Hasan Kubba wrote 'The Unfair Advantage'. In this podcast he explains how you can find your unfair advantage, and use it to earn a living online even if your audience is small.
Connect with Hasan at https://twitter.com/StartupHasan
Find out more about Superlearning at https://superlearners.traverse.link/
Hello, and welcome to the podcast today. I'm joined by Hassan Kubba. Hassan an award-winning author of the unfair advantage. He's also an online entrepreneur, a coach, and as of recent, also a course creator. Welcome Hassan. Hey man. Thanks for having me on Dominic. Yeah. So good to have you here. We met in ODCC actually, which is a online cohort-based course about course creation. And now you recently launched your own course. So what was that about and how does that tie into what you've done previously? Yeah. It was an exciting experience. I've always wanted to do my own online course. I've been into online courses. I actually got into business because of an online course back in 2012.
So it's been a whole journey for me. The course that I have just finished farming and I'm going to, well, not just finished, maybe it was a couple of more. I finished running. And what it's about is this called transformational creator. It's aimed at content creators who might still have just a small audience.
Maybe they're just starting out and it's how they can monetize their audience and jumpstart through coaching. So the idea is how to niche down, really figure out the needs of your audience, identify who they are, and you know, this whole thing of niche down to blow up. So there's this idea and then validate that how to validate your assumptions that you've made in your initiative now, and what the fears, frustrations, our dreams and desires are of your audience, how you can help them get to where they want to be.
And then you validate that through. And then you could charge for coaching as well, as soon as you learn the frameworks and realize that you can leverage your own unfair advantages, you know, in the beginning, before the niche, you figured out what your unfair advantages are, which is the concept behind my book.
And then you can actually monetize an audience that could be quite small life. They can be quite dedicated and very. They resonate with the things that you say are the things that you teach. So that's kind of the ideas behind it. And another way that you can explain this, as people often start with a low price product, they'll sell t-shirts and merchandise and, or I don't know, a $10 ebook or something online.
And then they start to build more confidence to do higher priced products. But if you do that the opposite way around and you flip the funnel on its head kind of thing, and you start with the high end products, you can then actually have a viable business, even with a small audience.. Right. That's very interesting. And so you wrote the book, the unfair advantage, but yeah.
Way before that you actually started your own online business, as you mentioned. So tell me a bit about, why did you want to start an online business? What did you learn and not only on line business and how did that lead you to the idea of the unfair advantage. Yeah. So the flip, my first business, it was a big deal.
Cause I consider myself like an unnatural entrepreneur. Really? I wasn't the type like Gary V or my co-author Ash Ali, or co-author on my book. These guys were like making money when they were kids at the playground in school. That wasn't me. I kind of learned it on online courses. I said, so it was a course about how to create a business that then runs itself.
And it was based on the four hour work week and living a life of freedom and adventure. And that's why I did it really out. I didn't want to get a normal job. I did economics before that I was doing medicine going to become a doctor essentially. And I dropped out. And I think what I really wanted is time freedom, not just having a lot of money.
So that was my driver. So it wasn't based on some kind of passion or anything. However, so it was the idea behind it was a digital marketing agency, so I can learn the ropes of online marketing and I could start doing it for clients before I do it for my own products. And actually my first target audience was experts, consultants, coaches, et cetera.
I got my first client in that space. It didn't really feel like it's a space. That's going to be worth a lot of money to me. So started working with local businesses. I pivoted. Well, I was doing that websites, the SEO, that marketing online, branding, all those kinds of things. And I learned so much. And while it wasn't a passion, what was fun is growing and learning.
And then systemizing from the get-go delegating systemizing. And after two years of really hard work, no four hour work week there, I did get the point where I could like create passive income to travel around and business was doing that for me. And it was during that time I met my co-author. Well, my soon to be cold and he had just had an IPO with a business called Justy, and I'm sure you're familiar with it based in the Netherlands because the company is originally from Denmark and then to London.
