvu is a member of an international bullion exchange with access to 16 markets worldwide. They are trading as Bullion Capital. I knew they were going to start a massive marketing campaign to relaunch under a new name, Allocated Bullion Exchange or ABX. So I didn’t want my site to revolve around their old name, Bullion Capital, but rather their new name, ABX.
When I researched those keywords with Brainstorm It!, there was no demand. Nobody was searching for these terms. But I realized, if I got ahead of the game, then I could basically own the terms around Allocated Bullion Exchange.
Now I am in the top spot at Google for these particular words, and not only in the top spot but I usually own position one and two. And what I found is that there are about a hundred members in this global exchange, but no one has an online presence connected to it. So as a result, Goldvu became the go-to resource for enquiries about ABX, and everyone kept linking to us. Now these pages are my most highly visited pages.
Because of this strategy, all of ABX’s marketing budget is now basically mine, as my site appears for all the related search terms in position one or two.
So, in summary, had I built pages around the Brainstorm It! keywords with higher demand, I would have grown my traffic faster. But with my chosen strategy I positioned Goldvu as the top result for search terms that will grow in demand.
4. How has building your online business helped you after you had to leave the British Army for medical reasons?
I was effectively given 2 weeks notice, and then I had to be out of the Army. As you can imagine, I didn’t really plan for that. It was a shock, really, because military and civilian ways of life are just so different. As a result, I had difficulties relating to certain areas of civilian life. The primary two areas were work ethic and presentation.
As for work ethic, I was shocked about the amount of time people were wasting, for example being on Facebook rather than doing their job or the task at hand. I just couldn’t get my head around it.
And the other one, about presentation, you know self-presentation, or self-awareness, in terms of how you interact within a group. Many are just a bit more selfish rather than team oriented.
And the other part of presentation is communication. And it’s really the communication side of things that drew me to SBI!. That was the thing that really clinched it for me. After a few weeks with SBI!, specifically when looking at the Action Guide, I realized what was so familiar about SBI!, and it’s a concept called the “Unifying Purpose.”
What “Unifying Purpose” means is that you define a task and understand how that task is going to achieve the big picture. The concept is designed to generate implied tasks when the original task is complete, rather than just stop. This concept goes all the way back to 1915/16, to the battle of Gallipoli, where the British were fighting against the Turkish.
The soldiers got themselves onto the beaches, but then stopped because their task was only to get on the beaches. They didn’t have orders to progress any further. It was one of the biggest disasters the British military ever had. I think even Winston Churchill was demoted afterwards. They lost about a quarter of a million people. As a result of this they realized that the whole communication had been wrong, and so they created the concept of the “Unifying Purpose.”
So you have your mission, which is the task. You have your mission statement, which is the task plus your unifying purpose. You have a single sentence, which gives you your task, your bigger picture and how it all connects.
How does all this fit in with SBI!? If you look at SBI!’s C-T-P-M concept (Content – Traffic – Presell – Monetize), the content is your task. The bigger picture is your monetization. The traffic and the presell is your why you have this task and how it helps you achieve the bigger picture.
Seeing how it all comes together felt very familiar to me. The Action Guide has a lot of implied tasks. So, your task is creating content so that you can generate traffic in order to allow to presell so that you can monetize. It’s just a simple, straight mission statement. That’s where the Unifying Purpose is. And everywhere I looked in the Action Guide, you could see this principle being there.
I’ve always enjoyed creating things. I can see very quick results happening with SBI!, and for me it was like a therapeutic thing to do, something very familiar. I can see my work developing quickly.
From a military point of view it’s great. It’s something I am used to do, it allows me to do what I’ve been doing for many years. SBI! fitted my mind set very well; and I actually think it would fit with a lot of military or ex-military, because the whole concept of the Action Guide and the high level stuff fits perfectly… intentionally or not, I don’t know.
5. Which non-financial benefits of being an online business owner would you highlight?
For me the biggest benefit was freedom to live life. There are two parts: first, you can take your business anywhere. If you want to live your life moving to another continent, you can do so. You have the ability to live your life, effectively.
The other part of this is personal development where you accept the responsibility of risk. You are not in a corporate trap where people fear risk. You come out of university, you have your student loans, so you have to get a job with guaranteed income, because it’s a risk not to. People look at entrepreneurs, at setting up your own business as risky because there’s no guaranteed income.
Once you are in the corporate ladder, you have your mortgage, so therefor you can’t stop because there’s that risk again, and you have to keep going. You are caught in the corporate trap.
