You’re a Creator, but are You a Business Owner? With Craig Chavis, Jr.

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Lots of people are becoming creators now. In fact, Craig Chavis Jr. describes being a creator as sharing your expertise. But does that make you a business owner? Not so fast! That’s a completely different thing. And in today’s episode, we dig into what those differences are, finding the right message for your business, and how creators can become business owners. In How I Built It PRO, we talk about putting yourself into a corner, and how owning a business is kind of like surfing. 

Top Takeaways

  • Put the message above the messenger. You need to figure out what people want, so you can offer to help them get what they want.
  • A creator is anyone who shares their expertise. And while many people try to sell their knowledge, you need to find people who want it. So you frame your expertise as results or what they will have once they work with you.
  • People think having a business is setting up a website. But you can’t build a business virally.

Show Notes


Joe Casabona: Lots of people are becoming creators now. In fact, Craig Chavis Jr. describes being a creator as sharing your expertise. But does that make you a business owner? Not so fast. That’s a completely different thing. And in today’s episode, we dig into what those differences are, finding the right message for your business, and how creators can become business owners.

Listen for these top takeaways where we talk about putting the message ahead of the messenger and about having to figure out what people want so you can sell them what they need, and how being a creator is anyone who shares their expertise, but if you’re trying to sell your knowledge again, you need to find out what people want, you need to frame your expertise as results, and debunking the myth of how people think having a business is setting up a website, but you can’t build a business virtually.

In How I Built It Pro, we talk about putting yourself into a corner and how that forces you to act, and how owning a business is kind of like surfing. So without further ado, let’s get into the intro and then the interview.

[00:01:18] <music>

Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast where you get free coaching calls from successful creators. Each week you get actionable advice on how you can build a better content business to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.

[00:01:40] <music>

Joe Casabona: All right. I am here with Craig Chavis Jr., the founder of the Solo Creator Club, also a holistic business coach. Super interesting conversation in the pre-show. I’ll just say right off the bat, if you are not a How I Built It Pro member, you missed some great stuff. So sign up over at

Craig, thanks for being on the show.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Joe, I’m so privileged to be here, man. This is nice and refreshing to talk with another like-minded creator and I’m super excited for our conversation today. So thanks again for having me on.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is it, right? So, I mean, full disclosure, Craig has sponsored the show before, but the reason that he is a guest today is—he didn’t pay for this spot or anything. Like what he paid for was the spots that ran a couple of months ago—is that we are so similar. We have very different life experiences but I feel like we have a very similar philosophy.

So the first thing I want to dive into is what you were just talking about in the pre-show. You mentioned Zero to One, Peter Thiel’s book. I mentioned, like, I can’t stand Peter Thiel. And sometimes I let the messenger get in the way of the message and you said that you try to put the message above the messenger. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I feel like LinkedIn, influencers, and the tweet thread people, some of whom I’ve had on this show, they’re trying to catch trends and get big and I don’t really think that reflects who they really are, if that makes sense.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Oh, no, I love that because I loved how you mention the question “who you really are”. Because there’s a popular LinkedIn expert and TEDx speaker by the name of Simon Sinek who blew up with his talk, you know, everything starts with why. And it was about essentially leaderships discovering their why, leaders discovering their why so that they can better understand why they do what they do so that they can position themselves for success and also better lead their followers to success.

The thing is, is that Simon Sinek is very, very wrong because how do you know why do you do what you do if you first don’t know who you are? Because who you are affects why you do what you do. Who you are is this North star of your compass. So when it comes to who I am, I’m a truth seeker and truth-teller. And the why I got into entrepreneurship and into creator space was to really discover my truth and achieve, you know, personal and economic financial freedom.

But the thing is, is that I realized is, in order to really lead others, I had the first lead myself. And like it’s really all about credibility. You know, through my upbringing, because I don’t come from any privilege, from any, you know, wealth or any nepotistic connections, I started from the bottom, from the mud. And what I realized in that upbringing is that everybody has brilliance, whether it’s the homeless person, you know, the pimp on the corner, you know, the old lady in the retirement home. Everybody has a nugget of wisdom that they can impute upon you.

