Episode 270 | Our Predictions for 2016
Book: Habit Stacking
Twitter is an opportunity for cheap clicks.
Single round bootstrapping (“fund-strapping”) will become more common.
Twitter will become less relevant than it is today.
Episode 271 | Lessons Learned Analyzing 250 SaaS Pricing Pages
It boils down to what type of business you want to run and how much time you want to spend with each customer.
When in doubt have three pricing tiers so you have price anchoring.
By the time you get to a pricing page you should already be sold on the benefits.
Put names that have meaning to your pricing package.
Episode 272 | Planning For Your Imminent Demise
Have a will or living trust.
Have a document that is accessible to someone that outlines the business.
That document needs to contain everything that is needed to know to take things over.
You need to have somebody you designate that you trust.
You don’t want it to be online unless it has some really extensive encryption.
The tough part is keeping it up-to-date.
Have a calendar reminder to update the document once a year.
Have an up-to-date list of services you use and what you use them for. You can maybe pull this from credit card statements.
Make sure the basic accounting stuff is available.
Selling a business is not going to be an overnight thing.
Episode 273 | Company Identity, Using Accountability Emails, and SaaS Project Management
People remember what you do–not who you are.
Figure out what the other person is going to be interested in.
Always opt for platform-as-a-service at the start.
All deadlines are going to go out the window and all price estimates are going to go out the window.
Episode 274 | How to Mentally & Technically Prepare For Your Launch (With Guest Derrick Reimer)
You feel like you have a lot more time than you actually do.
If you are launching a major new feature then sit down and try to think about how this feature affects other features in the app, onboarding, and other flows that already exist.
Get features in front of customers early on.
It makes customers happier when they can figure things out on their own and when things are intuitive.
If you are putting it off then maybe just set a deadline in public. It can force you to make some tough calls in the end.
Stress doesn’t go away when you launch.
Episode 275 | How to Influence Decision Makers on Your Pricing Page
Highlight a default plan for your user.
Enterprises are not going to sign up for (smaller plans).
If you try to do too much on your page it is going to hurt the level of signups that you get.
If they are enterprise they probably want to see a demo before they do anything else.
You can deemphasize other navigation options (on your pricing page).
Mitigate the risk to the user for signing up.
With trial length go as short as possible so you can run the most split tests.
Give refunds. Chargebacks are expensive and a pain.
On the pricing page if you are displaying FAQ questions then make them relevant to the pricing tiers.
How to use a product or specific feature should not be on your pricing page.
Episode 276 | Handling Failed Payments, Cold Calling, and Staying Accountable
If you are at any sort of scale you are going to want to get somebody to help out and make phone calls (to people whose payments fail).
The effectiveness of cold-emailing is going down and will continue to do so over time.
Never start two projects at once.
Don’t try to grow two things at once.
Episode 277 | Five Ways to Structure Your Startup Mastermind
Book: Productivity Project
You get more traffic and more leads on Medium but they are less qualified.
The roundtable approach.
It depends on what stage your business is at.
You can use time slots.
You can have a short hot seat. Everybody gets a chance to talk but one person gets a longer time on the hot seat.
You can use a moderator.
If you’re going to moderate then you’re not going to be one of the participants. You need some kind of compensation.
Episode 278 | How to Build and Launch a Membership Website
Does the topic warrant a full membership site or is a video course or ebook a better way to go?
If it provides more value over time then is can be a membership site or something with a subscription fee.
Starting a membership site when you don’t have a community in advance is going to be really hard to do.
If you are going to have forums you need to have people in there interacting otherwise it is going to look like a ghost town.
People come for the content and stay for the community.
Think about a plan to spur conversation.
A weekly discussion topic is something to think about.
Forums don’t tend to grow and thrive by themselves.
Don’t start a membership site without a list of at least a couple thousand people.
If you have nothing to talk about there is no community.
Episode 279 | How Google’s New Search Results Will Affect You
(The SEO) game is constant and ongoing.
SEO is helping Google understand the content of your website. If you do too much to help Google understand the content of your website then you get penalized for it.
Google has a load of amazing free resources such as Google Search Console.
There is so much information on SEO that it is difficult to find a trusted source.
It is pretty scary doing SEO.
