Startups for the Rest of Us Notes 2015

Startups for the Rest of Us

Episode 218 | Our 5-Step Process for Answering Emails, Managing Your To Do List and Staying Productive

Date: 2015-01-06


Only check email once or twice a day.

Turn off all email notifications.

Do it. Delegate It. Delete It.

Quickly distill articles down to actionable items.

Try to get in and out of your inbox as quickly as possible.

Have “A” and “B” to do lists. B list is super low priority.

Work off only one list (the A list).

Everything on your list should be super specific and super actionable.

Aspire for inbox zero but realize it is not always feasible.

Episode 219 | The 10 Advantages of the Start Small, Stay Small Approach

Date: 2015-01-13


Map your goals out month by month.

Funding is not the only way to start a startup.

During your workday being able to pick and choose what you’re going to work on is a huge, huge win.

With a funded startup your work hours are basically as many hours as you can possibly work.

There are a lot of different dimensions to location independence.

If you do the right work then that work can pay off for a long time.

Staying small means lot less overhead–both financial and management overhead.

Stay as small as possible while supporting as many customers as possible.

One of the fun parts about being small is that you can move quickly.

Episode 220 | Our Biggest Failures in 2014, Pros and Cons of Domain Expertise, and Documenting Your Company Roadmap

Date: 2015-01-20


It is amazing how far you can take something.

Too much domain expertise can make you blind to things.

A roadmap should be higher level and longer term.

Insert additional touch points in the trial (prior to them cancelling).

You can generally get up and running with an independent contractor a lot quicker than you would with a firm. It is also going to be a lot cheaper. The problem is how to find good ones.

If you’re not in San Francisco don’t hire out of San Francisco.

Episode 221 | Updates on HitTail, Drip, AuditShark and More

Date: 2015-01-27


Seagate drives have the worst longevity out of all of the major drive manufacturers.

Book: On Writing by Stephen King

Book: Smart Cuts

Have goals in front of you at least every few weeks.

If it isn’t working then you need to switch tactics.

Have a general concept of whether you are on track (on your goals).

Work out backwards how to get to your goal.

Think about how your business would look with ten times the revenue.

Try to push all of your calls to one day a week.

Article: Maker Schedule vs. Manager Schedule by Paul Graham.

It is a harder marketing landscape than it used to be.

Episode 222 | The Stair Step Approach to Launching Products

Date: 2015-02-03


Book: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe

An example of a single-traffic channel is one that gets all of its traffic from SEO.

The benefits of step one is getting a little revenue and learning the process.

It can be a lot easier to sell something that is a one-time sale.

You are getting experience writing marketing copy.

You can’t just jump up to the hardest task right away.

Step two is two repeat step one until you own your time.

Step three is a recurring revenue app.

If you want to build a revenue stream then having one-time sales isn’t going to do it.

The stair step approach isn’t about building a brand or building an audience.

Learning these skills is the key to building a customer base.

Step four is having multiple SaaS apps but very few people or companies are able to maintain that.

Success is not something you can say is going to happen.

Episode 223 | What to do when your partner quits, defining success and charging more for a self-hosted app

Date: 2015-02-15


Book: Innovators by Walter Isaacson

Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Make sure your partners put in the same amount of time.

Success is being able to make decisions with your time in a way that makes you happy.

A person cannot be happy without relationships.

Success should be measured internally.

Episode 224 |Should a Non-Technical Founder Learn to Code?

Date: 2015-02-17


There is a big difference between a SaaS app that is simple and one that is a lot more complicated.

There is a lot of low hanging fruit that has been taken out of the SaaS market.

You need to be able to learn enough about how to code in order to ask the right questions and to be able to see if someone you have working for you knows what they are doing.

You need to figure out which type of person you are.

Episode 225 | How to Run a Paid Advertising Campaign

Date: 2015-02-24


Know what your target cost of acquisition is.

If you don’t have a lifetime value of at least $100 then it is hard to do paid acquisition.

Retargetting is something you want to have in place before running paid ads.

You don’t want to go through the process of trying to optimize before you start.

Give more time to (setting up paid acquisition) than you think you need.

To start pick a single channel and educate yourself on it.

Only test one channel at a time.

Document things.

As a rule you can’t post an ad and expect it to work forever.

Do not trust the metrics they give you.

Facebook and Twitter use “engagement” which is not necessarily a conversion for you.

