Making millions of dollars a year isn’t the most interesting thing about Pat Flynn. Neither is the story about how being laid off jolted him into the world of entrepreneurship or his strange obsession with all things Back To The Future. The most interesting thing about Pat Flynn is how he makes his money. Pat is mostly known for his website, smartpassiveincome.com, which teaches people to create successful, passive income-driven online businesses. But that’s not Pat’s only business. Some of Pat’s other ventures run the gamut of pretty much every odd and unrelated industry you could think of including food trucks, camera tripods, architecture exam study guides, best-selling books, and security guard training. Through Pat’s main business, smartpassiveincome.com, he takes his audience through a behind-the-scenes look at different tactics and strategies in creating and running all kinds of businesses, hoping to inspire and educate others and help them build success.
Your experiences, no matter how bad they may seem, can help other people
Pat had two loves as a young adult: music and architecture. So, as soon as he entered college he knew exactly how he wanted to spend his days in college. While deejayed and leading the Cal Band as a drum master, Pat began working on his architecture degree. Then in 2005, Pat graduated from the University of California Berkeley with his B.A. in Architecture and landed his first architect job a few months later.
Working at his (then) dream job as an architect, Pat wanted to do what every young, career-minded professional did—get promoted and advance quickly in the company. So, he started taking on extra duties and projects in hopes of getting promoted. And within two short years, Pat was promoted to the title of job captain—a distinguished role in an architecture firm—and became the youngest architect in his company to hold that title. Making about $60k a year, life was good for Pat. His career was booming, he was well respected in his company, and he had just proposed to his girlfriend (who said yes). But, in 2008, life decided it was time for a drastic shakeup in Pat’s fortune-tempered life.
Pat was called into his boss’s office one day and told: “you’re one of the smartest, youngest guys we have, but we have to let you go.” Those two notions seem entirely oxymoronic, recalls Pat as he tells the story. But as he shares with us that experience of being laid off over 10 years ago, there’s a deep sense of appreciation he has for what happened because it changed the trajectory of his life completely—for the much better. It didn’t just spur the beginnings of his multi-million dollar empire. It gave him freedom from the expectation that we have to live our lives a certain way, that we have to work for someone else, 9-5 in order to achieve success. And that freedom changed everything for Pat.
Uncontrollable curiosity makes us better at what we do. If I’m not curious, then I wouldn’t create the work I do.
Before Pat was laid off, while he was in his distinguished role at his architecture firm, he was constantly looking for ways to advance his career. One thing that Pat wanted to achieve was to pass the LEED AP exam, an exam that gives architects credentials and certifications in sustainable building practices. While studying for the exam, Pat noticed that there was a shortage of resources available online to help him prepare. So, he decided to start a website that served as an online repository for all the graphics, charts, information, notes, and knowledge he was gathering for this exam.
After being laid off, he understandably didn’t know what to do with himself and didn’t know what he would do to provide for the family he was about to start. So, Pat started doing some research online, hoping to find some other way to utilize his skills and degree. He took an interest in podcasting and soon began consuming podcast episodes in hopes of finding inspiration for his next career move. In one particular podcast episode, Pat remembers a man talking about how he was making six figures teaching people how to pass the PMP certification exam. That got Pat thinking about that old website that he built for the LEED exam, called greenexamacademy.com, and became curious about whether or not he could do something similar. He placed an analytical software on his site and was almost floored to find that this repository-site that he has built for himself was being viewed thousands of times each month by architects from all over the world. It was even getting links from government agencies that supported LEED exams and curriculum. So, Pat did what any site owner would do; he installed AdSense. 15 minutes later, Pat Flynn made his first dollar from the internet (well, $1.08 to be accurate).
Being an entrepreneur allows you to build a business around the life you want to live versus living a life within the business that you happen to be in.
Pat’s first online business, greenexamacademy.com, made him $8,000 in its first month, and he soon made more money in the next few months from the site than he did in an entire year as an architect. That’s when Pat realized that he had stumbled onto a gold mine called passive income and needed to share his success with others (but in an authentic and transparent way) so that they could replicate it and have the same results. Suddenly, smartpassiveincome.com (his biggest and most well-known venture) was born. Through smartpassiveincome.com, Pat teaches others how to build successful passive income-based businesses online. From building email sequences to becoming a YouTube sensation, Pat blogs, and podcasts about different tactics and strategies that he’s personally tried in his various businesses. In essence, SPI (Smart Passive Income) is the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at successful online businesses.
Now, Pat and his wife spend their days hanging out with their two children. They walk their kids to and from school every day, something that Pat says no one else in their neighborhood has the luxury of doing. While his kids are at school, Pat spends time with his wife and works on his businesses. Pat’s also big on traveling and creating memories with his family, so you’ll often see goofy pictures of his kids on Instagram or vacation pictures of the whole family. All the while, in the past 12 months, Pat has made approximately $2,171,652.55 (when Pat says he’s transparent, he means it).
Veterans have discipline, grit and perseverance, wanna-preneurs can only wish to have those traits.
Pat may not be a veteran but he knows quite a few things about veterans and why they make such amazing entrepreneurs. Of course discipline, grit, and perseverance top the list of distinguishing characteristics of veterans. But another thing Pat mentions is a strong mind. “Successful entrepreneurs have strong minds and there’s nobody who I know who has a stronger mind than somebody who’s been in the military.” That’s just one of the reasons Pat’s excited about MIC19.
One of the last things Pat mentions in his new book, Superfans. In some really simple terms and with some really simple match, Pat explains that it doesn’t take much to build a six-figure business online IF you know how to cultivate superfans. It’s one of the things he’ll be talking about this year as he takes the stage in DC. Humbled and honored to meet the service members and spouses that’ll be in attendance, Pat shares that “the next person you meet could be the game-changer.”