Episode 280 | The Productivity Project with Guest Chris Bailey
When somebody describes themselves as a thought leader that is a pretty good indicator they are not.
Productivity is not about how much we produce. We can be on email all day long and not accomplish a single thing.
It is what you do with the hours of your day that matters.
It is so easy to look at the idea instead of the cost of something.
Not all tasks in our work are created equal. Not all hours in our day are created equal.
Attention is the rarest commodity we have but it is not the most limited commodity we have.
The less guilty we feel about our work the more productive we feel.
Work expands to fill the amount of time you have for it.
It is hard to remember what is important throughout the day.
More things don’t work than the things that do.
No thought is permanent.
Episode 281 | Tools You’ll Need for Your Bootstrapped Startup
If you’re spending more than $50 a month for any one tool then you need to take a hard look at it and ask if it is necessary for your business when pre-revenue.
The only things that are absolutely critical are web hosting and payment processing.
Do not spend more than $200 a month across all of the tools you are using.
Push off legal and accounting stuff as long as you can.
Gusto for payroll costs $40 to $50 a month.
Buy tools that do the job that you need done, not tools that you see other successful people or or business are using.
Buy what you need now not what you are going to need in the future.
Episode 282 | The Long, Slow SaaS Ramp of Death
It is always going to be slower than you want or slower than you expect.
No matter how fast you are growing you want to grow faster.
Try to establish some sort of virility for your product.
You’re not going to really grow until you find product/market fit.
Target a community of users that have a large word-of-mouth online.
Picking an audience can be a large contributor to growing faster.
Info products are exceptionally easy to sell to audiences.
Having an audience can be super powerful but it can also leave you with high expectations on how many of those will actually convert.
Have realistic expectations for the start.
Take some time to reflect.
Episode 283 | Stair-Stepping Into a Different Audience
Sidekick allows you to see who opens your emails.
Book: Snowball (about Warren Buffett)
Step one is launching a one-time product.
Step two is to repeat step one multiple times until you own your time.
Step three is recurring sales.
High lifetime value for your customers might not be possible in a particular niche.
It is not common for WordPress plugins to have a subscription model.
Try to avoid selling a new product to a new market. What you want to do is sell a new product to your existing audience or an existing product to a new audience.
Try not to build a brand new product in a new niche because that is when it takes years to get that snowball pushed up the hill.
If you are going to be leveling up then you need to take on more responsibility. The ideas are going to be larger and more competitive or more complex.
Don’t pick a market because you think it is interesting. Pick it because your existing competence gives you an advantage.
Be deliberate about choosing your next idea based on skills you have already developed and whether they are going to work in that new market.
Episode 284 | Key Takeaways from MicroConf 2016
The hallway (conversations) are as valuable as the notes from the talks.
The first thing you should think about in your development cycle is improving a feature. The second one is getting more people to use that feature. The third thing is getting people to use that feature more often. The fourth thing is to build another feature.
Think about how you can gain trust rather than get more money.
- Be early to a space
- Who you know (your network)
- Who knows you (your audience)
- Growth expertise
Flip-flopping between funding and bootstrapping for the same business is bad because the priorities are so different.
Have world-class churn (2-3% range) before you scale.
If you are above 10% (in churn) then your business is no fire. (not in a good way)
Episode 285 | How to Make Your First Hire
Stay with part-time and contractors as long as you can.
Find people that are really good at a single skill and then fire yourself from the job they are doing.
Hiring is a learned skill.
Interview multiple candidates.
A bad hire is orders of magnitude worse than no hire.
Experienced people are a lot more expensive but they can hit the ground running.
Going from zero to one employees is the hardest.
As your budget grows you can hire better people.
Being a manger is a learned skill.
For full-time employees hire for the most time-consuming task you are doing first.
Hire for support first.
Really good hires typically aren’t looking for jobs.
Episode 286 | Five Guidelines for Balancing Learning and Doing
Learning can be a major timesuck that masks itself as productivity.
Embrace just-in-time learning. Pick the task at hand then go out and learn everything about it.
Learning is the easy part.
Consciously cap your consumption (of learning).
Balance learning with inspiration.
You can’t use inspiration as a crutch.
Episode 287 | 5 High Leverage Areas Bootstrappers Should Focus On
Make sure you are spending time in the right places and not overworking yourself.
