Creating a Business Based on Passion, Community and Inspiring Others: with Guest Richard Conner

Welcome to episode 19 with guest Richard Connor, the host of Inspire to Run Podcast. Richard is a strategic marketing professional with nearly 20 years’ experience in B2B marketing. He’s a Connecticut native and a husband, dad, Star Wars fan, and runner. Richard discovered obstacle course racing and has fully embraced this new obsession.

He’s the founder of Inspire to Run Podcast and is passionate about helping others reach their goals. Listen to the full episode to hear how Richard started and grew a community of runners during the pandemic and how it led him to starting a business based on his passion for running and helping others.

Find the full episode and transcript at[00:01:00]

You’re listening to Richly Successful Solopreneur with host Christina Renzelli, helping you learn to trust your gut and follow your heart so you can set your business up for success. Podcast episodes will help you build better business relationships, network in an authentic way and learn to love selling as you grow your business beyond the time for money model.

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Richard: Hey, Christina, I’m happy to be on the show and happy to be the first guest. And I

Christina: also want to thank you for your help in getting all of the tech set up because I’ve never done a recorded interview with a, another solopreneur or guest. So thanks for all your help.

Richard: Yeah, you’re, you’re welcome. I’ve podcaster myself, so I know what it’s like. So happy to help a fellow podcaster.

Christina: Thanks for your mentorship. So, um, you’re technically a podcaster turning solopreneur, which is usually. Maybe the opposite way that, uh, some other solopreneurs do podcasting. So why don’t you go ahead and tell us your story of how you started your podcast [00:03:00] and how that’s leading to a business.

Richard: Yeah, yeah, of course. So thank you for the opportunity, you know, just. Before I get to the point of the podcast, so everybody knows I’ve, you know, I’ve had a marketing career for almost 20 years. So I’ve had a nine to five in a corporate environment and I’m also a runner. So, you know, I took a bunch of years off from running after high school and then got back into it a few years ago.

And, you know, I’ve really enjoyed running and telling my story. about just what it’s done for me, you know, mentally, physically, and just kind of in my life, the impact it’s made for me in my life. So, you know, during COVID, I was really looking to do something in addition to my nine to five and start some sort of community.

And I was like, you know what? I could do something in marketing where my experience is, but I love to do more, um, around something that’s just, I’m very passionate about that’s outside of marketing, which is running. So that’s kind of what led me to create a community around running and start a podcast because what I wanted to [00:04:00] do is not only share my story, but I wanted to share the stories of others.

And doing that through a podcast has been, you know, it’s a great channel to do that. And it’s been such a joy. So that’s. You know, a little bit about me and that’s kind of a little bit about what’s led me to just even start the podcast. And I would say that when I started it, I had no idea where I wanted to take it.

I just was like, you know, I’m just going to hit the record button and go. Um, so that’s what I was saying. I know what it’s like to kind of start with a podcast or start with guests. But, you know, over time, which I’m sure we’ll get into over time, I started to figure out the value that I could bring to the running community through the podcast and You know, potential ways that I could use it as to start a business.

Christina: Yeah. And I bet you a podcast was a great thing to start during the pandemic to bring a sense of community into your life and to other people’s lives.

Richard: For sure. Cause we’re all disconnected. Um, you know, we couldn’t see anybody and everything was [00:05:00] virtual. It was zoom. And, and that’s actually how the podcast started.

It started as inspire virtual runs podcast, and it really capitalized on, you know, having the virtual community. But one big change for the running community during that time is we couldn’t run races in person. So virtual races were all the rage back then and I was like, you know what, that’d be really great for me to, you know, kind of incorporate that into the podcast and tell people, Hey, just because it’s COVID and we’re kind of stuck in our houses and we can’t see people doesn’t mean we can’t stay active and have, you know, a little bit of fun and run together.

So, so it was really cool. So that’s kind of how it all started, you know, kind of during a difficult time.

Christina: Yeah. That’s a great story. I’m sure you had a lot of listeners that were grateful that you started the podcast.

Richard: Yeah, for sure. And, you know, I’ve reached out through all my communities to, to kind of promote it and bring people together.

And, you know, so yeah, it was, it was a lot of fun and [00:06:00] now I’m looking towards like the future, but I learned a lot during that time. Um, but I will say that, you know, the, the interesting thing about podcasting is it was a great way to share my voice and my story and the stories of others. But, It wasn’t as easy to get feedback, right?