And it grew into actually from there across Europe mainly. And now it's a huge, huge company because they like acquired all these other ones and did all these different things. So yeah, they had an IPO in 2014. I met Ash like a year or two ago. And he was the first marketing director there. So he intrigued me.
So I knew about the online business world. He introduced me to the tech startup world and learn about angel investors and investing. And we started doing angel investing together and our thesis behind what makes a good entrepreneur to invest in what makes a good startup to invest in became the unfair advantage concept, because we'd often see people falling for this myth that I'm working really hard.
I should get there in the end and we felt like there was more to the story and we wanted to help those. Who came from underprivileged backgrounds like us. Right. And so so the unfair advantage is actually something that grew out of angel investing. We should sit next to or after building your online business a little bit with us.
And it was just something that was really interesting to kind of try and decide, and I've gotten more and more interested in investing lately, but. But I've always had a passion for teaching and that's hence the whole course creation route. And it's idea of trying to create like a foundation to be able to create a lot of content and help a lot of people basically.
Right. So, and how did that's like the passion for teaching, I guess also go into the book where you want to tell people how to identify their unfair advantage, presumably how to actually use that tool to build their own. Businesses, et cetera. So like how did you write that down in a way that actually helps people and helps them take action..
Yeah. So it was, I really treated it like a kind of a course, you know, the book itself has kind of followed that structure of like helping somebody transform sort of section one of the book is life is unfair and misses idea of where does success conference? Does it come from merit and harder work?
And as if we live in a pure meritocracy or does it come from luck and random chance and fate and well, we argue in the book is of course it's in the middle. Of course there's in between the two. It's just not like what's for these, you know, motivational speakers and self-development books tell you, which is it's all about you.
You can do whatever you dream of and you can just work hard at it and do it. What would that say? No, actually there are limits and people have different strengths and weaknesses. You have to find your personal edge. You have to find your unfair. That's section one, section two is how to audit your unfair advantages.
Using a tool that we created called the miles framework. And then part three of the book is about how to get started with a startup. So it was structured in that way of like helping people to understand, get a self-awareness there's a theme of gratitude in the book and it's done really, really well.
It shocked us because there's our first book. I don't have a background in writing. And we got like, when it released, we got business before. And then we've got the startup book of the year award and we were over the moon and then we've got the overall business book of the year as well, award. Which was incredible because that's from all the different genres of business books.
We got the number one. So I think it's because we spent so much time understanding our users. We treated it like a tech startup software, almost that we iterated and we got feedback and things that I think that's why it did. Oh, yeah. That's, that's very interesting. You basically applied the whole entrepreneurial iteration process to writing a book as well.
Yeah, exactly. Who's fun. Yeah. And then after that, like, or I dunno, like parallel to that, you're also do coaching and you say coaching is one of the best ways to validate your ideas about your like unfair advantage. How do you go about coaching, finding coaching clients and yeah. And like evaluating your idea basically.
Yes, sir. Coaching is a modality. It's like one of the things that you'll learn in the startup world or business world is it's very important to validate the assumptions that you have. So you can create a target customer and you can make, okay, here are their needs. And here's how my product will solve those.
And whether that product is an online course, whether it's a services, whether it's an app or whether it's a physical product, right. It's still the same things apply. So you have to validate that ,you can do focus groups, you can do interviews, but those interviews and even the group things it's not very different from, there's a lot of crossover between coaching and those things.
So coaching is a modality that you can learn. I used to look down on coaching and thinker. Coaching is like, You know, you ask somebody a question and they reply with a question back to you. Very useful. So it doesn't feel like it's very useful actually. So the most powerful thing, because it's helping you to become empowered and to think for yourself and to get clarity on your own.
So I think there are two main benefits to coaching. Number one is clarity. You get clear on what do you want, what you're trying to achieve, what you're trying to do. What is the next thing that you need to do? You just start to really think it through. And secondly, accountability, we all need that support.