You have to be thinking out three to six months.
Make sure your team understands the vision and where the company is headed.
As you get larger a given channel might now work as well for you as it did in the past.
You want to think of ways to get your customers better results.
Be able to balance the talent you are hiring with the cashflow of the business.
Episode 288 | How to Choose and Test a Paid Marketing Channel
As ad platforms get more mature (e.g. Adwords) they get way more expensive and there is no way you are going to make them work.
Be realistic in how much time you have to run ads (tests).
Don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the single best ad is. Take three to five of them and test them. See what the results are.
There is a lot more B2C inventory than B2B. B2C is lower quality.
If you can find an outlier ad network, and you can make it work, the clicks are going to be super cheap and it is going to be very, very lucrative for you.
Episode 289 | A Short Guide to Online Presales for SaaS & Software
You don’t want to sell a product to somebody who won’t benefit from it.
If you have a lot of people you might want to qualify them before the demo. If you don’t have a lot of people to qualify you can do the demo first and then qualify them at the end.
You want to gather feedback to use for your future efforts.
If you have a high price point product, or it is complicated, or it integrates with a customer’s integral process, doing a customized demo will likely work better than them going directly to a trial.
Try to find out what the people that are coming to you most want and then try to guide them down that path.
The people that are going to pay you a lot of money are going to be the ones that are tech savvy and further along.
Episode 290 | Public Speaking as a Sales Channel with Rachel Andrew
Speaking enables you to meet your customers.
It gets easier to get speaking engagements over time. They naturally build on one another.
Write the abstract before writing the talk.
If you are good as a speaker you get more requests than you ever do and at that point it becomes part of your income.
Making your presentation look good matters to some extent.
Make sure the travel (for conferences) doesn’t negatively affect your business.
Episode 291 | Freemium, Asking for CC Up-front, and a Big Mistake First-time Founders Make (with Guest David Cancel)
Don’t try to be too clever. You’ll just end up confusing people.
Approach a market when there is a shift that allows you to redefine a market.
The way you sell to a customer and support a customer has to change.
The bigger hits are the differentiator these days because there is so many high-quality hits coming out.
Episode 292 | Moving from One-time to Subscription Revenue, When Your Core Product Has Variable Costs, and More Listener Questions
It is easier and easier to build cool tools but the performance implications of those as you scale up is a real thing.
B2C tends to be a tougher market (than B2B).
You can get $0.10 clicks on Facebook with retargeting.
Even with 500 uniques a month you can get some retargeting.
You have a problem if people are leaving after seven seconds.
These days you’re going to have to do everything under the sun that doesn’t scale just to get people using your app.
Your mailing list is an asset. As asset doesn’t build itself overnight.
Get in one-on-one conversations and figure out if people can use (your product).
Selling subscriptions in WordPress is very difficult as people are not used to it.
It takes you years to get through the long, slow SaaS ramp of death.
Try to get to between $2,000 and $5,000 a month as soon as possible.
Episode 293 | The 6 Biggest Email Marketing Myths
Mondays and Fridays are typically not good days to send email.
Entrepreneurs tend to check their email on the weekend. People and large corporations tend not to check their email on the weekend.
If you send on Tuesday then you are probably getting lost in all of the other email marketers who send on Tuesdays.
(Email length) depends so much on your visitors and prospects.
Have shorter emails that are good on mobile when you are first engaging with someone. Pack short, powerful stuff in the getting acquainted emails.
You have to have a minimum number of characters that conveys what the email is about.
Make sure you are building your list fast enough that having an expected unsubscribe rate is something you can overcome.
Have really nice plain text looking emails.
Episode 294 | Back of the Envelope Business Model Test
Book: Scaling Lean – Mastering the key metrics for startup growth
Look three years out and what expected revenue is going to be.
With a dollar amount of yearly recurring revenue (three years out) you have a number to base your other calculations on.
Looking three years out you’re going to be way off.
Use value-based pricing to base your price on. This is based on the value your solution provides not what it costs to deliver.
If you can provide value based pricing you are better off.
You’re trying to get down to average price per customer and average lifetime value.
If you can’t make your business model work on paper then you are never going to be able to make it work in real life.
Time-boxed goals are better than general revenue goals.
