Phil Schiller, of “Phil’s Conversation,” is a loyal fan of Langpreneur and all it offers people in the language business world. He’s listened to every podcast — and encouraged Jan by emailing him after the first two episodes. He took part in last year’s Business Breakthrough online workshop and joined the Langpreneur Accelerator as soon as it opened.
In this episode, Jan and Phil discuss Phil’s business and the lessons he learned so far becoming a Langpreneur.
When Phil first landed in Zurich, Switzerland he didn’t have a permanent job. That changed when he wanted to start a family, so he joined a Language School as an English teacher.
At first, it was fun — and paid more than just doing odd jobs. But, Phil soon realised that there’s plenty of “behind the scenes” work that isn’t included in a teacher’s salary. And he began to understand that the textbook, curriculum-based lessons weren’t giving the students what they wanted.
Phil asked his students, “what do you want to learn?” and the answer came back loud and clear.
“We just want to know how to speak.”
So Phil decided to start a face-to-face business in conversational English.
“After telling a lot of students to get practice, I felt maybe I should give them that practice.”
Phil knows that students come to him frustrated because they think they’re bad learners or that languages are not for them. However, in reality, their problem is lack of practice, and that’s where Phil’s Conversation comes in.
Learning with Langpreneur
Phil set his website up on Wix and loved it. Wix took him through all the steps, including setting up on Google, and soon customers began to sign up.
But after a while, Phil discovered that teaching is not enough if you want to grow a business. Lessons are an “important and urgent task” but focusing entirely on that didn’t leave Phil time to expand.
So, he listened to podcasts on entrepreneurship and started learning about business strategy. Then, the Langpreneur podcast came online, and everything seemed to click.
“I wanted to invest in myself and that’s why I got so excited when I found Langpreneur because it was the first time I’d found a community of people in entrepreneurship that focused exactly on the business I was in.”
Using Google Ads
Now countless websites offer to teach you English online but Phil markets around his USP (unique selling proposition.) He’s an English teacher who speaks fluent Swiss-German and offers conversation practice to people living in Zurich.
Google Ads provide an excellent way to let people in your local area about your business, and Phil says the way to do that is to use keywords well.
All his ads include the phrase “English conversation “in various ways, so if someone in Zurich searches for “English teacher, Zurich” or “English conversation practice, Zurich,” Phil’s Conversation pops up first.
The ads seem to have paid off because that’s how most of Phil’s clients found him. So in 2021, he plans to hire an SEO agency to optimise the ads and his whole website.
Grow your business as an expert
Challenge your comfort zone if you feel frustrated or stuck.
Phil and Jan agree that it’s crucial to block a few hours off every week to focus on growth, and the strategies will differ from business to business.
Jan’s content focus is the Langpreneur podcast, which shows his expertise in building a language business. But he also knows the importance of creating sound business systems, hiring people when necessary, and having a structured work ethic.
Phil intends to improve his Google ads but needs to step outside his comfort zone and try new things. So he now creates a short video each week and expands upon it in a blog post on his website. Creating content adds value to his audience and helps to position him as an expert in his field.
But Phil is still struggling with that concept, and he’s not alone. A Langpreneur might say ‘I am not an expert’, but Jan advises them to ‘double down on your niche.’
“You need to narrow down more if you’re not the expert yet. For example, you could say I’m an English teacher but there are many people better at teaching English than me so therefore I’m not an expert. But if you say ‘I am a native English speaker living in Zurich and I focus on conversation with a very specific approach’ then automatically you’re the expert because nobody else is doing that.”
“Every time I find myself with two hours of time I panic and start doing something, realise it’s not what I should be doing and do something else… and in the end I never really get much done.”
Phil realises that he needs to improve the way he structures his work if he wants to grow the business. But knowing what to focus on can be difficult. His to-do lists are massive, and without understanding his priorities, he finds himself running from task to task with no clear goal in mind.
Jan agrees that one advantage of having your own business is having the freedom to decide what to work on. But it’s a disadvantage if you are not focused enough to work on what matters.
Think in advance!
Make annual goals and break them down into quarterly goals and weekly goals.
Limit your to-do-list.
“Every week I have a to-do list with only five big tasks. E.g. reach out to five people for a podcast interview; launch a programme; send out a vital newsletter etc.”
… and Tasks.
Tasks can be classified in four ways:
Important and Urgent
Important but Not Urgent
Urgent but Not Important
Neither Urgent nor Important
Phil believes his ‘Important but Not Urgent’ tasks are related to growth, his number one focus for the year. Realising that gives him a perspective on how and what to prioritise.
“Many start ups do 50/50. 50% of time on the growth and 50% on the product or doing the actual work. For myself, I always try to spend at least 30% on growth. You should be spending a minimum of one day a week (8 hours) on growth.”
Another thing to consider is to choose a time for working (on those important but not urgent tasks) that suits your productivity. Phil finds that evenings suit him better while Jan knows he’s at his best in the morning.
Phil’s tips for Langpreneurs
Try not to compare yourself to others
There are enough people for everyone. I never focus on the competition. People come because they connect with me. That’s why I spent so much time on my website because it was my way to express myself.
Be open to change
Never think that what you do is going to stay the same.
Connect with your audience by being yourself
Be open to feedback and listen to yourself – if it’s not fun, I’m not going to want to do it.
Learn from the competition
Be inspired by other people and what they’re doing.
Last word from Jan
Just being a teacher is not a sustainable business. You have to stand out from the crowd and create an audience hungry to buy from you.
“Ideally, it’s something that overlaps with what you like, what the market needs, and something that you are good at. That’s the place where we have to start as Langpreneurs. Then you need to create content for that specific group.”