I wasn't able to start my first business. So I got an accountability buddy. I had so much fear and self-doubt, I took me two years to get started. So overall it was like almost four years until I got to the point from taking the online course to actually systemizing my business and having passive income.
It was like four years. It was hard work. It was tough. And a lot of self doubt. And coaching can help somebody through that. So those are the things so study it, and that's what transformational creator is about. It's about how to learn to do that. So it's been, my it's been life-changing for me.
I've been getting coaches for every part of my life now as well. And the amount of self awareness I've gotten from it is incredible. And the amount of improvement I've had these really, really cool. I guess one question, a lot of people have, especially when they start out is how can I find a coach when I don't yet have the income to justify spending that kind of money?
Yeah, it depends. So it's an investment, right? So if you don't have level that amount of money, if you don't have the unfair advantage of money, where we talk about in the book to invest there, are there alternatives so you can get accountability. In many different ways, which online communities and forums and subreddits, you know, all these kinds of groups in the discourse and stuff is one way to do it.
The second you can also, maybe you can use both together is journaling as well. Join the name of accountability, buddy. Those two together can approximate a little bit. What a coach does. But coaching is just so powerful and so much easier. I I've never was able to build a good journaling habit countability.
Yeah. But you have to really find somebody on the same journey as you, and as committed as you are. Often accountability buddies don't work out because one or both of them stops caring and communication doesn't keep going. Or one of them doesn't have good enough social skills or almost like coaching skills to help the other person without making them feel crappy, you have to have the right level of holding somebody accountable, but at the same time being gentle and kind and accepting of them and patient with them. So that's something that our coach learns to do. Something that I've learned to do whereas an accountability partner doesn't so it's just, yeah, it's money is definitely an unfair advantage.
If you have that to invest. I think a lot of people spend money on things that aren't investments though are liabilities instead. But I think it's just about prioritization for. Yeah, definitely. And so do you have maybe like one example of where coaching helped you validate an idea, but also one example where you got an idea and through coaching you're like, well, actually this is this not going to work out at all.
Yeah, like plenty of times we've thought about. So before the book became the book, well, we actually thought about is creating sort of an AI powered software tool that can help to grade different pitch decks. So a startup pitch deck is like what people do to try to raise funding. They create the slides and would the information about the company.
And we were getting sent these slides all the time and we were like, wow, there's the signal to noise ratio was. And it's like, maybe there's a way we can grade these. What can we look for? And that was the start of our sort of investigation into this idea, which became the unfair advantage. And what we would do, we were talking to venture capitalists and other investors, and we got in front of them when we were interviewing them and asking about their needs.
And that's kind of similar to coaching. You ask open-ended questions. So that's one way, but then the main example, well, that's like the protest Prato book was that it's kind of software startup, but the main example is for the book itself. So we were coaching and mentoring, startup founders just purely to get some feedback on the book concepts and to understand where are they getting stuck, where do they need help?
That I think is the main kind of case study I can give you from my own life for how coaching me to validate something. It was also for the transformational creator course, actually. So I started that first I started one-to-one teaching and then I started to do group coaching and then it became the course.
So it's like the group coaching was the beta cohort of the course. It was like, there wasn't really much content. It was me asking questions, seeing where people are getting stuck and that's how it kind of became. That's very cool. So yeah, you're basically keeping it right. Iterating on the same thing and it's all sent to different formats and kind of naturally you have to think about is like, how can you serve people?
Rather than thinking about the tool. It doesn't matter if it's an app or if it's a journal, you know, there are these different journals that you can create that people are sending or whether it's I don't know, physical object or, you know habit tracker. I've got a habit tracker something somewhere or on the floor.
And it's really useful. Been really useful for me to track my habits. I've been building and growing on. So different tools can have different things, but you have to kind of be tool agnostic. Alright, and just think, how can I help somebody get the results that they want? So the most crappy the most what's the right way.
It's like the ultimate MVP is just to say, okay, I'll just coach somebody and help them. One-to-one it's very unscalable. There's this thing from Y Combinator, which is do things that don't scale. And I'm a huge believer in that. And coaching is the perfect example of like, let's say you want to create an online.
