Originally from the Hawkesbury region north-west of Sydney, Daniel Tolson has been a champion wakeboarder, a builders labourer, cabin crew for Emirates, a hypnotist, a business owner, an ex-business owner, a podcaster and a YouTuber. These days he’s an Aussie expat who coaches business clients virtually from Taiwan where he lives with his wife and two young kids. Yahoo Finance checked in to hear how he built his seven-figure business.
What does your business do?
You know that feeling you get when you don’t know where your next customer is coming from? And you're worried if you're going to make enough money to survive? That's the problem I solve for my clients.
There are three reasons my clients come to me for help in their business. The first reason is they want to catapult their influence. Secondly, they want to accelerate their impact. And thirdly, they want to unleash new income levels. It normally works in that order. If they become more influential, then they can have a bigger impact in the life of their team and the customers and once that starts to happen, then the reward is a new income level.
What led you to start your current business?
I lost a business in 2007. I was betrayed by a business partner and I didn't know enough about business at that stage to have contracts and agreements in place. I'd been working towards building a business for many years and lost everything overnight.
I then came back to Australia in Christmas 2007 and I realised that the country had changed. I'd always been self employed through family businesses, and now everybody wanted a certificate or degree to get a job. The only jobs that I could get was being a builder's labourer or shovelling concrete. The worst job that I had was as a lollipop man.
So there I was: a former Australian champion athlete who had been running a family business and had a successful career in real estate without any certification... who could no longer get a job because I'm uneducated.
That brought up a lot of things from the past because when I went to school at age 11, I was diagnosed with linear sequential learning disability and I spent five years in remedial therapy. Then once I got to high school, I contracted Epstein Barr Virus, chronic fatigue, teenage chickenpox, and then I dropped out of school at age 17. I spent the next two years in and out of rehabilitation for two major knee reconstructions.
When 2008 came around and I was working as a lollipop man, I said to myself, 'this is not what I'm here to do'.
So I applied for a job with Emirates Airline in Dubai and I got the job. Then in 2010 I got a 4am telephone call saying my fiancée (who also worked for Emirates) had been in an accident… she couldn’t return to work because of a permanent disability.
By this time I'm co-leading a team of 17,000 cabin crew as a senior flight steward. I've used all my holidays, the company has been very good to me but I had to make a decision. Do I fly and risk not being there for the birth of my daughter or do I resign from my job?
At the end of 2012, I resigned from my job and then returned to Taiwan to be with my wife for the birth of our daughter.
That's how our business started: through trauma.
How did you land your first client(s)?
It's a very interesting business model, because I sell my knowledge. I'm getting a return on investment of time; so my first clients in 2009 literally paid me Starbucks coffee in Dubai. I would work on the aircraft and so I'd exchange a coaching session for a testimonial. Then when I first started to get paid I started to work with pilots to help them pass their exams by teaching them how to retain and recall information faster.
I left Emirates airline in 2013 and first hit a seven-figure revenue in 2017.
What have been some of your biggest milestones in business?
My biggest milestone is knowing my knowledge creates a significant impact on people's business. And my best milestone was earning A$5,000 for 90 minutes of consulting. That was a huge return on investment (ROI). As cabin crew, I wouldn't have earned that in a month, but there I was charging A$5,000 for just 1.5 hours.
That was important for me because I wasn't educated in the school system. Now it doesn't mean that I'm not self educated - I've read hundreds of books, courses and articles and I've written books. But for me to be able to prove to myself that I am worthy without an official certification was a huge boost to my confidence.
What would be your biggest mistake in business?
Not believing in myself 100 per cent. I think the biggest obstacle would be fear, doubt and limiting belief. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of trying and failing, doubts when comparing myself to others, or thinking that because I'm not educated, I might not be able to charge these fees.
That includes the self limiting beliefs which I call the b*****t stories that we tell ourselves like ‘I can't do this because I'm not educated’ or ‘Who's going to buy my services? I don't know enough'. They would have been my biggest obstacles and the biggest enemy to success.
What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring business owner?
Get to know your numbers. The fact that most businesses fail in the first two years has nothing to do with their production services. It's to do with their preparation. Most businesses don't make it to the fifth year, but the majority of businesses that make it to the seventh year end up becoming very profitable. So you've got to learn to be resilient. You've got to learn to get knocked down and get back up. And if you refuse to quit, then ultimately you will succeed.