And so I learned, from my early age, that like titles mean nothing because some of the people with the highest and the biggest and the flashiest titles are idiots, but they’ve gotten to where they’ve gotten in life through nepotism, through connections, through privilege. But when you really peel back the layers of the onion, there really isn’t much there.

To the inverse, there’s people in society who don’t have titles, who are those old women, you know, in the retirement homes, those pimps, those hustlers, you know, those people that come from the inner city and the ghettos but they’re absolutely brilliant and they have a really, really great message. So essentially, I learned that I could learn anything from anybody and the messenger is not as important as the message.

So when I look at people who are influencers and have big reputations and big titles and the message that they’re putting out is garbage, that automatically lets me understand that, like, okay, what they’re saying doesn’t really match up with who they purport themselves to being.

And so if you put the messenger above the message, you position yourself for success because you’re understanding that you don’t have to follow the pied piper. Because if you blindly follow anybody, you never know where they’re going to lead you. But if you understand if that message in that direction of the leader is going to help you to get to your goals, you will succeed. You can never blindly follow anybody. Take everything with a grain of salt.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I think this dovetails nicely with another pre-show conversation we’re having about catching trends, right? Because let’s look at Tim Ferriss, for example, right? He preaches the four-hour workweek or that’s his book, right, that made him famous. Because that’s a big sexy thing for… You want me to work 1/10 of the hours that we’re supposed to work?

But there’s no way he actually does that, right? His podcast is like 3 hours long. I mean, unless he doesn’t count that as work, is he like cooking the books or whatever? So I think you’re right. The message inside of that big trend is put systems in place to work smarter but you had to put a sexy, trendy title on it, right?

And more recently, Dickie Bush, he was on the show, he’s obviously done a lot of great things, but his Twitter thread drives me insane. He talks about how if you want to make $1,000,000 in 12 months, all you have to do is make a product that people want to buy. And I’m like, “That’s obviously not true. It’s not true for you. It’s not true for anybody who’s trying it.” But the thing he’s doing is trending on $1,000,000 and getting people into his program to get people to believe that they can actually make $1,000,000.

Craig Chavis Jr.: That’s 100% true because the classic way to sell is a simple formula. You figure out what people want and then you create a product or service or an offer that is the vehicle to accomplishing that. So somebody who’s, you know, an expert or a guru like Dickie Bush will figure out that everybody wants to make money in business.

Like, the thing is, money to business is like breathing to life. Because the funny thing is that if you’re not making money, you’re not in business. Because I define a business as a system that consistently generates monthly recurring profits for a year or more, and anything less than that is not a business. It’s a side hustle. But profits are inherent to business. But we all know that people want to make money.

So knowing that people want to make money, then I’ll tie my message or my offer to that desired outcome and say that, “Hey, if you join my program, you’re going to get this money that you want.” So the desire, it already has to be there because you cannot create desire in anybody. The desire has to be inherent. But when you take that inherent desire to transfer that onto your vehicle, which is your product or your offer, that’s how you can quickly sell people.

The problem is, is that oftentimes the vehicle or the offer that people are selling never helps people get to that end destination that they’re promising. And that’s when the real issues arise. And this is when you have to have discernment as a creator. Because you can never blame the con man or the influence there for the lack of results because there’s no such thing as a contract that prevents you from, you know, losing money.

I mean, I experienced that when I wrote my book Burdens of a Dream, and I lost my distillery in Peru. I signed a fraudulent contract, but there was no duress. So therefore I was liable for any benefits or consequences that come with it. It’s the same with anybody who wants to start and grow their business. Just understand that any product or service that people are promoting, you have to discern whether or not that’s actually going to take you to that end destination.

And the first thing you should do is go back to what Joe was saying and figure out if there’s true alignment with the messenger and their message. And most of the time there is it. Most of the time people aren’t practicing what they preach and preaching what they’re practicing.