Episode 226 | Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Churn (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Date: 2015-03-03


Churn is the percentage of people that cancel in a given time period.

Revenue churn is a better metric than customer churn.

Involuntary churn is when a customer’s credit card expires.

Higher-priced point customers, while tougher to land, do not churn out as much as lower-priced customers.

You have to fight the first sixty day churn differently than the post sixty day churn.

1.5% is a typical enterprise SaaS monthly churn rate.

The obvious way to reduce churn is to improve your product.

You can get rid of people who aren’t a good fit for your product by just raising prices.

Another way to reduce churn is to get people using your product through onboarding, emails, free concierge services, making your product intuitive, having a guided wizard, and gets them to their minimum path to awesome.

Get metrics into your user’s inbox. It reminds them of the value they are getting out of your app.

Episode 227 | How to Deal With Haters

Date: 2015-03-10


The first type of hater is a bean counter. They count your expenses for you and make you afraid of what you are doing.

The second type of hater is expert spectator. They look at the things you are going through and learning and dismissing them as obvious and asking why you are wasting your time and effort doing them.

Feedback can be constructive assuming it is communicated well.

Don’t speak to people that are toxic.

Episode 228 | 9 Must-Read Books for Founders

Date: 2015-03-16


Book: Traction

Each chapter of Traction covers an approach for marketing your startup.

Book: Remote

(Remote working) is about the kind of people you hire. If you can’t see somebody you don’t know if they are working but even if you can’t see them how do you know if they aren’t sitting there playing solitaire.

Book: SaaS Marketing Essentials by Ryan Battles

Book: Work the System

It is so much easier to have a document people can go to if they have questions about how to do something.

Book: The Ultimate Sales Letter

Book: The Ultimate Sales Machine

Book: Zero to One

Book: The Guide to the Good Life

Book: Essentialism

Episode 229 | 8 Years to Overnight Success with Phil Derksen

Date: 2015-03-24


Josh Kaufman’s list of the best business books. (

Stress is a good motivator.

The further you get down the higher-paying career path the harder it gets to take a risk.

(Starting your own business) is the journey more than anything.

Book: Getting Real

It is important to have goals and to celebrate them.

Launching (writing copy and crafting the launching page) always takes longer than you expect.

Episode 230 | Being Married to a Founder: The Spouse Episode

Date: 2015-03-31


When you are a founder you have a lot of autonomy and flexibility in your life but it doesn’t always translate one you add in the other dynamics of a family and other commitments you have.

Have a Sunday meeting to go over schedule for week.

As a spouse you have to realize that your partner didn’t just wake up and say, “I’m going to start a business today.” It is ingrained in who they are.

Communication is key.

Everything is possible. So much of your life is determined by what you want.

Episode 231 | Breaking through SaaS Plateaus with Ruben Gamez

Date: 2015-04-07


The first plateau is higher if the price point for the product is higher.

Getting to product/market fit is harder than you think.

When it is just you you need to focus on one thing.

You need to get enough volume (of trials) before optimizing.

You can’t optimize your way into a $10,000 a month business.

You are probably not going to get pricing right when you launch.

It the first few weeks or months is when you need to be testing pricing the most.

You can forecast when you are going to plateau.

Unless businesses have zero churn they are going to plateau at some point in time.

Episode 232 | How to Design a Killer Client Demo

Date: 2015-04-14


The best way to learn to code is get a 40-hour a week job coding and to have a mentor.

Use GoToMeeting and WebEx for doing a demo.

Gotomeeting isn’t good for recording a demo.

Make sure you use a USB headset.

Start the demo by letting the other person to talk. Let them describe their problem in their own words.

Large enterprises want to know a product has a history.

You want to know what the stage is before you get on the call.

If you can ask questions prior to the demo is the ideal scenario.

Gather as much information about the target customer as you can before you get in there.

Show a sample customer (ideally with a picture) who has problems very similar to the person you are talking to.

At the end of the day it is all a numbers game.

It helps to have concrete answers ready ahead of time.

There are going to be people who have their own agenda when you get on the call with them.

At the end of the middle section is when you really want to get into how your product works. It is not enough to talk them through a hypothetical scenario.

You need to prove it.

Never respond to a pricing request with pricing information.

Episode 233 | 7 Takeaways from MicroConf Vegas 2015

Date: 2015-04-21


Relationships are crucial.

If things are going wrong and nobody notices–things are going great.