Because it’s one way. So, you know, after a period of time, that’s when I really started to figure out, you know, I really need to be more present on social and, and other ways to get that two way communication. Whereas, you know, the podcasting world, it’s, it can be just one way.

Christina: Yeah, you can. That’s also why I wanted to open up to guests, um, to make it more fun and interactive.

So tell me about how you’re about to start a business based on your podcast.

Richard: Sure, sure. So, you know, having a marketing career and product development career, I really wanted to just. Do [00:07:00] research first. I really want to understand my target audience. I want to understand what are their needs? What are the problems that they have?

And how could I address that? Or what solution could I bring to the market to address it? And I realized that through all of these interviews that I was having all these conversations I was having, I started to turn back into like a researcher, student of, you know, what got somebody into running in the first place or what were their challenges along the way and how did they overcome it?

Like that was happening through the conversations. And over time I realized like, Hey, I could package a lot of this and offer it back to the community in a couple of different ways. One is, You know, in, I guess, free resources that would be available to everyone in the form of lead magnets, right? If we’re talking about a business in the form of lead magnets, um, and then others would be paid resources.

Um, and the free resources were your basics. It was couch to [00:08:00] 5k. Uh, and then some of the things that. I had learned kind of through my journey through the to the conversations, but it was really stuck on. Well, what’s the paid part of it? And I really went back and forth about, is it kind of the getting paid through sponsorships or getting paid through kind of the community through?

You know, products and services. So I went through a long period of kind of going back and forth there. Cause I was really kind of at first, I didn’t really want to do advertisements. Um, but then I was like, well, do I really want to do products and services? Because, um, I had certain requirements about what I wanted this business to look like.

I’ve been doing, you know, a nine to five executive kind of job for almost 20 years or actually more than 20 years at this point. I didn’t want to trade time for money going forward. I wanted to be able to build something that didn’t require me to, you know, to trade time for money. So having all of that in my mind, I think it’s taken me probably a little bit longer than a lot of people to figure out like [00:09:00] how to turn it into a business.

Cause the easiest or one of the easiest things you could do is consulting or coaching. And I’m like, okay, well I could do that. But again, that would require me to show up at a certain place at a certain time, you know, every day or every week. So, so yeah, so that’s just kind of my thought process in terms of how I went through it.

But I’ve really kind of settled on a few things that I’m looking to do to kind of turn it into a business. So first is I’ve changed my thinking around sponsorships and advertising. Um, I build great relationships with great brands that serve the running community. Uh, many of them are local companies, you know, smaller, smaller companies, not like the big corporations that, um, you know, I’ve worked for in the past and they serve local communities.

I love that about them. So, you know, I’m looking to develop relationships and partnerships with them and then, you know, kind of go the advertising route. But on the other side, I’m looking to offer resources in [00:10:00] the form of digital courses, as well as coaching, um, which is one of the things I didn’t want to do, but I think I found a way to do it.

That kind of meets my requirement. Uh, and those are kind of the big things that I’m looking to do to really kind of convert this into a business.

Christina: Wow, that sounds exciting. So people will be able to ask your advice for running and you’ll be able to coach them and they can maybe take some of your

Richard: courses?

Yeah. And the idea is I’ve learned so much through all of the interviews. So I’m rapidly approaching episode 100 and I’ve have over a hundred interviews recorded. So I’ve learned so much through these interviews. And what I’m looking to do is just package, you know, the key things about what I’ve learned and my own experience.

Into something that’s a standard course that everybody could take. And you know, there could be different levels, right? Depending on if you’re just starting out or you did your first 5k and now you’re looking for the next step. But then after that, [00:11:00] I’m looking to have some sort of service that enables you to.

Ask questions as you’re going along your journey, stay accountable. Um, and then there might be some other benefits that you get from it. And, you know, just, just touch on the accountability piece. This is actually part of my story where I signed up with a coach a few years ago with the intention of just tell me what to do and I’ll just do it.

Right. I’m pretty self motivated. You just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. But what I’ve realized is that coach has helped me keep accountable. And also pushed me to do things that I’ve never done before and pushed me beyond what I thought were my limits. And I’m hoping to repay that and help others in the community kind of in the same way.

Christina: Yeah, I can imagine that’s a big part of it. The accountability piece. And I imagine that’s also why you started the podcast. Yeah. Have other people running with you. Seems to keep you accountable and on track.

Richard: Well, I share my story. So yeah, if I say I’m going [00:12:00] to do something, then I got to show up. Right.