Oftentimes, people are giving you crumbs and they’re telling you to go right, but they’re going left. Or what they’re actually doing is ten steps ahead of what they’re telling you. So the real thing you have to look for is true alignment, whether that alignment is revealed through the authenticity and the vulnerability of the creator or the expert when they’re able to literally tell you that this is what I’m doing at this moment in time.

Joe Casabona: I like that. I like that a lot. And it makes perfect sense, right? It’s almost like saying, like, “Hey, you want to go someplace, get on my plane?” “Oh, well, where is your plane going?” “Well, like, where do you want it to go? I don’t know. I can take you wherever you need me to take you.” And that’s like, “How do you know how to get there?” You know, like that sort of messaging where it’s like, I can help anybody get anywhere. No one’s going to believe that, right?

Whereas if you, like you said, practice what you preach and you show people like show don’t tell, right? It’s really easy to show don’t tell these days. The last thing I just want to repeat that you just said was you cannot create desire. This is such a hard thing for people to learn. And it’s like it happens to you but when…

So, for example, I was seeing a health coach for a while and, you know, they were telling me like, “Oh, you got to take these shakes,” and like, “Oh, just do these exercises or whatever.” And I’m like, “I don’t believe these shakes are actually… I’m like, what you’re saying is like a miracle. I don’t believe that this is actually going to help me. It’s certainly not going to help me in the way that you’re going to help. But on some level, I wanted to lose weight, but I didn’t have the desire to go through with what they were telling me to do.

But this week I just started running again because it finally got to a point where the desire was there, right? And I’m going to do it the way that I know works for me, which is like eating better and going on a run. And I know I hate running, but it’s the lowest barrier of entry for exercise for me because I don’t need to like get any equipment or like turn on a video or whatever. I just put on my shoes and I put on a playlist and I run. So that’s the solution for me. But it took the desire a little longer to get there even though I knew on some level I had to do it.

Craig Chavis Jr.: 100%, man. This is a part of the journey to really, really building a sustainable creative business. Because I tell people there’s four steps to doing that. First and foremost is founder market fit. The second step is customer market fit. The third step is product market fit. And then the fourth step is systems market fit.

What we’re talking about right now is really customer market fit and really understanding who your target customer is, what they want, what are their pains, what are their desires, and then ultimately you figuring out a solution to help them solve that pain and give them exactly what they want.

But the reason why so many creators fail is that they’re trying to create a new desire or a new want that doesn’t exist. And it’s like if your target audience is a group of hungry people that want cheeseburgers, but you’re trying to sell them salads, it’s not going to work because they have no desire to eat a healthy salad. They want to eat a juicy, greasy, fatty cheeseburger.

So even though your creator business starts and ends with you, it’s really not about you because you have to really figure out what that weight is, you know, what that market demand is, and then you give them that thing that they want. But then, you know, after you get them in the door, then you maybe can give them what they really need. But you have to really figure out what that innate desire is first, and then you supply them with that.

Joe Casabona: I’ll give you an example of what I’m going through right now. We’re both going through rebrands, right? We’re going to touch on that. But I was under the impression that based on the independent podcasters I talked to, like I positioned my product as “I’ll help you make $10,000.” Make money, right? You said it earlier, every business wants to make money, right? I was like, “Oh, this is great. People will spend $1,000 to make $10,000.”

The problem for me is that $10,000… well, for podcasters who are making no money, it doesn’t matter how much I can promise them to make, they don’t have the $1,000, right? But I learned that some people who started podcasts, $10,000 is not a lot of money to them. So that’s a bad promise, right? That’s not their desire. Their desire is to leverage their podcast, to grow their audience, to build their authority.

And even though making money is the secret… maybe the smaller wave that follows the big wave, that’s not their desire in the moment. So now I’m positioning my program to help people build their authority through their podcast and how they can do it. That seems to be resonating… It’s early days still, but it seems to be resonating a little bit better. So it’s definitely not about you and what you think, right? I also made the mistake of like, Oh, you can make money without sponsors, but everybody I’ve ever coached is like, how do I get a sponsor?

Craig Chavis Jr.: Right.