If you have a product you need to find your fit first (before you start marketing).

Buttons matter. Test them in conjunction with headlines.

Even if things are best practices you still have to test them.

Don’t make big decisions when you are not at your peak level of performance.

HALT – Don’t make big decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired or sick.

The most important SaaS metric that no one talks about is profit.

You don’t have to spend money. You can just keep it.

If you are catering to everybody you are catering to nobody.

Episode 234 | Eight Things We Wish We Knew When We Started Out

Date: 2015-04-28


Sending products out manually is a logistical nightmare.

Play long ball. Think in years rather than months.

You can’t skip steps in the learning process.

Relationships are important.

Having people to connect with make the journey more enjoyable.

Establishing trust is a critical step on your marketing path.

Certain products have one natural marketing channel and most of the time you shouldn’t spend time looking for others beyond it.

If lifetime value is less than $120 it is going to be hard to invest money in acquiring customers.

You almost never want to sell a new product to a new audience.

Community is everything. It is hard to get by completely on your own.

The more you learn the harder it is to make decisions sometimes.

You are never too old to be an entrepreneur.

You are never too old to start something new.

Knowing what you want or need is never as important as knowing why you want or need it.

It is the journey that is important.

Quitting while you’re ahead is not the same thing as quitting.

Episode 235 | When Is It Time To Level Up?

Date: 2015-05-05


When revenue has flat-lined it might be time to move up.

Growth is not necessarily an end goal for everybody.

If you want to level up one choice is to sell your current app. Another option is to put somebody else in charge of the app.

It is really, really hard to do two things well at once.

Episode 236 | Making a Full-Time Income With Online Training

Date: 2015-05-12


(With infoproducts) there is no ongoing support.

There are many ways to do the solopreneur lifestyle.

You keep more profit when you self-publish but you do a lot more of the legwork in regards to marketing, sales, and customer generation.

There is no replacement for talking to your customers.

Episode 237 | The Biggest Roadblocks to Your Success

Date: 2015-05-19


It is always a good idea to keep in mind who you are targeting (with regards to copy and web design).

Lack of a clear goal

Not having a clear goal and knowing what you want to do makes it difficult to figure out where you are headed and what you need to do to get there. It also decreases motivation.

Solving the same problem over and over again gets boring.

If you have no product or product idea your number one goal should be to validate a product idea and start working on it. Then it should change to getting revenue for that product. Then it should change to a dollar amount. Then you should multiply that.

Your goal changes over time.

If you don’t have something you are working towards it really is a roadblock to your success.

Building a product before finding customers

There are some products you can build quickly that you don’t need to validate. The validation is you put up the landing page and start charging people.

The days of sitting in your basement and writing code for six months is over.

Lack of focus

Work backwards and develop a plan to get to your goal. Create a timeline. Making it a step by step process to getting there is going to keep you from wandering.

Focus the media that you consume.

Figure out if you are being distracted. If you are figure out why.

You have to build a plan.

Unwillingness to move out of your comfort zone

It becomes way harder doing everything yourself

A lot of people are afraid of doing things because they are afraid they might fail at them.

You shouldn’t be afraid of failing at things you should be afraid of not trying them.

Having an unhealthy consumption to production ratio

Go on a media diet.

Stop reading and start acting.

You cannot possibly learn everything yourself. It is good to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Working yourself into the ground

Don’t work until you have health issues and try to work through them.

Work in sprints then back off and give yourself time to recover.

Entrepreneurship is long ball.

You have to be aware of where you stand emotionally and physically.

Get natural sunlight every single day.

Recognition is more than half of the issue.

Episode 238 | Email List Building From Zero to 1,000: Part I

Date: 2015-05-26


An email list works in so many situations.

People don’t usually go to your site and click the buy now button.

0-10 Tier

You have to have a basic idea of what your value proposition is.

You have to set expectations and be able to deliver on those expectations.

You have to know what you are using the list for.

Have an email crash course or do a top ten tips.

You have more lead way with a email course than with a free ebook.

Ask your friends and colleagues and send them your basic value proposition in email and ask them if it would be something they would be interested in hearing more from you about.

You only want people on your list who are going to have some type of interest in what you are doing.


In this tier you need to start iterating on your value proposition and start using more landing pages.

Start engaging with people on your list. Start asking them, “What are your challenges with X?”

