What made him turn towards entrepreneurship?
Bob van Buul, originally from the Netherlands, started there when he was just 14 years old. His first attempt at entrepreneurship was making websites with his friend; they started by implementing skills they learned in school and writing HTML code.
They saw this as a great opportunity for making some money but wanted to do more. When they found out the butcher shop at the corner of the street wasn't registered as a business, everything was a cash payment, they thought of a "genius" plan. They approached the owner with a proposition but added sales tax and VAT as an attempt to outsmart the butcher. Unfortunately, they were caught on the bluff, but the butcher just laughed it off.
Bob went from having no clue as to what he was doing to become the huge entrepreneur we know of today. He dropped in and out of university until he finally decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur. From then, he put his entire focus toward his goal and started growing at a rate even he couldn't anticipate.
How he knew that websites were his calling
Bob started with curiosity in his computer class. He and his friend took their lessons in coding and put them to practice, to test how far they could take it. But soon, Bob saw a new path; he stopped learning how to code and shifted his focus to help people and businesses grow. He believes that most entrepreneurs fail because they go into business with money as their google; however, he states that success only comes to those who enjoy their work.
"I actually enjoy doing what I do and can see myself do this for 20, 30, 40, 50 years… there is nothing better than making money off of doing something that you actually enjoy."
He talks about the book 'Start with Why by Simon Sinek, where Simon talks about the commonality between the business's most successful people. They don't think about the path to make money and instead focus on purpose and passion.
Bob saw the true strength in this, especially in people like Elon Musk and his work in SpaceX. At the time, he already had a pretty successful software business that was bringing in money, so Bob had the freedom to choose a path of passion - mentorship. Quite early on in life, Bob realized that he liked helping people grow and use their skills to the full potential. He says that his 'why' of internship started as just that - a path to fulfil his purpose, which he fortunately transformed into a business that capitalizes on his skills.
Why not courses?
It's common knowledge that courses are the most profitable path when it comes to mentorship, but Bob prefers having one on one conversations, to really give the best advice he can and watch the people change right before his eyes. He strongly believes that mentorship is personalized and needs to fit the people's needs. Whereas, in terms of courses, one programme that works for someone might not work for someone else.
In the beginning, Bob did not make money off of mentorship and only realized that he could monetize his skills when he saw his mentees walk a path of success with his advice.
They want to help people out and mentor them.
Finding his purpose was actually from a completely random encounter in London. Bob was in the city to meet a client. There, he just so happened to meet a young boy, Iman Gadzhi and ended up recruiting Iman to shoot videos for his fitness page on Instagram.
During the week in London, Iman asked Bob multiple business-related questions and didn't stop once Bob returned home. Iman would often call him up to ask questions and opinions on his business. Later, when Iman improved and started growing, Bob was overwhelmed with a sense of pride, and that's when he realized that being a mentor and helping businesses grow was something he needed to do. Soon Bob switched his fitness page to mentorship to advertise his services, taking the first step of true success.
Taking one step at a time
Entering the business world can be intimidating and overwhelming all at the same time. Bob has noticed that from the get-go, people tend to bite off more than they can chew, leading to their inevitable failure.
He's even seen people take up to four endeavours all at once. But the mistake often isn't the number but the quality. All these endeavours tend to be mediocre, which pulls the person's attention across multiple platforms. Instead, if one were to focus on only one exceptional project, they would have the attention and passion for refining every flaw and providing the best possible version of it.
When exactly is a good time to start the next project?
Bob's advice to those who love exploring and growing, the best path is to get the first project up and running with a strong foundation before starting on the second project.
Even financially, it's best to make sure the first project has a team to fall back on and is at a safe point in the market before starting on the second project or multiple after.
"Purely from a financial point of view, just getting the best out there in one thing means you can start charging much higher prices; people will start coming to you."
He says it's easier to move forward when you have an established brand because that way, people know who you are. Having a good and strong brand image will not only draw more people to your initial business but create an audience that will pay attention to future projects.
And when you start from scratch, you need to focus on improving one thing to establish a brand for yourself, and once you've accomplished that, you can move on to another project.
Bob and many entrepreneurs in business, once they have a self-functioning team and company, often get bored and seek something new. Bob has thought about investing in startups that keep his mentorship active while earning money. Personally, for Bob, it's better to invest in startups for 2-3 years and be there for them, and once they're up and running, move on to the next.
Branding a skill
Bob talks about a Youtube video that he uploaded, called "How to earn 100 dollars in a day." Bob did admit that it was clickbait but what was different about his video was the content. Other people would upload videos to tell you to sell things from around your house and other arbitrary things.
"I can probably make 100 bucks a day for a few days, but at some point, my house is empty, you know, that's not a way of making 100 bucks a day. Whereas, say, growing an Instagram page and selling it. What, in my opinion, you should be doing is, learn a proper skill, a high-value skill. So something that other people don't want to do or can't do so high-income scale and once you've mastered something and you started performing that skill in front of people that's when you're going to start building a brand."
Effects of social media
Bob believes that using social media is a great platform for businesses to showcase themselves. You can easily create an image that attracts a huge audience.
However, like all things, there is a downside to social media, for just as easily, it can turn into a vicious place. New entrepreneurs are often intimidated by the life (of businesses and brands) that is showcased online. Nobody ever posts about their failures; they highlight their luxurious life and achievements, which can take a toll on one's mindset, especially if they start ours.
Bob states it's important to know that these huge Instagram businesses didn't just start yesterday and automatically grow a million followers. They grew and worked towards it bit by bit, day by day.
Sometimes social media can take away from the main essence of business - consistency. It's easy to feel disheartened after gaining little progress over a few weeks or months, to give up on your idea even before it gets a chance actually to bloom. But the true secret to social media success is consistency and perseverance; keep pushing and improving every step of the way.
Funnily enough, it took Bob deleting social media for a time to see that he had been spending a lot of time on the internet, not being productive. He states that many people would come to him and complain about how they don't have time for their startup ideas but would turn around and spend 6 hours on Tik Tok. That is time that could have been spent working toward their dream.
Bob came across a study that revolved around how human beings procrastinate a lot today. And the reason why is because social media gives artificial dopamine. Before social media, people had to work, do chores, and as a reward, they would get dopamine. For example, in the ancient era, people would hunt for food; getting a catch and eating it would give them a sense of dopamine. However, since artificial dopamine is present at our fingertips, people don't feel the need to work and end up procrastinating.
"I'm trying to find the right mix between as much value as possible but also broadening my audience and actually getting more views so you can actually, at the end of the day, help more people."
Bob believes working towards your passion and giving it everything you have is the true path to success and happiness. If you love something, you have no reason to push it away or not give it your hundred percent. With his mentorship, he aims to let potential business moguls work towards the finish of their dreams and makes sure they know that they have what it takes to make their dreams come true.