Joe Casabona: All right. So I’m like, All right, I’ll show you how to get sponsors but then I’m also going to show you, like, maybe more sustainable ways to make money with your podcast.

Craig Chavis Jr.: 100%, man, because that was another tough lesson I had to realize with my positioning. Because, you know, everybody’s talking about marketing these days, like how to market, how to grow your audience but they don’t understand that marketing is the third ring in the run of, you know, your segmentation and customer acquisition. Because first and foremost, you have the position yourself. Then after you position yourself, then you have to brand yourself. And after you brand yourself, you have to market yourself.

My big issue was that initially, you know, I was targeting people that I called Solopreneurs. And that’s what they are. Solopreneur is anybody that has a business without employees. It’s just a company of one. The problem is, is that most people don’t want to identify with the word solopreneur, even though that’s what they are.

But all of a sudden, I kept saying this word creator, creator, creator. And what does creator mean? Well, I’ve defined a creator as anybody who’s sharing their expertise. But expertise is something that’s really, really nuanced because there’s a lot of people selling information, stuff that they know. But if you only value that information, it’s really, really not important. You’re really only an expert when you have information that other people want. And when people actually want that information so bad, they’re willing to pay for it.

So the problem I’m solving is that most creators are experts and they really know how to share their expertise, but they don’t know how to sell it. Because the fun fact is, every entrepreneur is a creator, but not every creator is an entrepreneur. Therefore, what I’m saying is that there’s a lot of people who are subject matter experts that are brilliant, but the thing that they don’t have is the business acumen to package, price, and sell their expertise consistently.

Well, for me, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve launched six different profitable ventures from scratch, starting out with my deejay and entertainment company at the age of 15. Then I had a profitable travel blog called I Nomads Then I launched a distillery in Peru. Then I successfully exited from my blockchain startup. Then I published and authored two internationally bestselling and award-winning books. And then now I’m this holistic business coach that helps creators to do the inner and the outer work to grow their business and consistently sell their expertise.

But the initial version of my business program was called the Solo CEO Club because I was just thinking everything from a business angle. The thing is, is that I realized the people that were attracted to me were these people that labeled themselves as creators, and they did not like the word CEO because they thought the word CEO was distasteful. You know, that CEOs are these big, bad-

Joe Casabona: Stuffy, privileged, yeah.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Exactly. Stuffy, privileged executives that are screwing the world. And, you know, creators are much more altruistic. So once I figure that out, because honestly, I think the word creator is very, very, very inclusive but it’s also very, very specific. I mean, a creator could be somebody like myself who’s a business expert. It could be somebody like you who’s a podcast expert. It could be a chef. It could be a consultant. It could be really anybody that has subject matter expertise. But the person that uses the label creator, I think they’re more altruistic and that there’s something deeper than just making money.

So therefore, I just understood, and through a mutual friend of ours, Jay Clouse, who is one of the people that I really, really respect in this creative space. He really put out a really awesome post that talked about branding yourself, you know, and having the target market in your brand. So, therefore, if I’m going after creators, I should have the word creator in my brand.

And the fun fact, Joe, is that I launched my business Cre8ive Craig LLC on June 16th, 2019. My freaking target market has been right in front of my face for the past four years, I just didn’t know it. I’ve always been a creative entrepreneur, I’ve always been a creator, but I didn’t know that my target market was really creators.

And now that I know that, and after I sponsored your podcast, I was like, “Damn, I really need to make this change and reestablish my position in the market so that I can rebrand myself properly.” And now I’m finally marketing myself the right way.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Gosh, this resonates with me so much because it’s so interesting, right? You have you… I think you mentioned in the pre-show you’re 33. Is that what you said?

Craig Chavis Jr.: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: I’m 37. You have a wealth of experience, right? I mean, it sounds impressive to me. I’m sure my resume probably sounds impressive to people as well. I started freelancing at like 14. I was making real money in high school and did it all through or whatever. But nonetheless, that sounds really impressive to me. You have a wealth of world experience. I have a lot of experience in my niches or niches, and I feel like we’re still continually learning this same lesson, right?