Draft a welcome email or autoresponder series where you introduce yourself and try to start delivering value to your subscribers.

Keep the list warm.

Collecting your list doesn’t do you any good if you don’t email them.

Have your emails come from you.


This is where things start getting a little harder.

You need to start adding automated questions to your auto-responder.

You have to wait until you start receiving replies from people and then you start crafting message directly related to the challenges people are having. You can’t know those things in advance.

Start adding more emails to your evergreen sequence or you start doing more campaign emails.

For a launch list email once every six weeks.

Ask your subscribers to share the fact your mailing list exists with their friends.

Adding a p.s. to your email signature can help drive traffic.

Episode 239 | Email List Building From Zero to 1,000: Part II

Date: 2015-06-02


Every marketing approach is intended to drive traffic somewhere.


Leverage existing startup lists.

Have stuff that is specific for non-trial users that pitches and links to your trial signup page.

Leverage a contest or giveaway.

Give people an additional chance to win if they get other people signed up (for your contest).

Contests and giveaways likely will do better in a B2C offering than in a B2B offering.

There are tons of other social networks you can leverage (outside of the big ones).

If you’re going to leverage social networks you need to post content pretty regularly.

Content marketing and social marketing go hand in hand.

Do what you are gifted at doing.

Leverage other people’s (or company’s) networks.

Recognize if you audience is going to overlap with theirs and if you are going to provide enough value to them.

Paid advertising is something you want to stay away from until you understand what your leads are worth to you.

There is a real value to meeting someone in person.

Make sure each page has a single function.

In many cases the function of a page is to get their email address.

Episode 240 | Podcasts for Startup Founders

Date: 2015-06-09


Listen to podcast episodes at 1.5x to 2x speed.

Bootstrapped Web (Motivational & Tactical)

Bootstrapped with Kids (Motivation & Entertainment)

Founder’s Journey

Product People

Rogue Startups (Motivational & Tactical)

Startups For the Rest of Us

Tropical MBA

Zen Founder


Nights & Weekends

Zero to Scale


The Rocketship (Motivational & Tactical)

Seth Godin’s Startup School

Startup (Entertainment)

This Week in Startups

The Art of Paid Traffic (Tactical)

Conversion Cast (Tactical)


Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Kalzumeus podcast

Episode 241 | Why Entrepreneurship Is the Logical Path With Guest Taylor Pearson

Date: 2015-06-16


Book: Becoming Steve Jobs

Book: Jobs

Book: Daily Rituals

The overall market share is getting smaller for established players.

There is more opportunity for individuals.

We have a local bias.

A rising tide raises all boats.

As more people come to WordPress there are going to be more potential customers.

The glass ceiling is disappearing and so is the glass floor.

Episode 242 |Startup Accelerators, Working On vs Working In Your Business and Hiring a Developer as a Non-Technical Founder

Date: 2015-06-23


If you don’t want to grow to be a hundred million dollar company then you probably don’t want to be in an accelerator.

Go with a big name (if you are going to do an accelerator).

It is hard to stay motivated and that is when the batch approach of accelerators can be a good thing.

Doing a task that you will never have to do again is working ON your business.

Are you creating a process or doing the process? <- The definition of working on versus working in your business.

Episode 243 | The Tools We Use to Run Our Startups

Date: 2015-06-30


Team Communication:








Customer Communication:

Help Scout




Get Drip

Hit Tail










WP Engine


Sprout Video


New Relic





Upwork (Odesk)


Back Office:


Get Ambassador

Go Daddy

Episode 244 | Competition, Transparency and Funding with Baremetrics Founder Josh Pigford

Date: 2015-07-07


Transparency for transparency’s sake is kind of gimmicky at this point.

Use (transparency) to tell a story.

When you are growing it is easy to get ahead of yourself.

Ignore the hype and start poking around AngelList to find angels who want to help out.


Profitability is the goal.

Build a business rather than slide decks.

Copycats motivation is just to make a quick buck. They won’t be around in a year.

Episode 245 | Tips for Fighting Stress and Anxiety as a Founder

Date: 2015-07-14


Save up money and pay for the vacation up front.

Think about the big picture of what is going on. Identify the things that are stressing you out and understand and recognize the different signs of that stress.

Stress leads to procrastination and is a vicious cycle.

Identify what the stressors are. Write down all of the things that might be stressing you out and what about that particular thing is stressful.