Let's start by coaching. That's the thing that doesn't scale very well. Yeah, coaching is it's definitely great. But then yeah, you mentioned tools as well, and maybe there are other resources like books. What would you say is like the resource or tool that has helped you most in this in this whole learning journey? Is it like the initial course you took or is it something you've heard about?
Oh, good question. What are my most transformative tools? Okay. So one of the books that really had an impact on me is the millionaire fast lane. I recommended this one to Allie Abdel actually. And he has a good video summary over it because of my recommendation.
It's a great book. The millionaire fast lane, cheesy. Well, some people might think that's a bit of a cheesy title. Brilliant book by MJ DeMarco. Another classic, which I can really recommend is the E-Myth revisited by Michael Gerber, just a classic brilliant book about how to systemize your business.
And for me, I think a lot of Steven Pressfield's the war of art by Steven Pressfield was quite useful. Although I was reading it while I had a lot of resistance and I yeah. If I had a coach on that, rather than just that book, I think I would have got help much more, but the book helped me with the concepts, but I wasn't able to really apply it for a long time.
And I still struggled. I mean, there's still resistance can be quite tough, but it's great. But the war of art by Steven precipice. Yeah. I guess like applying things you learn, especially from books is very hard and maybe in your journey from building that first business until the book and. What has been the biggest learning challenge and how did you overcome that learning challenge?
I think it was really difficult to learn how to make the book cohere, like to be a, make it in a very simple terms, how can you make the book good? You know, rather than just a collection of like blog articles, how do you make it something which is its own thing where it flows and it's this. On theme on point doesn't ramble is a page Turner, very engaging, and I studied storytelling, frameworks and mindsets, and, and then all these different concepts and ideas and models.
My favorite one was Dan Harmon, Dan Harmon's story cycle, which is based on the hero's journey, but a simplified version of it. And Dan Harmon was the co-creator of Rick and Morty that caught to show. And he created community as well. We've got a really great model. So the story circle by Dan Harmon really helped me.
And that was a big piece that I had to learn on a storytelling side. Right. So I guess one question I always ask towards the end is like, who would you like to see as well on this podcast? Who would I like to see.
Recently on my podcast. So we have a podcast now on the unfair advantage podcast, we had one, two amazing guests. So I'm going to recommend two people. One is Robin waits. He's the author of take your shot. And another book that he did, his online business startup, really good English guy, a really nice guy.
And very, he said, he knows a lot about kind of lifestyle businesses and coaching and that cut side as well, but his book take your shot. It was a fantastic short book and it's like a story and you learn so much about business just from the story. And the second guy is Simon Alexander on and he was he's the author of an upcoming book.
It's going to be published by penguin called energized concepts about energy and how to build energy. And how that's what you need to focus on. It's fantastic. So those are the two guests that I would recommend. Awesome. Yeah, I'll reach out to them. And then if you want to find out more about you or buy a book, how can they find you?
Where can they find your books and other resources? Also the unfair advantage, how you already have, what it takes to succeed is available on Amazon. You can order it. That it's not available right now. So very shortly you will be in is in the U S and Canada, because we've got a separate publishing deal after COVID because we've launched the book just before COVID.
So we've got a separate publishing deal with a us publisher, which was really cool. So we've basically got two publishing deals for the book. And so they can say if you're in the U S and Canada, you can order the book. It'll just take a couple of weeks to arrive. But you can't get it in digital and audio.
Until it comes out in June, 2022. So if you're listening to this after that, its already out but in the rest of the world, that's available everywhere in bookstores and on Amazon audiobook and you book an actual physical book as well. And just connect with me on social media on at startup Hasan Hasan is with one .S I'm on Instagram, Twitter, I'm on LinkedIn.
Cool. Awesome. Yeah. Then a lot of continued luck with our book and which our quit your course as well. It was great to have you on a podcast. Thanks for having me. All right. Thanks.