Like when I launched my online course site, which was called WP in One Month, which was a terrible name because it was like WordPress in one month and it was neither exclusively WordPress nor month-long courses, I rebranded to Creator Courses, which was a lot better. But my first course was a text-based course on how to launch a WordPress blog.

I was a known WordPress developer. I had published three development books at the time through an actual traditional publisher, and I hadn’t really made any real money with a blog, but I thought, “Well, I know how to do this.” And so I put the information out there and no one bought it. One person bought it. But then I put out a course on Beaver Builder, which is a-

Craig Chavis Jr.: What was that?

Joe Casabona: …a page builder, like you’re building a dam, which is a page builder for WordPress. Much more in my wheelhouse, right? I’m making freelance, I’m making sites for people. And that sold like gangbusters. Like that did really well. So finding your positioning based on your expertise and showing people you have that expertise is so important, and especially today.

I was talking to somebody recently and it was like they said the same thing I’ve been saying for a long time. It’s a lot easier for me to sell like a $10,000 thing to one person than like a $100 thing to 1,000 people-

Craig Chavis Jr.: That is so true.

Joe Casabona: Or yeah, 100 people.

Craig Chavis Jr.: That’s so true.

Joe Casabona: So it’s so interesting to hear you talk about this because, you know, like you said, we’re going through the same thing. Jay Clouse’s community is the thing that encouraged me to focus on authority-based businesses and then start into podcasting.

But I want to touch on your real-world experience here. You have a lot of tangible experience. You sit on boards and councils, you lived internationally for several years, you had a distillery, which is just wild to me because I can’t do anything with my hands. I can’t do anything in the real world. How do you think that helps you as a creator? Because as we’re going to touch on a little bit, you don’t need any of that if you have an iPhone and a TikTok account.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Oh, no, that’s a deep question. But everything goes back to my book, Burdens of a Dream. The book is essentially my entrepreneurial memoir that explains the business and life lessons I’ve learned along my entrepreneurial journey.

And the first words I wrote in the book were as follows. “This book is dedicated to all those who dare to abandon the status quo, follow the road not taken and discover the person they’re truly meant to become.” And so as much as I was writing those words to my readers, I was writing those words to myself because I understood that this entrepreneurial journey is deeper than making money. Like all people talk about is making money. But the thing is, is that as a creator, you know, your professional growth is a byproduct of your personal growth. And until you expand your cup, you can’t receive more. So you have to expand your mind first and then your business comes along second.

This is why, as a holistic business coach, I help you do both the inner and the outer work to grow your business. Because fun fact, Joe, you can’t get paid your worth until you charge your worth. But you can’t charge your worth until you first know your worth. So everything always goes back to self, to the creator.

And in my book I define an entrepreneur as anyone who takes a calculated risk to create something out of nothing and share it with the world. So that thing that a creator creates, it can be a product or service, but ultimately it’s the life that they’re living because your business is a life and you’re the product of that.

So for me, all my different business ventures that I’ve launched have just been a creative expression of who I was at that moment in time. As a teenager, you know, I was a deejay. I was, you know, up and coming no freestyle rapper. Then in college, when I got exposed to international travel, I became this aspiring travel blogger, hence I Nomads. And then after I joined the Pisco in Peru and learned how to distill Pisco, I became a distiller, hence my distillery.

Then, you know, after coming back to the U.S. after traveling over 30 plus countries, I launched my company Visajump, where we were the world’s first visa processing software, leveraged by blockchain, I actually exited from that startup. But for me, my manifestation there was this experienced world traveler that wanted to help other people to experience, you know, the power of living and working in another country.

And then when I had to move back to Ohio after my grandmother passed to have our family and I was lost, I became this published and award-winning author because I decided to share my story and really relive the memories that I experienced. And then now I’m this holistic business coach because I want to help people to get to build a business around their subject matter expertise and avoid a lot of the pitfalls, you know, that I’ve made, you know, throughout my, you know, 17 years’ experience as an entrepreneur.