There are certain type of stress you can just ignore them. An example is negative blog comments.

Avoid some things entirely. Don’t overcommit.

Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can early and as you go along you have to start switching that up to yeses and nos. At a certain point no becomes your default answer.

Outsource things.

See if you can eliminate the source of what the stress is.

You’re not tied to your current product if you are an entrepreneur.

Focus on the positive elements of what you are doing. Make sure they are realistic.

Don’t hang on to everything.

Book: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

Not knowing what is next freaks a lot of people out.

Episode 246 | 9 Reasons Why People Won’t Buy Your Product (And How to Fix Them)

Date: 2015-07-21


Don’t go too much into the features too quickly or else people won’t understand the value they will get out of it. You can’t just go after benefits either.

The headline should be a promise rather than a description.

Start with a benefit (promise). Then text that digs down into how it does that (but not features yet). Then some testimonials or press links. Then dig into a couple of features in bullet points or short snippets. Three to six features on home page.

Use “you” language on home page.

Also have a full features page.

Targeting traffic is hard. The less traffic you send to your homepage the better. Send more traffic to individual landing pages that look like your home page but with the headline changed to something that hits with the traffic source.

You can morph your pages to talk directly to an audience.

People might not trust that you can deliver on the promises that you are making on your homepage or landing page. To get around that you lead nurturing. Offer something very small in exchange for an email address.

It is hard to tell how long lead nurturing is going to take.

There is going to be an incumbent in whatever market you enter into.

The biggest competitor to most bug tracking software is spreadsheets. If it works well enough then why would somebody change?

You have to show not just incremental value but a dramatic savings in time, a dramatic savings of money, or how you can make someone a lot more money, or how you can remove a pain from their life. You have to figure out what that pain is and really go after that.

Remove the pain of switching from whatever they were using to using your software (even if you have to manually enter data for them).

Asking someone to sign up for your service is asking them to do work.

Send emails to new users with their onboarding tasks. Have a walk-through or guided setup.

Use something like retargeting to bring people back.

Collecting email addresses and then not emailing them for three months is the worst thing you can possibly do.

You can ask on your sales page, “Have you tried a bunch of other products and they haven’t worked for you?”

It is hard to not overprice something if you are not also delivering the value.

Don’t drop price. Add value to it.

Episode 247 | Valuing People vs. Valuing Process

Date: 2015-07-28


Trust people not process.

Have really good people and let them run it.

Know your goals up front.

Hire as good as you can.

Any tasks that involves a high amount of creativity or is extremely complex is hard to turn into a process.

Error on the side of valuing people.

Episode 248 | 14 Ideas for High Impact Lead Magnets

Date: 2015-08-04


Do not take business advice from somebody who does not have good work/life balance.

Five to seven day email courses work really well. It gets a subscriber used to hearing from you on a regular basis.

Some markets might be oversaturated with email courses and they might be valued less than an ebook.

An email course helps to promote trust and establishes you as an expert in the industry you are promoting the email course on.

A top ten tools list are easy to put together.

Give away a free training video or walk-through of something.

A single video is becoming less valuable.

Keep your video pacing as fast as you can.

An ebook should be 40 to 200 pages.

A swipe file is a collection of ideas.

Do a case study which is a deep dive into a particular problem with a before and after.

When deciding what lead magnet to create ask what the goal of that lead magnet is.

Episode 249 | Finding Your Competitors’ Customers, Pre-validating a WordPress Plugin, How to Hire a CTO, and More Listener Questions

Date: 2015-08-11


Go after businesses because they are going to be more likely to pay you than other group.

Having broad appeal is bad early on. You really want a narrow, narrow focus so you can get a small group of people in there that love, love the product. From there you can branch out and go broadly later.

Freemium off the bat upfront is going to hurt more than it will help.

Do not build your own storefront.

Validation is about gathering information.

With a WordPress plugin you cannot validate it until you build a free version.

Ship small, ship often, and ship all the way to production.

If you don’t have product market fit then your trial sign up to paid subscription pipeline is going to be approximately zero.

Once you find a scalable business model you need to execute.

Episode 250 | 10 Ways to Use Engineering as Marketing

Date: 2015-08-18


Book: 80/20 Manager

Find your unique selling proposition.

Think if there is a free version of your product you can offer.

See if you can show a demo of your product’s abilities.

Show the benefits without forcing the commitment.

Show–not tell.

Advertise your product through your own customers.