And if I don’t, I gotta, you know, be upfront about it. So through these conversations, I don’t do as many solo episodes, but through these conversations, I do share a little bit about my story, my journey. Um, and then I do some solo episodes. It’s kind of like life updates and kind of what’s going on with me specifically.

Christina: Wow. Okay. So how can listeners get. Ahold of you if they want to maybe join your program that you’re creating.

Richard: Yeah. So the best places to find me is on Instagram. So inspire to run podcast on Instagram. You can, um, DM me the word kickstart. And you can get a free kickstart guide, and that will help you kind of get started on your journey.

Again, I put in what I’ve learned, uh, through, through the conversations, as well as through my own journey in there, um, with some resources. And then, you know, that gets you on our mailing list and that kind of keeps you in the loop about what’s going on with Inspire to Run podcast and [00:13:00] as well as the, the resources and products and services that I’m looking to launch.

Uh, you know, fingers crossed within the next few months.

Christina: That’s exciting. I’m going to probably try to get on that. Um, I’m going to DM you kickstart so I can find out I might want to start running now.

Richard: There you go.

Christina: All right. So as you’re the first guest, the way I’m going to structure these interviews.

Podcast episodes is going to be first part about your business. And the second part is just a little coaching segment. So is there anything that I can help you with, with regards to starting your business?

Richard: Yeah. You know, so like I said, the whole process of figuring out, you know, where to start is, has been really challenging because I had put all these requirements on myself and then it just.

You know, I had a hard time just getting started. Right. Because I’m like, well, I have five [00:14:00] things I could do, but how do I know which is the best thing to do or the best thing to start with? So, you know, I could share with you some of the ideas. I already shared a couple, but I could share with you some of the ideas.

And, you know, if you could, I guess at first help me a little bit. Um, you understand where would you think would be a good place for me to start? Um, would be a good place for me to,

Christina: yeah, that’d be great. So tell me what your ideas

Richard: were. Okay, so the first one was around the digital course, and the digital course is going to be based around the three pillars that I talk about on the show, mindset, movement and motivation.

And the reason why I want to start there is for two reasons. One is I feel like There’s just this baseline of information that everybody should have. And this is a good standard way of sharing that. But also I think what differentiates this course is the mindset and the motivation part, because I see a lot of courses out there or a lot of offerings that really focus on the movement.

And when I say movement, it’s the actual running, it’s the nutrition, [00:15:00] et cetera, et cetera. So I feel like it’s unique and different with, um, by talking about the three pillars. But I’m sure there’s others out there that talk a little bit about mindset. Um, so that’s the digital course, but that’s going to be investment and time to build all of that.

Record the videos and then, and then go through that. So that, that’s number one. Okay. Um, do you want me to go through all of them first? Yeah, yeah. Go through all of them. Okay, good, good. Um, so the second one is coaching. So I mentioned that I didn’t want to trade time for money, but I realized that I think there’s a lot of value in me offering coaching services.

And instead of doing one on one coaching, what I, what I’d like to do is do group coaching. And I think that that would allow me to have a positive impact on a larger group. Like it’s a little bit more scalable without, you know, taking up. A lot of time for one, a one on one slots. And if somebody wants a one on one slot, then I have my running coach who is, I’m also an affiliate of, and then I would refer them to my [00:16:00] running coach or one of his trainers.

So that’s, that’s the second one is kind of that, um, okay. Group coaching group. Um, yeah. So the third one is sponsorship. So I’ve done a lot of work building relationship with, um, with. With brands. Uh, I brought a few brands on the show. I’ve made, you know, some really good connections with some brands and, you know, that’s, that’s really a good one again, I think to get gear and other products in front of my running community to help ’em along their journey.

Right. So I’m, I’m, mm-hmm. working with or connecting with brands that I think can make a real positive. Impact on my running community. So I put a lot of time and effort into building those relationships and pitching potential sponsors, um, to, to eventually get, you know, sponsored for the show. So, um, so that’s the third one.

And then I would say the last one is merchandise. Okay. [00:17:00] So I see a lot of, you know, I won’t say a lot, but I see many podcasts out there, um, with merch. Um, and I see within the running community, merch is pretty popular. So one thing I’ve been thinking about is do I develop my own merch, which I’ve already kind of piloted some things or tested some things, or do I partner with companies and, you know, kind of co brand?

Um, with merch, so that’s, that’s another area that I’m thinking about. So those are kind of the four areas. And again, I’m, I think I have an idea of where I would want to start or where it would be beneficial, but there’s pros and cons to each. So if you could help me kind of work through that or how should I think about that?