So, for me, all this experience brings credibility. And like I said, the experience comes before the book or the experience comes before the content. And it’s not that I’ve seen everything and that I know everything, but if I’m going to help you to build your own profitable creative business, I should have experience with being a profitable entrepreneur.

You know, it’s pretty straightforward, but that’s why I always put the message above the messenger. And both of those things are aligned with me, and I’m credible and I know what I’m talking about. So that just gives my perspective customer base certainty that when they hire me or when they join my community, the Solo Creator Club, they know that they’re going to get information that’s really going to help them to achieve that thing that they want to achieve.

Joe Casabona: I like that a lot. And I mean, your path illustrates, right? You did something, you started a business on it, right? You experienced a problem firsthand and then you sought to solve that problem. And, you know, I know that there’s a lot of debate on whether or not you should dogfood your own product, right? That was a term that people used a lot in the early aughts.

But at the very least, you need to understand what problem you’re solving. And you can’t do that if you don’t at least experience it a little bit or like have somebody part of your business who experiences it, even if you’re… maybe you’re the business mind or the marketing mind. But you need somebody who understands the audience and the customer.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Well, can I interject real quick? Because this goes back to what I was saying before with my four steps to building a profitable creative business. You know, phase one is founder market fit. Well, founder market fit positions you for success because you have that credibility. Because in order to achieve founder market fit, I’ve defined as three variables.

Number one, your skills. So what are you great at doing? Secondly, your passions. What do you love doing? And then thirdly, market demand. Do people even want what you’re doing? And so when you could, you know, find a creator business opportunity at the intersections of those three things, you’re positioned for success. You have found a market fit.

But then the ironic thing about, you know, these three variables is that the most important variable is market demand because if there’s no demand for what you’re doing, nobody’s going to buy it from you. But then at the same time, you still have to be a credible person. And unfortunately, there’s so much bad information out there from a lot of our, you know, favorite LinkedIn and Twitter bees.

You know, I throw out a name, Justin Welsh and he always talks about that all you need to do to start a creative business is just to get a landing page and have a card or a card website and, you know, a Calendly link and or Stripe account. But that privilege comes from the fact that he has a massive, hot, and ready audience. So like, he could throw literally anything out on the landing page, and because people trust him, they’re going to buy from him. Whether or not he’s actual credible in that offer, people are still going to buy it because they believe in, you know, the Justin Welsh.

But for like a beginner creator who has no market traction or credibility, the best way to position yourself for success is to actually have that unseen or internal credibility with your offer or whatever you’re trying to sell, because that’s going to come out in your marketing and in your language, because people are going to understand that like, Okay, this person is speaking my language. They know me on a deeper level. They know my problems before I even say that.

Well, the only way that’s possible is because they’ve been where you’re going. I know exactly where every new creator’s going. I know exactly wherever every new entrepreneur is going because I’ve been there six times myself. Fun fact, I’ve coached over a thousand different creators in 12 different countries in four different continents.

And I’ve tabulated mathematically, and this is an underestimate, but not everybody’s going to send me their numbers, but I’ve generated over $5.7 million in revenue for my clients in the past five years just from what they’ve sent me, which is an understatement. But the thing is, is like I know they want to get to Mount Creator. I’ve been there, I’ve lived there, I’ve set up a house there.

But they know that because I can speak from experience that proves that I’ve already been on the path that they want to traverse. So therefore, just understand that like as even a new or even as an intermediate creator, you have to have credibility with whatever you’re promoting or selling because you do not have the audience’s trust or the reach just to put anything and everything out there.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, I love that. Justin Welch is a great example, right? Pat Flynn, I have a lot of respect for Pat Flynn and everything he’s done because he really did it like in the late 2000s, right? But, you know, he started on a YouTube channel a year or so ago called Deep Pocket Monsters and he’s like, “Here’s how you grow a YouTube channel to a million followers and whatever.” And I’m like, Be Pat Flynn, right?