Use a microsite to tell a story.

Use a public demo.

Implement a referral program of some kind.

Anything you do like a Powered By logo is very powerful.

Episode 251 | Email Marketing Demystified with Matthew Paulson

Date: 2015-08-25


Many people don’t realize the ROI on email marketing.

We think our customers are just like us. It turns out we are not our customers. You cannot assume your customers are just like you are. Our customers might behave a different way with email.

If somebody signs up for your email list that means they want to receive emails from you so you should probably send them some emails.

A good email now is better than a great email never.

Every day you are not sending out an email is a day you are losing a sale.

The format of the lead magnet matters less than the content in the magnet.

Try to get people to whitelist you or add you to their contact list.

Try to sell one of your products on your thank you page.

Episode 252 | The Unconventional MVP with Jesse Mecham

Date: 2015-09-01


People in the know have the curse of knowledge. They say, “I can build that.”

A lot of times when you build first, with this clear green field in front of you, you have trouble making decisions because you have so many options.

You don’t want to know the end goal. You just want to know you should stay on the path you’re on.

The smaller the problem the smaller the solution.

Superniche is easier to market.

Start super small.

Book: The War of Art

Episode 253 | Key Takeaways from MicroConf Europe 2015

Date: 2015-09-08


Productizing a consulting service is not for everyone.

Your past and origin story can really shape where you are headed.

When you are onboarding your customers talk to every single one of them.

You don’t want to build yourself a job. You want to build a business.

Episode 254 |  Planning Your Move from Day Job to Product

Date: 2015-09-15



Have a runway of some kind.

Make sure you don’t have a lot of debt when you are trying to start a business.

Debts basically weigh you down. It can make it much more difficult and stressful to start a business.

Figure out your number (the income you need to be able to quit your job).

Get buy in from other people in your life:

If you share finances with someone else that is somebody that needs to do the buy in.

Put together a spreadsheet with estimates of how long it is going to take to build what you need:

Most people don’t have any concept of how long it is going to take to build what they are building.

Excel has a function called Workday.

The further away you are from something the more difficult it is to estimate it.

Take any estimate you have and add an order of magnitude to it to make it accurate.

Have one person commit to you for paying for your product:

This is standard customer development.

This is getting a commitment and validating it up front.

This is before writing code.

Then get ten people to commit to paying you.

Try to create a demo or screenshot but all you need is a list of bullet points.

Start building your launch list.

Get that first paying customer:

This is when you have a beta version that does something and does it well enough that some person says they are willing to take a leap on you.

You’re not going to have a perfect product from day one. You want to start getting that feedback so you can have conversations around some of the deficiencies of the product.

Actually launch:

Launching is your third of the way point.

Do not comp the app to everybody on your interest list.

Get that first customer post launch from a cold lead:

This is where you are working towards your “quit the job” number.

You are doing things that aren’t repeatable but you’re trying to figure out how to make them repeatable.

Hitting 50% of your income:

This is where your net profits are half of your number needed to quit your job.

Hitting that full income number needed to quit your job:

Decimate your expenses.

You’re not going to have enough time before you hit your income.

This is where your runway becomes super important.

Episode 255 | Moving on From AuditShark

Date: 2015-09-22


As a founder/CEO you need to be the first salesperson.

If you tend to move from project to project you should probably stick with things longer than you feel comfortable with.

You should probably be working on something you enjoy rather than something you don’t.

The enterprise space is very much relationship driven.

You can technically pivot forever but at some point you have go to call it quits.

There are certain cases where the answers are not so cut and dry.

Health issues obscure motivation issues.

The enterprise market is much more relationship driven than anything else.

Not everything turns out they way you want it to.

Episode 256 | The 10 Elements of Highly Effective SaaS Landing Pages

Date: 2015-09-29


Design it for first-time visitors

You want visitors to go down a very specific path you have outlined for them.

Customers who are coming to log in will find the login box. Don’t make it prominent.

For first -time visitors you are trying to educate them, get their interest piqued, and then get them to take the next step in the action.

You have to make an assumption that a visitor to your site knows absolutely nothing.

The number one goal of your website is not to get somebody to buy your app but to get somebody to come back to your website.

Returning visitors are between six and twenty times more likely to purchase from you. Very few people purchase on the first try.

Have a great headline

Make a promise in the headline. Then have an action verb. Then have a directly stated “you” or an implied “you”. So you talking directly to the person reading.