Episode 295 | How to Get Your First 10 SaaS Customers
Premature growth can be detrimental to a small team.
Perform extensive user testing with potential customers.
If you can’t find ten or twenty people willing to pay you for (your product) what makes you think you are going to get a hundred, five hundred, or a thousand?
Leverage market places and communities.
Where does my customer spend their time online? Where do they look for a solution to the problem I am trying to solve?
Try to hone in on your (customer’s) needs.
The same questions on forums tend to come up over and over again.
Being active on Twitter and engaging folks can help you grown in the early days.
The opinion of your first few users matters more than gold.
Twitter isn’t a silver bullet for every single business.
Episode 296 | Launching 100 Projects in One Year
When you’re running a business you know your financials and what is coming down the pipe. With employment you can just show up one day and you’re gone.
To get above seven figures in SaaS revenue you need a team.
If you hire somebody full-time you are not just responsible for their job and benefits but for their kids’ welfare as well.
People want to be part of the story.
There is no point in creating something if nobody is ever going to look at it or use it.
Know what your own limitations are.
Use a Beta List launch to find out who is interested. Look at your mailing list and find out why people are signing up.
Starting is way easier than finishing.
You have to be willing to quit some projects.
Walking away is hard.
You get really good at launching, and getting over those fears, the more you launch.
Start small and start now.
There is no one path to success.
Episode 297 | How to Charge for Startup Ideas (With Guest Ken Wallace)
A lot of times tech entrepreneurs pick an idea that sounds interesting but they don’t pick one that has a customer waiting at the other end.
A lot of SaaS providers are trying to go annual and a lot of WordPress providers, who do annual, are trying to go monthly.
Do a who, what, and how of your target audience.
Episode 298 | A Startup Acquisition Story
If you want to launch a new product then launch something that leverages your existing customer base with something that is complementary to them or more valuable to them down the road.
Strategic acquisitions tend to have a much higher purchase price than financial (acquisitions).
With acquisitions there are no standards.
In the end both sides accept some type of risk.
(An acquisition) is extremely stressful.
Transparency can bite you in the butt. It can bring in competition who can easily replicate what you are doing. It can result in you not raising funding. It can impact acquisitions.
Book: Built to Sell
There are ways to stay lean and keep moving fast.
Your funding valuation is probably going to higher than your acquisition valuation.
Episode 299 | 7 Entrepreneurial Blind Spots
Cheapium is when you are charging cost.
Sometimes you come up with a lot of good ideas but you can’t do because of lack of funds or resources.
Being an entrepreneur is more about the journey than the goals.
The vast majority of entrepreneurs are goal oriented.
Anything that is outside your direct control is going to take two times longer than you think.
It is really hard to do an estimate for someone else.
Most developers estimate too low.
You can only be productive on one or two things at a time over a given time period (of a few days or weeks).
There is always more code to write and there is always more marketing to do.
You know you’re not objective about something when you start to become defensive about the points you are making.
People fall into a trap of doing everything themselves because (they think) it is going to take too long to delegate it to someone else.
You want to hire someone for their decision making ability not necessarily the skills they have.
You’re going to base the majority of your decisions on incomplete data.
Episode 299.5 | Ten Lessons Every Startup Founder Should Learn from Bill Walsh
You have to hire somewhat slow because you are bootstrapped.
(Bootstrapping) is a certain way of thinking about things.
Book: The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
Everything starts with work ethic.
Focus on continual improvement.
Work ethic isn’t working 80-hour weeks. Work ethic is being incredibly focused and when you are working getting it done.
Blame yourself for poor team performance.
You have to have a certain amount of empathy as a human being to run a company but there are certain times you need to put the business above the individual needs of the employees or contractors you are working with.
Don’t win by fluke. Always examine what caused your victory, how you can repeat it, and how you can improve upon it.
Take a hard look at what is working and what is not. Double down on the things that are working. Change the things that aren’t.
Make friend and not enemies. Enemies take up too much time and focus. One enemy can undo 100 friends.
Demonstrate respect for each person in your organization and the work that he or she does.
Episode 300 | The 4 Unfair Advantages for Faster SaaS Growth
Have a requirement for fast, early growth.
From Jason Cohen, “the only real competitive advantage is one that which cannot be copied and cannot be bought.”
Being early is temporary.
