Who quits a lucrative 6-figure job to start an online fishing club? Joe and Luke Simonds did.
In their college days, while they enjoyed an annual getaway gathering of friends on Little Gasparilla Island, a dream was born to start a business together around fishing.
They had grown up fishing the Florida coast and had so many happy memories of those times that they wanted to be able to live that life again.
They had already worked together and developed some real skill at Internet marketing when they decided to go all in on Salt Strong seven years ago. https://www.saltstrong.com/
Today, their YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/c/Saltstrong has accumulated 74 million views and 231,000 subscribers. They have 26,000 members in their Insider Club, which comes with a 100% Money Back Guarantee.
These gentlemen are on to something.
Our Nugget-Filled Conversation
We sat down for a chat recently and I learned what matters most in fishing and also some nuggets that any business can use to prosper.
Joe says, “Luke and I had always dreamed about having fishing company and it kind of hit us like why don't we just create everything that we wish was around when we were struggling to catch fish and it boiled down to that one word, the trends…helping people find fish fast based on trends and filling in all the gaps that are that are missing out there from fishing magazines, TV shows, etc.”
Luke adds, “So we just put together the full recipe. Like Joe mentioned, the magazines are helpful, YouTube's helpful, the TV shows are helpful, but they're all fragmented that none of them have the entire recipe, where you can just go there and quickly get from point A to point B…”
They learned the hard way how to catch more fish in less time and they built a process they wished they had when they started. Now every decision they make is tested against the question, “Will it help our customers catch more fish or have more fun?”
Business Takeaway nugget: This attention to making life easier for their customers extends into all points of contact with their customers. Using their website, consuming their courses, buying tackle – every interaction is studied for ways to make it simpler and smoother to do business with them.
Joe mentioned a lesson from a book he read recently (he reads a lot of books, always learning). No matter what business you’re in today, you’re in the tech business to some degree. Websites, email, and online shopping all involve technology. Upgrading that as you grow is essential. These brothers have found that the upgrades also lead to growth.
Another nugget they dropped is the value of the risk-reversal strategy they use. Join the Insider’s Club and use the resources for a year. If you aren’t catching more fish after a year, you get your money ($97) back.
Their advice to other businesses is to test different offers in the marketplace and get feedback. They pivoted every month for a while to find what worked.
Don’t stop at transaction feedback from analyzing purchase data, but actually have conversations with customers and potential customers. Those conversations are gold. Listen and learn the real challenges that they are struggling with and then create a solution.
Joe and Luke have learned that this listening tells them what customers commonly want, which is usually different from the actual cause of the problem. They want an easy tactic.
Like golfers who want a new driver instead of help with their swing, anglers often want a magic lure. So this is the lowest friction way to acquire a new customer. Once that relationship is established, then the transition to training is much easier.
Another nugget of wisdom they dropped is that if an offer isn’t converting, spending more money to promote it is not likely to help. “Putting more lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pig.”
Family Strengths and Lessons
A big lesson that Luke learned in his career in a huge corporation is a reluctance to express disagreement or have any confrontation. The relationships between co-workers are not very strong and people are not usually trained to have healthy conflict conversations.
Politics also play a big part in the corporate world.
So you hold it in and it grows and festers, holding you stuck, feeling unfulfilled. It also affects your health.
In their business together these brothers don’t take disagreements home. They get it out and talk about it and trust that their relationship is strong enough to allow that.
Joe also warned of the tendency to speak more aggressively to a family member than you would to another co-worker. This is a key area of difficulty in family businesses. The familiarity and history of the relationship can cause us to take the relationship for granted and lead us to damage it.
Another major area of boundaries that Joe and Luke have figured out is working from their respective strengths.
Joe said, “I think the best advice I could give to anyone, regardless of the relationship as a family, is to figure out what your strength is, like what you're best at, stay in that lane, and get out the other person's lane… because that was where we butted heads a lot. Obviously don't ever say, ‘Stay in your lane, you jerk!’ That doesn't help either.”
We talked about the value of having a support network to check-in with.
The Salt Strong brothers belong to a faith-based peer group that meets monthly and there are several other family business owners in their group.
They observed that even though the group isn’t specifically focused on family issues, they come up often in discussion because family issues become business issues and business issues become family issues.
That’s the nature of family businesses, for better or worse. It’s important not to let yourself get isolated and fall into the trap of thinking that you’re the only one having the kind of problems you face.
I have a family relationship with Joe and Luke. Their father is my cousin. I have known them since they were born, and our children grew up with them and went to grade school with them.
Their success at internet marketing has been a source of inspiration to me and we always talk about it at family gatherings.
They also do live videos from our family Thanksgiving to announce their Black Friday product launch. You might see me taking this picture in the background of their 2021 video.
Salt Strong Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thesaltstrong
Salt Strong on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesaltstrong/
Salt Strong Fishing Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/salt-strong-fishing/id1073473354
If you’re in a family business, let’s chat. We’d like to explore interviewing you for an article like this one. Leave us a comment below about your biggest takeaway from reading about Salt Strong and their journey.