Have at least one visual element at the top of the page

Have the visual element either next to or below the headline.

If you use a video then it should be less than 90 seconds.

Provide a couple of benefits

List three benefits.

Stay grounded (with your benefits).

Don’t go so high level that it doesn’t make sense anymore. Don’t say “saves you time” or “makes you more money”.

You don’t want to overwhelm someone on your homepage with every piece of information you can possibly have.

Social proof

This is not optional.

Testimonials from customers. With headshots if possible. Edit the testimonial down to just the core part.

Press logos.

Put a vanity metric in there.

Those are essential trust factors. You have to give people proof (to trust you).


Features that set you apart. “These are things nobody else has” or “These are what are customers like most”.

You have to be very specific.

On the website somewhere you need to have a features page.

Limit the number of links or buttons on the page

Limit the amount of things to do as a user reads through.

Put everything else in your footer

If you want people to sign up for your course don’t put it in the footer. And don’t put it in the header. That is your call to action. Use a javascript widget and have it pop up at certain times.

Have a sitemap in the footer.

Upfront you don’t need a sitemap but longer term, as your product gets bigger and bigger, you probably do.

Episode 257 | Mistakes Founders Make in Getting Traction

Date: 2015-10-06


Book: Traction

You want to start the traction effort right at the beginning of product development.

When you’re testing traction efforts you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it. It is about finding the niche to focus on for when you launch.

You should have beta customers but it is not enough.

Almost everyone has the same availability bias consequently almost no one is testing these underutilized channels.

Go talk to failed founders in your space.

Where a lot of people fail is they don’t brainstorm deep enough.

See what other people are trying.

The first step is identifying tests you can run on each channels.

Don’t run a test longer than a month or for more than $1,000 except under extenuating circumstances.

The type of business that you want is not necessarily the type of business you end up with.

Episode 258 | 9 Common A/B Testing Mistakes

Date: 2015-10-13


If you’re going to start A/B testing really figure out where you can make the biggest impact on your sales funnel. Don’t just randomly test things on your website.

Have a methodology that you follow.

Your test needs to run long enough to be statistically significant.

Having one hundred conversions coming through (is a good length).

Split tests are not foolproof.

Most test you run are not going to show significant differences.

You don’t want to ignore small gains if they are statistically significant.

Run one test at a time until you feel comfortable with it.

It is hard to learn anything unless you have a goal in mind.

Be careful you aren’t accepting everything as fact.

Episode 259 | Making Your First $2k from Products, Whether to Look For a Co-Founder, Rehabbing an Existing Product, and More Listener Questions

Date: 2015-10-20


Your work expands to fill the time you give it.

You have to pick and choose which battles you fight. Some will be worth it and some will not.

The last thing you want to do is learn on a big-time production app.

You don’t want to buy a company because company comes with liabilities. All you want to do is buy the product or the assets of a company.

Episode 260 | What is the One Metric That Matters?

Date: 2015-10-27


Tracking one metric encourages focus.

If you look at too many metrics is just becomes noise.

If you are pre-launch the a good metric is how many email addresses you can get on your list.

You want to be identifying metrics for a very specific reason.

If you don’t have a timeframe then it is a vanity metric that is worthless for the business.

If you are able to compare (the metric) to other time periods then that is when it becomes meaningful.

The metric has to change your behaviour.

Episode 261 | Interview with Nathan Chan of Foundr Magazine

Date: 2015-11-03


When you’re starting out getting a single tool on your toolbelt can be very valuable for a first-time entrepreneur.

Produce something every single day.

Relentlessly attack whatever you are focusing on.

You have to follow up.

Episode 262 | 13 Signs You Should Kill an Idea You’re Validating

Date: 2015-11-10


Celebrating your goals adds longevity to what you are doing.

Validation is not something you should just do once at the very early stages of building a product.

The more you talk to people the easier it gets later on.

99 times out of 100 you will not get the value proposition right the first time. It is just too ambiguous until you have talked with dozens of prospective customers.

It is really hard to develop a two-sided market as a bootstrapper.

If you can’t get somebody to pay you up front then you really have a problem.

Episode 263 | Per User Pricing for SaaS, Drip Email Sequences for Freemium, and SaaS Subscription vs. Commission Pricing

Date: 2015-11-17


Trying to make money charging ten pounds per year is insane.