Christina: Okay, so my first question would be, what makes you most excited of those four choices?

Richard: Ooh, that’s a good question. You know, I’d have to say the course makes me the [00:18:00] most excited and nervous at the same time. Okay.

Christina: We’ll start with the course. Tell me what makes you nervous about it first.

Richard: Um, what makes me nervous is that it’s an investment in time. It’s an investment in tools. It’s investment in time, um, putting together the program, doing the upfront research, not knowing what the outcome of that’s going to be once you get to the, the end of that road.

So that’s what makes me nervous. But what’s makes me excited is I know I have really great information to share with, um, with the community. And this is what I like to do. I like to teach. I like to speak. Um, so this is… I can hear

Christina: the excitement in your voice when you talk about it. Yeah.

Richard: So that’s what makes me excited about it because I actually, I love to do it.

I want to do it. Um, so that was out of the four things that probably makes me the most excited.

Christina: Okay. I wonder if you could do the course. But [00:19:00] as a group program first, just to kind of test it out and then maybe even record it as you, as you teach.

Richard: Oh, okay. So I can see how it’s received as I’m going along.

Christina: Yeah. And then it’s almost like you mentioned before, one of your hesitations was all the work and planning and recording. But what if you did that as a group

Richard: program? I didn’t think about that.

Christina: And then, and you have it all done. So you have two, so that’s your most, well, you’re most excited about the digital cores, but also you could do that group coaching in there just for maybe one round.

I know a coach is not supposed to give advice, but I just got excited about that idea.

Richard: No, but no, but first you helped me, you know, in terms of [00:20:00] what got me excited, which is the course, but also helping overcome one of the barriers, which is, you know, the not, the not knowing, like, how do I get that feedback sooner?

So I do really love that idea. Yeah.

Christina: And it sounds like you have a lot of people that would want to be in that group.

Richard: Yeah. I mean, that’s the hope, you know, so I have a, I have a. You know, relatively small Facebook group that I have today. So, you know, it’s a lot, it’s a few folks that are posting and a lot of folks that are watching, but I would want to start there and engage everyone to participate in this and in a more of an interactive way.

So that would be, you know, kind of a way to do that.

Christina: Yeah, this sounds exciting. You could launch it as a group, even record it and create your program as, as you go. With the group. I love

Richard: that.

Christina: And then you could do the merchandise and the sponsorships that will follow.

Richard: Yeah. And you know, that was kind of my idea that the, the merchandise kind of would [00:21:00] come, you know, a little bit later on, even though I started it.

So I have a few, you know, a few things that I’ve already made and I wear it in my races and, you know, just to kind of see what all of that is like, but I just feel like, you know, there’s, even though it could be, it could compliment. You know, my brand and the podcast, it’s not my main offering. So I want to start with something that’s like, what’s going to bring the most value to the community first.

So that, you know, in my mind, that was kind of what’s most

Christina: exciting. Yes. Yes. Yeah. I always feel like you have to go with your heart because your brain can give you all the reasons why it’s too hard or scary. I would start with that. What your heart tells you to do.

Richard: Love it. I could do that.

Christina: All right. Does that feel good?

Yes. All right. So I’m sure there could be some listeners that might want to join that program. So, um, keep us updated.[00:22:00]

Um, all right. Well, thanks you so much for being my first guest and my podcasting mentor unofficially, but, um, also maybe officially.

Richard: No, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity. Like I said, I like to talk. I like to share my journey, but I like to help others. And I think, you know, when I typically introduce myself, some of my core values is really centered around helping others.

You know, you’ll see it in my Clifton, uh, Our strength finders from the Clifton strengths, as well as, you know, some of the activities that I like to do. So, you know, helping you getting your podcast and all of that, but yeah, love doing it.

Christina: Yeah. Well, I really appreciate it. All right. Richard, it’s been great talking with you about this.

I’m excited for your business and I’m going to tune into your

Richard: podcast. All right. Thank you so much, Christina.

Christina: Oh, and by the way, have a great run tomorrow. I heard you’re in a race.

Richard: Yeah. And the weather’s good. Hopefully the storm doesn’t come this way, but it’s going to be [00:23:00] cool weather and I’m ready to go.

This is my last big race of the year, so I’m looking to do well there and then share my journey. You know, very soon on the show.

Christina: Yeah. Well, have a great race. And thanks again for being on the podcast.

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