Being early requires swift execution.
Who you know, who would endorse you, who would be willing to promote you to their audience are all unfair advantages.
Do they know you well enough that they will be their reputation on the line?
Who knows you? People who know, like, and trust you?
You can’t just go for the big fish. You have to work your way up to it.
Some of the mistakes you make don’t matter nearly as much as you think they do.
Episode 301 | Six Decision Making Tips for Entrepreneurs
Decision making is a key part of what you do day-to-day as a founder.
Frame the decisions you do need to make.
HALT: Don’t make decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. (or sick)
There are certain decisions that are easy to undo. Make those quickly.
Not wanting to make the wrong decision can lead to procrastination.
Decisions tend to show whether they are right or wrong pretty quickly.
The more decisions you make the less each individual one matters.
Episode 302 | 8 Key Takeaways from MicroConf Europe 2016
Be prepared to rewrite your MVP.
Bruteforce sales in the early days.
Showing up and doing the work is highly underrated.
Book: Instant Cash Flow
Reevaluate your core values.
ABFU – Always be following up.
You need to do sales yourself from the very beginning to make sure you are selling to the right people and identifying the right prospects you should be talking to.
Episode 303 | Our Favorite Tabletop Games
Podcast: Game Punting
Magic the Gathering is like a simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons. You can get a big box of cards off of eBay.
Storming the Castle is a game based on the movie Princess Bride.
Code Master is a game aimed at smaller kids. It is a nice intro to how computers work for kids.
Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert
Episode 304 | From Bootstrapped to Funded and Back to Bootstrapped with Simon Payne
Make your early hires people who can be leaders.
Talking to people can be a superpower.
Episode 305 | Strategies for Taking Pre-orders for a New Product
Sales is about finding what people want, going out and getting it, and then delivering it to them.
If you create something and then go find people to sell it to you might have invested a lot of time creating something nobody will buy.
Taking pre orders is a step in the process to identify if you are on the right track.
Building an email list serves as a proxy for making money.
Build a list of a couple thousand people before asking for money.
Pre-orders are risk mitigation and they help fill in the knowledge gaps (what features people want, how much they are willing to pay, etc.).
When you’re doing pre-orders you want to give an outline of what you are selling (if a book) or mockups (if you are selling software). Walk through all of the important parts that solve their problem.
Hone in on the features that a majority of the people feel are important to them.
People that sign up for pre-orders are looking at it as a longer term investment.
If you are talking with somebody and you name a price then their mind is going to automatically be anchored to that price rather than what the value is.
Episode 306 | Mixing Subscription and One-time Pricing, Angel Investing, Options for Recurring Payments, and More Listener Questions
The early days of hustling and talking to people is not just about building up your customer base but learning what the standard objections are.
Investors want a business where they know that if they put money into it they are going to get more money out of it.
There are a lot of cheap/free (except for your time) marketing approaches.
Episode 307 | Is the Micropreneur Dream Still Alive?
Priorities definitely change over time.
People start businesses for a wide variety of reasons.
Often new things are bigger and scarier challenges.
The reasons that people exit their businesses are just as varied as the reasons people start them.
The question is what you want to have an impact on.
Episode 308 | Work-work Balance, Living A Process-Based Life, and More Listener Questions
When you get further removed it is easier to be objective.
If you find that you are doing the same thing for days on end then you might want to schedule a daily review.
Most of the things that you consider crap work is a job for somebody else doing something they enjoy.
By its very nature entrepreneurship is a constant state of forgoing present gains for potential future rewards
Developers are much more motivated by having cool problems to solve (rather than money).
Episode 309 | Updates on Bluetick.io & Drip
(Lack of unit tests) is a classic mistake.
There has to be something for onboarding people in (your) app.
There are very different ways to look at the sales process and ways that different competitors look at it.
As you grow people need to become comfortable with each other.
Investing is a way to grow money slowly.
Episode 310 | Indie.vc and a More Realistic Approach to Funding
Fundstrapping is the idea of raising a single round of funding to get to profitability.
Fundraising was meant to be a pain reliever but it has become a gateway drug to the unicorn culture that has been built up around startups.
There is an implicit A (round) when you take a seed round these days.
You become who you hang around.