Like, I can’t follow Pat Flynn’s playbook. I can’t follow Justin Welch’s playbook. I can’t follow Dickie Bush’s playbook. The work that they did… and like Dickie is a little bit better about like, “This is what I did, starting out to do my thing,” whether or not it’s still relevant today, right? Like Twitter feels like a sinking ship a little bit and people have gotten wise to the thread thing. I was talking to somebody and they said, like, if you’re starting on a trend that everybody’s already doing, it’s too late already. It’s like catching the wave well after it broke, like after it sunk down, right?

Craig Chavis Jr.: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Now you’re just a bunch of people in the ocean. I definitely respect what they did, but it’s tough trying to take them seriously talking to beginners when they have the platform they have. Again, not to pick on Justin Welsh because I’ve never talked to him personally, but he had a post on like, “Oh yeah, I priced my course at 150 bucks because I wanted to get as many people as possible.” And I’m like, You can do that because you have a lot of people, but like you’re essentially telling people to devalue their work, I think, if they have a good course that’s worth $1,000 to 100 people. Like I would not tell somebody to lower the price of their course. I would tell them to increase the price of their course. But I’m not Justin Welsh. Maybe he knows something I don’t.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Yeah. And this is why, you know, I titled my book Burdens of a Dream. I’m very, very intentional with the words I use because every person, every creator has a dream or a vision of having this profitable creator business. That’s our dreams. But the thing is we have to pay that burden or pay that cost to manifest that dream into reality.

One of the most popular chapters in my book is entitled Magic, and it’s an acronym for Manifesting Abstract Goals into Consciousness, a.k.a. putting in the damn work. But part of that work is being able to discern between what’s real and what’s fake. This is why I go back to my distiller mindset and I look for the principle in every message that anybody is putting out.

I don’t look at the technique because… we talked a little bit about health in our pre-conversation. But the thing, the reason why so many people fail at losing or gaining weight is because all they want to do is diet. But they’re failing because dieting is a technique. They don’t understand the principle of nutrition, which is simple, that the quality and the quantity of the calories that you intake will cause you to lose or gain weight. Therefore, any diet that you have is going to help you to accomplish that goal.

But when I look at myself, you know, from day one, I’ve been lactose intolerant. I’ve never drunk in any type of milk. I can’t. I’m allergic to it. So if I use a keto or a vegetarian diet, I’m going to get sick because there’s a lot of milk-based, you know, products in those diets.

My diet is that I’m a carnivegan. I eat really good meat and then I eat vegetables and fruits, but there’s not any lactose in any of it. So because I understand my dietary restrictions, I’m able to go back to that principle of nutrition to understand how I can best lose or gain weight. It’s the same in business. You have to understand the nutrition principles of business instead of following these specific techniques from any of these, you know, experts or influencers. And that’s going to better position you for success.

Joe Casabona: I like that. I like that a lot. We’re coming up on time here. I want to be cognizant of your time and the listener’s time, but there are a couple more questions I want to ask. So maybe we can make this like a bonus or a lightning round.

First of all, you’ve mentioned your book a couple of times. How helpful has that been in you getting new clients? Because I heard that a book is the new business card, but you’re not going to make a ton of money off of book sales in general.

Craig Chavis Jr.: There’s a truth and the fallacy of that. So the book has opened up so many closed doors, it’s not even funny. My book and workbook is in middle schools, high schools, and universities. The State Department, about 5,000 copies of it.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Craig Chavis Jr.: It’s the thing that has gotten me into so many doors because it’s a really, really simple product that is easily disseminated to an audience. So the book and the work, because it establishes so much credibility and has established me as an expert in the entrepreneurial and creative space. I think for anybody, you know, to write a book, if they have the bandwidth to do so. I mean, marketing it and selling it as a whole different ballgame. But if you can do it the right way, like I have, oh, man, it’s like he trampoline to a bigger and better paycheck.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, I like that. It’s very much in the front of my mind because I’ve written a bunch of books. None on podcasting, though. And so, like, I really want to do that this year. And I keep going back and forth with, Is it worth it? Is it not worth it? But I think I can do it. I’m very adept at writing a lot quickly so I think I can make it happen.