Doing an online business allows you to accept the responsibility of risk, allows you to reach your full potential which you’ll never be able to reach in the corporate world. And what I found with SBI! is that it helps you manage the risk of uncertainty. You don’t have to quit your day job, you work one hour a week, or half an hour in the evening, whatever you can spare. You build your business up to that point where you can make that call on the risk, and quit your day job, really. Then your online business is your day job.
From the military point of view, if people struggle with integrating, or relating to the different way of life that civilians offer, something like having an online business through SBI! allows you to escape. It gives you that freedom to work how you want to. You can bring your own ethics and standard of work to the business, because you are the boss. And even if you grow and bring in staff, you imply that work ethic to the people you bring in. The environment that you create is your own.
SBI! allows you to do that, because it’s not a “you must do it one way or another” thing. The amount of information is encyclopedic, it goes on forever, it never stops. And even if the information is not there, you can ask someone.
It works on a personal level. Your life, what you can do with it. You can take advantage of it, while with a corporate way of life, you can’t.
6. How do you think these benefits could help other veterans, who might struggle as they transition out of military life and into civilian life?
When you look at the military way of life, it’s “us,” it’s not “me” or “I” or anything, so it’s very team and community oriented. I was pleasantly surprised about the SBI! forums, how community driven the spirit of SiteSell is. It’s not just the corporate entity there to help you. You’ve got all the people within SBI!. They all help you. It doesn’t matter if a question has been asked a thousand times. And the nice thing about it is, it does again feel very familiar and it’s something you move into easily because you feel you are part of a family.
And all of these people have been there and done exactly what you are doing. It’s the same in the military. They have all been there and done that, whether you are a private or senior officer. You all share a common goal. And this is very much reflected within the forums. You can see it by the way everybody helps each other. No one attacks anyone. It’s the whole atmosphere. Where you may struggle to fit with civilian stuff, this burden is lifted somewhat in the forums, because everyone has got the same goals, everybody understands the issues that you have.
Where you’ve come out from one community, from one team (the military), you bring yourself into another (SBI!). And it’s not a case of that you call yourself a solopreneur. It’s not just you, it’s everybody else. I haven’t personally used the forums as much as I should, but whenever I had a question, there’s been fantastic response, very quick. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s technical, coding or how to market this or that. The breadth and depth of knowledge is fantastic. It is somewhere where you’d be happy to get lost in. There’s no one to attack you, or laugh at you, or tell you how stupid your question is. So, really, for us veterans, the SBI! forums work really really well.
7. And finally, which one piece of advice would you give someone who is just getting started as a solopreneur?
I probably just say, it’s really the beginning, and it all comes down to the Action Guide. Get your business up and running, and on the right direction, and properly so. I have not been doing it for very long, but for me the SBI! Action Guide is the core. Even looking back, you understand the importance of following and doing what it says. Even more so the parts that you struggle with, so you have to be belligerent and stick with it. It’s not there to beat you, but really help guide you. Furthermore, if you really do get stuck then you go to the SBI! community forums and the help will be there.
Even now I go back to the Action Guide and go, OK, I remember this, it’s in the back of my mind, and reminds me of ideas that I haven’t implemented yet. If you are starting, just stick to the Action Guide – it really does work. I was really surprised with the quality of this document. And it is always improving. When I go back now, it looks differently, it’s worded differently. It’s always been correct, but still it’s constantly evolving.
What’s next? Find out more about starting an online business or watch the full interview below.
Learn From More High-Traffic, Profitable Solopreneurs
- Recent Success Stories With Takeaway Lessons. Read more recent inspiring stories from our blog. They deliver useful ideas and takeaway lessons from folks who’ve “done it and won it.” If they can do it, you can, too!
- Multi-Year SBI! Reviews. We take a deep-dive into the long term, full business stories of several different types of solopreneur successes. They periodically update their progress so you can see how they and their businesses grow over a period of years. This gives you excellent insight into what solopreneurs can accomplish with real online businesses.
- Hundreds of the “Top 0.5%.” Every one of these SBI! businesses (hundreds of them) rank in the top 1 million active websites (out of approximately 200 million!). That’s all the more impressive because 1) we are such a small community and 2) many Top 0.5% sites are mid-sized or large companies.
Solopreneurs fail at astronomical rates. SBI! makes you 100x more likely to succeed (that’s not a typo!). It will never be easy, but we do make it way more doable.
Scan the wide variety of solopreneurs who are winning in real niches. Use it to get a feeling for what SBIers do, as well as to generate ideas. What do you know? Turn it into a business.