There is real value in being a group of like-minded founders who are trying to build their companies in the same way you are trying to build yours.
Episode 311 | What It’s Like Selling a $128k Side Project (With Guest Derrick Reimer)
Twitter ads to people following Github. (his product is built on top of Github)
Start marketing before you start coding.
It is a seller’s market today if you have a decent quality SaaS app.
Don’t underestimate the amount of effort due diligence is.
Keep everything separate (bank accounts, apps you use, etc.).
Episode 312 | 9 Ways to Introduce New Ideas into Your Business
When focusing on getting the next person to use your product you need to figure out if you are talking to the right people or if you need to build another feature that they need.
It is hard to sit down and read for a couple of hours every day.
Books will broaden your understanding of a specific topic.
Books contain dated information. For more recent turn to podcasts.
Just in time learning.
With podcasts you can really niche down.
Mentoring helps you think through problems you wouldn’t have thought through before.
Do self-study and blog about the experience.
Episode 313 | The Viability of SaaS, Cutting-edge Technologies, and More Listener Questions
The landscape of SaaS businesses is starting to become more crowded.
The low-hanging fruit (for SaaS) is more or less gone.
Developers want to invent something new. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
Two ways to stand out are audio and writing a book.
Setting up a podcast takes a bunch of time.
You’re not going to release ten episodes and have any type of audience. It is a long snowball that you are pushing up a hill.
If you are going to be a solopreneur/bootstrapper you are going to want to learn how to market.
As a bootstrapper you don’t want to be excited about new tech.
Episode 314 | Management Lessons for Founders
One of the goals of management is to move the business in the right direction.
Switching between maker-mode and manager-mode is very difficult.
(Management) is essentially a learned skill.
It is important to know what your shortcomings are when dealing with people.
Business objectives change frequently particularly in the early days of a startup.
You need to let people know what the long-term objectives of the company are.
Meetings are often the death of your maker-time.
Episode 315 | On Attending Conferences, Opening a Bank Account, and Project Management Tools
At conferences get to know people and learn what they are doing. Those relationships will provide value for years to come.
Swag should exemplify what your business is.
You have to focus on something long enough for it to have legs. You can’t bounce from one thing to the next or else nothing takes hold.
Episode 316 | Subscription Pricing Models? Challenge Accepted.
If the value of a product goes up over time then you should charge a subscription.
If you have a SaaS app then offering monthly (subscriptions) and annual (subscriptions) is the way to go.
Run a test on the pricing page. Default to annual and see how many people go through. Default to monthly and see how many people go through.
Big prices increases are going to have a backlash even if you grandfather for a year or two.
Communicate with people as often as possible. Help them transition to another service (if you are shutting down or they need to take their business elsewhere).
Episode 317 | Our Predictions for 2017
It is going to be a while before (smartwatch companies) figure out what consumers really want and what will make them alter their lives.
There is not the killer feature yet (for smartwatches).
Health insurance companies are price-testing on their own customers.
Crowdfunding (for startup fundraising rather than products via Kickstarter) is going to fizzle out.
The risks for building a services company are dramatically lower than for building a SaaS.
You can change processes much, much faster than you can change software.
Episode 318 | Our Goals for 2017
Book: Micro-SaaS eBook
You can help (onboard) but you can’t make them do certain things.
You can 10x your signups if you build a sequence and build anticipation (leading up to your launch date for people who have signed up to be notified about your launch).
Planning product roadmaps is really difficult.
It is hard to maintain a goal every single week.
Episode 319 | Questions about the Technical Side of SaaS
Create a two-week calendar reminder to log in and look at your billing (for your infrastructure).
If you combine your marketing site with your app (as a single git project) then you almost need a developer to make any marketing site changes which is not the best position to be in.
Do a partial daily backup and a weekly full backup.
You don’t want to over-engineer your SaaS app when you have 20 customers.
Test your backups.
Gmail and Yahoo look at your open rates and if they are crappy they penalize you by sending you to the promotions tab.
There are three general classifications of email. The first is commercial. The second is transactional (emails you receive when doing business with someone such as receipts and follow up emails), and the last is other.
Episode 320 | Business Model Breakdown of Amazon Go
It is a proof-of-concept.
Over time technology tends to take jobs from lower-skilled workers and created jobs for higher-skilled workers.