Okay. So these last two are a little bit heady, but, you know, if we can get the good soundbite, right?

Craig Chavis Jr.: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: It’s easier than ever to just create. We’ve been talking about this this whole time. I told students at my high school alma mater recently, well, you could just turn on your phone and record a video and post it on TikTok, and now you’re a creator. Like you go from consumer to creator at that point. But when does it become a business?

Craig Chavis Jr.: A creator is anybody that shares their expertise. A business owner is somebody that sells and shares that expertise. So until you start making consistent money from your expertise, you don’t have a business.

Joe Casabona: I like that. And where do most creators struggle when it comes to turning into/running a business?

Craig Chavis Jr.: They struggle with building a business in the first place because people think that just because they have a website and a social media page and content that they have a business. But until you have a system that’s generating consistent monthly recurring profits for a year or more, you don’t have a business, you have a side hustle. And until you understand that, you do not have a creative business.

Joe Casabona: I think that’s a really important distinction, right, because, you know, you can say like, “Oh, well, you need an LLC. Well, you need an accountant. You need…” But you need to be making money and you need to have a plan in place. I always like to poo pooed business plans because business plans are just like guessing. But that doesn’t mean that you just go in like half-cocked, like, Oh, I’ll just sell whatever I can. You still need to understand how you’re going to make money.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the South Park episode, the YouTube South Park episode, where like all of the big memes or the big trendy videos like Chocolate Rain and the dramatic gerbil or whatever we’re like in this waiting room saying, like, “I have 10 million theoretical dollars.” And I’m like, “What does that mean?” And they’re like, Oh, well, I got all these views on YouTube, so that’s going to make money somehow. And still it’s easier today on YouTube, but I think a lot of creators still think like, Oh, I’ll just post on YouTube, I’ll go viral and I’ll make money.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Well, you can’t build a business off virality. Virality is de facto unsustainable. It’s uncontrollable.

Joe Casabona: Right.

Craig Chavis Jr.: But a real business is controllable because I know for the next 12 months I will be generating, you know, 4 to 5 figures each and every month. But in order to get that, I would have needed a year of data to be able to forecast that. And I’m going to hit my best quarter ever, I did hit my best quarter ever because we’re about to go into Q2, but it’s because I have a consistent and predictable business model that I’m managing.

My business has now turned into ATM where I can inject X amount of dollars into marketing and know that I will get X amount of dollars in profit at the end of that marketing injection. And until you can do that, you don’t have a business. And virality is a thing that can break your business because there’s a thing is growing too fast and you don’t want to grow too fast. You want to control your growth.

Joe Casabona: Absolutely. I heard an anecdote that like most freelancers, entrepreneurs they don’t starve to death, right, they die by overeating.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Oh.

Joe Casabona: Yeah.

Craig Chavis Jr.: I like that.

Joe Casabona: So you panic, You take on too much work, you can’t handle that amount of work, and then, you know, you lose jobs or you burn out or whatever. So that has always stuck with me. So you want to make sure to grow the right way.

Craig, this has been such a great conversation. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Craig Chavis Jr.: Well, two places. You can go to my website And you can follow me on any social media @cre8ivecraig. But then to learn more about the Solo Creator Club, you can go to www.jointhescc.

Joe Casabona: Fantastic. And I will link to those and everything we talked about in the show notes over at That’s 313. It should be in your podcast player, right? So open that up, look at the description, find the links. Craig thanks so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Thanks so much, Joe. And I’m also excited to be meeting you in person in a couple of weeks at the CEX Conference.

Joe Casabona: Yes. As this episode comes out, we will have already met. So it was great meeting you.

Craig Chavis Jr.: Yeah, man. Excited, bro.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, me too. Me too. And thank you to everybody listening. Again, if you want to catch that pre-show where we talked about creating deadlines and putting yourself into a corner, business is like surfing and putting the message above the messenger, you can sign up at that same link,, there’ll be a link to How I Built It Pro, five bucks a month or 50 bucks a year. But thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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