Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies — Allen Walton and SpyGuy, The Path to Seven Figures (#351) - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss (2024)

Posted on December 10, 2018October 21, 2020 by Tim Ferriss


Topics: Categories4-Hour Case Studies, The Tim Ferriss Show

Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies — Allen Walton and SpyGuy, The Path to Seven Figures (#351) - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss (1)

“And then I wake up at 7:00 a.m., and I roll over and look at my phone. And I have a notification from Shopify saying that I made my first sale for $149. And I let out this huge, org*smic noise of relief. I was like, ‘Wow. Everything’s going to be okay.’”— Allen Walton

This episode is by popular request!

In detail, we uncover a real-world case study of someone who built a seven-figure business after reading The 4-Hour Workweek (and other resources, of course).

Two important people joined me for this jam session.

First is Allen Walton (@allenthird), founder of SpyGuy, an online security store based in the Dallas, Texas area. Walton struggled in high school and spent a few years playing video games before his mom made him apply for a job at a local surveillance chain, where he worked from 2009-2011. He became interested in starting his own business after being exposed to The 4-Hour Workweek. In 2014, he went out on his own and started SpyGuy, his current business. He built the business to $1 million in revenue on his own, relying on what he learned in books and podcasts, and it now brings in seven-figure revenue with five employees.

The second person joining me is journalist Elaine Pofeldt (@elainepofeldt), an independent journalist and speaker who specializes in careers and entrepreneurship. She is the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want, in which she looks at how entrepreneurs are scaling to $1 million in revenue prior to hiring employees.

In this episode we explore the specifics of key decisions, helpful tools, early mistakes, and much more, all leading to a business that has exceeded all expectations. I had a blast doing this one, and I hope you have a blast listening!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or on your favorite podcast platform.

You can findthe transcript of this episode here. Transcripts ofall episodes can be found here.

#351: Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies — Allen Walton and SpyGuy, The Path to Seven Figures

Want to hear a conversation with an entrepreneur who sold his company for $800 million? — Listen to Braintree and OS Fund founder Bryan Johnson’s rag to riches to philanthropy story (stream below or right-click here to download):

#81: The Rags to Riches Philosopher: Bryan Johnson's Path to $800 Million

This podcast is brought to you byFour Sigmatic. I reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It ismushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode?Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below forlinks and show notes…


  • Connect with Allen Walton:

SpyGuy | Personal Website | Twitter

  • Connect with Elaine Pofeldt:

Website | Twitter


  • How Elaine Pofeldt and I first met. [05:10]
  • Who is Allen Walton? [06:35]
  • Why did Allen make the switch from overworked and under-appreciated employee to entrepreneur? [07:33]
  • How did Allen come across The 4-Hour Workweek? [11:51]
  • What were Allen’s first steps toward building his own business? He shares early notes about fear-setting and the DEAL framework. [13:18]
  • Did Allen keep his full-time job while working on his own business as a side hustle, or did he go all in? [17:32]
  • What were Allen’s next steps toward getting his brand and products in front of people in a competitive market? [20:32]
  • What books and resources does Allen recommend to people who are trying to carve out their own business niche and be seen by potential customers? [21:57]
  • While pulling all-nighters and taking product images for his first website, what albums did Allen listen to on repeat? [27:50]
  • What it was like for Allen to finalize his website and make his first sale. [29:02]
  • As a married man, how did the conversation with his wife go when he decided to start his own business? [32:12]
  • Allen describes his chaotic inventory storage situation in those days and the process between a customer placing an order to having it delivered. [34:55]
  • What are ePackets and FBA sellers? [43:22]
  • How did Allen select the products that would comprise the majority of his initial inventory, and what human edge did he have over the competition thanks to his retail experience? [45:32]
  • What led to Allen hiring his first employee, and where did he look for the ideal candidate? [49:35]
  • What Allen learned about managing a team not long after he hired a second employee. [54:59]
  • Given retrospective advice from his future self, how would Allen’s hiring process for that second employee have gone differently? [57:42]
  • Job boards Allen recommends for finding quality remote workers. [58:42]
  • A books Allen recommends to anyone on the path to become a better manager. [1:00:17]
  • Aside from hiring an unqualified friend, what other early mistakes did Allen make? How might hiring the right employees help alleviate these mistakes, and where would he find them? [1:01:13]
  • Conferences recommended for e-commerce networking that are actually worth a damn, and tips we have for maximizing their effectiveness. [1:04:17]
  • How did Allen handle targeted monthly income, dreamlining, and lifestyle goals when he first got his business going? [1:09:28]
  • A lot of Internet retailers operate on Amazon; SpyGuy does not. What is Allen’s reasoning behind this decision? [1:12:51]
  • Allen wants to begin manufacturing his own products under the SpyGuy brand. What does that process look like right now? [1:15:20]
  • Tools Allen has found helpful for automation and greater efficiency. [1:16:45]
  • Dire third-party logistics (3PL) problems Allen and I have both faced. [1:20:36]
  • How does Allen most efficiently manage his time? [1:23:07]
  • What is the criteria for products Allen wants to start manufacturing first, and what kind of customers does SpyGuy primarily serve? [1:26:33]
  • Allen tells us about the time his company assisted in a child predator case and the media attention surrounding the event. [1:28:23]
  • The mixed blessing of product demand spurred by The Today Show and regrets about SpyGuy’s biggest day of sales. [1:34:12]
  • Highlights of Allen’s journey so far he would never have predicted at its start. [1:36:52]
  • Podcasts Allen recommends. [1:39:15]
  • What does Allen hope to accomplish over the year ahead on business and personal fronts? [1:44:27]
  • Final thoughts. [1:47:15]


Related and Recommended

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than one billion downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies — Allen Walton and SpyGuy, The Path to Seven Figures (#351) - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss (2024)
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