In most cases you are going to use the best tool for the job.

Using languages like Rails or Python–it is easier to find developers.

In a SaaS scenario you want to be charging people on a recurring basis if the value of your product goes up over time.

With a freemium product you are trying to get them to activate.

Episode 264 | How to Identify New Product Ideas

Date: 2015-11-24


Don’t prematurely invalidate ideas. By doing that you are not only crossing that idea off the list but every potential variation of that idea of the list.

Start by considering specific market verticals or people to server.

Put your ideas in a notebook and save them.

If you have a lot of ideas it doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them are good.

Things that require virality–if you’re going to bootstrap it you’re looking at a longshot.

Competing against free can be somewhat difficult.

You need to ask people upfront, “what are the deal breakers?”

Validation is hard and it is not an exact science.

You don’t want your optimism to overpower warning signs.

It is a balancing act.

Like anything else it is a learned skill.

Episode 265 | The Absolute Bare Minimum You Should Know About Segmenting Your Email List

Date: 2015-12-01


You’re going to have a marketing list (people who have not signed up for a trial or downloaded your product). They are hanging around for content.

The second bucket is a trial user. Your goal there is to nurture them through the trial path to become a customer.

The third stage is someone paying you.

The fourth stage is someone becoming a repeat customer.

The marketing list you want to be educating about your space or your industry.

Don’t attach downloads you offer to an email as spam filters will catch it.

You don’t want unqualified prospects in your funnel.

Overtime big email services know if people are opening your email. If they will not they will move you to promotions and eventually spam.

Lead scoring is mind blowing. It tells you how engaged someone is with your marketing, website, and your emails.

The number of people you onboard highly correlates with paying customers.

Think about what you can offer your best customers that makes them feel like you are giving them exclusive access to something.

Treat your customers like it is a relationship. You have to give and not just take.

Everybody on your list is a person and it is about building a relationship.

Episode 266 | How to Cope with Hard Times

Date: 2015-12-08


One of the first things that happens when company come on hard times is they start cutting services

It is hard to make decisions based on current information.

Due diligence can fail pretty quickly.

Reflect on the situation. Realize that everything is not your fault but you should take responsibility for the things that are.

Take responsibility for as much as you can handle.

Accept that you have limitations.

Recognize that everybody makes mistakes. You’re not going to go out and be successful at everything you do.

If you’re not willing to make mistakes you’re not going to learn and grow as a person.

Ask, “what is the worst case outcome of the situation?”

Remember you are not alone in the world.

Map out appropriate course corrections.

Ask people for help.

Episode 267 | How to Structure Your SaaS Support Team

Date: 2015-12-15


If you are one person doing support the best way to get started off of the bat (is to do support from Gmail).,

Help Scout

Email is stage one. The founder or founders are doing all of the support.

You’re going to want to improve the product and respond instantly.

(In your early days) one of your advantages over the big companies is your speed of doing things.

(When there is a problem) people are going to be more willing to stick with you if you have done the right thing in the past.

Hiring a tier one support person is the second stage.

Put issues in a Google doc.

When in doubt give the customer what they are asking for.

If people are trialing your product they are wondering if it is going to work for them and if they need help and you are not able to help them then it is likely they won’t convert. for screensharing.

Both WebEx and GoToMeeting have a free account.

Episode 268 | How to Set Annual Goals

Date: 2015-12-22


(When you give an infoproduct away for free) put a price on it to communicate the value if it had not been subsidized by the business.

You can’t put a price tag on a white paper or something you put out that is not valuable because that will come back to bite you. It negatively impacts the brand.

SMART method of setting goals.

Make the time to set your annual goals.

Make them a priority and not an afterthought.

Recap the current year.

Limit yourself to one or two major goals.

Most of us overestimate what we can get done.

Identify specific ways you can hold yourself accountable.

Identify your emotional triggers.

Recognize if you are de-motivated. If you don’t recognized it is a problem you can’t do anything about it.

Being in a new environment tends to spark creativity.

If you’re not enjoying the journey along the way then you’re not going to enjoy the destination when you get there.

Set up a reward system for meeting your goals.

Episode 269 | Our Goals for 2016 (Plus We Review our 2015 Goals)

Date: 2015-12-29


Hire your first support people hourly.

You can use Upwork or Hubstaff.

Goals need to be measurable.

Be more deliberate about where you spend your time.

Work less and enjoy your off-time more.

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