Nick Broekema

See how Nick is earning a living teaching others to navigate the world of LinkedIn to sell their products and services through content and sales strategies for the modern era.

July 27, 2023
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  • Nick Broekema
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Started in 2022
  • Bootstrapped
  • 6 Figures in annual revenue
  • 9K linkedin followers

So Nick, what's your backstory?

I grew up in a small city called Harderwijk, with a population of about 45,000 people.

I was the only child, and my dad owned an advertising and PR agency. While he was busy with work, my mom took care of me. Surrounded by entrepreneurship, I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I remember when I was 11 years old, I told my dad, "I'm gonna do what you do, Dad, but I'll be even better!" He still brings up that story every year with a proud smile on his face.

My parents were hard workers. Before my mom became a housewife, she worked at my dad's company. And prior to that, she had various corporate jobs and worked for a bank. They encouraged me to get a job at an early age. When I was 13 years old, I got my first job at a hotel. I washed dishes, cleaned hotel rooms, mopped floors, and even cleared the driveway of horse manure.

In the following years, I worked as a bartender and waiter at numerous bars and restaurants. It was tough work. At the age of 18, I worked 16-hour days. It taught me resilience and to push my limits. It also taught me how to deal with people and gave me confidence.

My parents divorced when I was around 15 years old, and it took them 4 years to finalize it in court. It was a painful chapter in my life. I moved out when I turned 18. I always knew I wanted to leave Harderwijk. While it was a great place to grow up, I desired more. Amsterdam was my goal. I found a study program and a place to live with my four best friends (who also hailed from Harderwijk) and moved there when I was 21.

School and I didn't mesh well. I made many attempts, but it was a struggle. I accumulated a significant college debt because of it and wasted many years. I often wondered, "Why can't I fit in? Why can't I make it work? Why can't I retain all this random information?". Now, I realize that school wasn't the right fit for me. I missed subjects like Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Mental/Physical Health, and Building Relationships—topics that better prepare you for the real world. If I could do it over again, I would gladly pursue self-education through resources like YouTube and skip university altogether.

After spending a good eight years working in bars and hotels, I felt the need for something different. I was 24 and still in college. I decided to put my graphic design degree to good use and created an advertisement on a Craigslist-like website. That marked the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.

After a few months, I met my co-founder, a guy who specialized in creating WordPress websites. We teamed up and gradually grew our agency to a team of nine individuals over the span of six years. In 2018, we had a modest exit.

After a break, I returned to freelancing. I focused on building brands and websites for scaleups. I took on two interim positions. First, I was the Head of Design for a fintech company (valued at $200m back then). Later, I worked as an Art Director for another scaleup valued at $400m (now $2.2B). I built a team to do a rebranding and redesign all assets. We saw our work on Times Square twice.

Tell us about your business and how did you come up with the idea?

Working for scaleups on a unicorn track was rewarding, fun, and tough. It was hard work. But it felt like being employed, not something I envisioned for myself. I decided to quit.

I took a long break to figure stuff out and realised I learned a lot over the years. I learned what it was like to build an agency. What it's like to run a freelance business. How to get clients and how to deal with them.

It was early 2022 when I decided to pivot to business mentoring and help freelancers to become 'solopreneurs'. The way I see it, solopreneurs are freelancers with an offer portfolio. They don't sell their time. They work remotely. They don't work alone but leverage other people's time. They use systems.

I knew that a lot of freelancers struggled with finding the right clients: the ones with the right budget, who they have great chemistry with, who they love working with.

Most freelancers have great skills, but they're not leveraging them. For example, you could sell your time or help someone do what you do. Makes a huge difference in terms of time and income.

You could have the best ICP and most compelling offer. If no one knows about it, you won't sell anything. It's something I learned first-hand. When I started doing business mentoring, I had no audience, no track record, no nothing. It was incredibly hard to sell my services. But now I know how.

If you sum things up, there are three things I help my clients with:

1. Defining an ideal customer they love working with
2. Creating a compelling offer for their ideal customers
3. Sell that offer on LinkedIn through content and sales

How did you attract your first handful of customers?

My first 20-30 sales calls all failed. Here's why:

- I talked too much about what I did
- I didn't ask (the right) questions
- My offer was a huge list of USPs

People were overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time.

Then I realised something important: why overcompensating? I've been having discovery and sales calls for over a decade. So I went agency-mode:

1. Diagnosing the problem, pains, and frustrations
2. Summarising them so they felt understood
3. Talk about a dream scenario how I could help them

That was a game changer.

Mind you, it took months to fix my sales processes, but also to write better content. Without content that resonates with my ICP = no sales conversations.

How did you validate the idea behind your business?

I always tell my clients that every (failed) sales touchpoint is an opportunity to learn and improve. If your lead gives you a hard no, you want to know why. Uncovering why they don't want to proceed can ironically turn the tables.

My 20-30 failed sales weren't wasted time. Every call provided me with insights to improve my offer and simplify it. Every time I spoke to someone, I learned more about their struggles.

Best thing: every time I learned something new, I'd immediately use it in my content. So even when people said no, I would write about their problems like I was talking to them. A lot of them came back and became clients this way.

How did you manage to get your first 100 customers?

I use LinkedIn for everything. I don't have a website. I don't have a newsletter. I don't have complex sales funnels. It's LinkedIn all the way.

Here's my content strategy in a nutshell:

1-2 / week growth posts → to pop on my client's radar
1-2 / week authority posts → to show I'm their guy
1 x / week lead-gen post → why and how to hire me

That lead-gen post has a CTA that drives inbound leads to the DMs. There I ask a few questions to see if we're a match, share the details of my program, and then it's usually set. I don't do sales calls anymore.

This went so well, I had to pause accepting new clients and I'm working on a scalabe offer as we speak.

Tell us about the distribution channels that didn't work

I did a newsletter for a few months. I realised it didn't make sense to sell my stuff without a decent audience. I think I had around 1500 followers back then. It cost me a lot of time and I didn't make a dime. Might revive it at some point, but I've learned there's a time and place for new stuff.

How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship?

I didn't. Most people's Plan B is my Plan A. I've always been independent.

But if I had to share my two cents:

- Save up for 6 months of runway
- Start creating content ASAP (build in public)
- Learn basic copywriting and selling online on YouTube
- If needed: work for free to build case studies and collect testimonials

Once you get that 6-month 'keep the lights on' buffer, quit your job and go all-in. Worst case: you can always go back to your initial Plan A.

What specific tools have been most helpful in growing your business?

I like simplicity. I only use LinkedIn. Sometimes I use ChatGPT like a noob and utilise it like an advanced Google search. I use the Google Business Suite. I use Visma as my bookkeeping software although finance and administration are completely delegated. I use Figma for creating visuals. Sometimes I create Loom videos to share feedback on stuff.

The Shift App is recommended. It's like having all your tools in one window.

What drives you to do what you do?

Freedom.

Freedom to spend time with my girlfriend and 9-month-old daughter. Freedom to spend time with family and friends. Freedom to explore new things. Freedom of not having to worry about finances. Freedom to be where I want to be. Freedom to work where and with whom I want.

Who are some experts/entrepreneurs to follow to learn how to grow your business?

Justin Welsh
Ken Yarmosh
Matt Gray
Dakota Robertson
Dan Koe
Alex Hormozi
Chris Do
Ali Abdaal

Any quotes you live by?

"Choose between what you want now and what you want most"

The latter is always the best and hardest way to go.

Your links + socials

My LinkedIn Profile

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