Partner Marketing: Proven Tactics for Startups

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partner marketing with Reid Genauer

Reid Genauer is the CEO of Magisto. Magisto uses artificial intelligence to transform ordinary photos and videos into professional movies. Currently they make about 10 million movies/month.

It’s fun to use ->> Go check it out

The topic of this interview won’t be on Magisto though, we will focus on partner marketing. Partner marketing has played a big role in the growth of Magisto.

Listen to this interview so you can understand what to expect with from a partnership and learn how to choose the right partners as you start or grow your business.

Read more

How to Land Clients the Fast Way With Serial Entrepreneur Tom Gay

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Thomas Gay RS

Thomas-Gay-Interview_0I should mention that I don’t use the term “serial entrepreneur” lightly.

Tom has been starting companies since the 80’s and he isn’t slowing down now. He grew some of them into Inc 500 winners and one of them to $80M in sales. We’ve had quite a few entrepreneurs on this show, but few have been entrepreneurs for as long, and done as consistently well as Tom.

If you are an entrepreneur or are in business development, this is a can’t miss episode.

Listen now and you’ll hear Tom and I talk about:

  • (3:45) Introductions
  • (7:35) What is Refer.com and why does the world need it?
  • (10:15) When did you start and how much traction have you got so far?
  • (15:15) Why did you change the name to Refer.com?
  • (20:05) Please tell us about one of the pivots you’ve made and what you learned
  • (29:45) How should I get started at better leveraging my own network?
  • (38:45) Explain how your software helps with this
  • (42:45) What advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
  • (45:45) How should an entrepreneur find a viable business idea?
  • (46:45) How should people “just start” in business?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

 

About Thomas Gay

ThomasGayThomas Gay is a life-long business owner and entrepreneur. In the 80s he founded National Decision Systems, the pioneer in advanced site selection and target marketing tools for major consumer goods companies. Tom’s firm was twice honored with the coveted INC 500 Award and he sold it in 1988 to Equifax.

In 1990, Tom started VistaInfo. After going public in 1997, Tom was honored in an Individual Investor Magazine cover story (May 1999) where he was called one of the “5 Best Undiscovered CEO’s” in the USA. VistaInfo was named a “Magic 25” company in 1999 and was acquired in 2000 with sales of $80M to create what is now known as Fidelity National Information Solutions.

In 2001, Tom and his wife, Patti, went to South Africa where they started a non-profit ministry organization, Monte Christo Ministries. Today, MCM feeds thousands of people daily and brings together organizations, churches and universities, world-wide, to relieve the burdens of poverty, apartheid and HIV/AIDS in the Cape Town Area. In 2014, his company IdeaLab was renamed Refer.com

Tom serves on numerous corporate and community boards and is a frequently sought speaker on the topics of socially responsible business, relationship marketing and leadership development.

Additional Resources

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section below
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  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
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My 2 Year Plan to Build a 7 Figure Lifestyle Business

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focus-header-image-web

focus-header-image-webNote: This post has been updated since it was originally published on March 17, 2014. You can also listen to me explain my 2 year plan here.

If there is one word that is most often used to describe ultra-successful entrepreneurs, it’s focus.

When you have it, you get results.

When you don’t, you’re just busy.

Ever since last month’s dismal earnings report, I have been deep in thought about the business that I’m trying to build and the results needed to get me there.

As I’ve thought more and more about my businesses, my products, and how I’ve been spending my time, I’ve come to the realization that how I’ve been allocating my time (and the actions that I’m taking) are not exactly what I need to be doing to achieve the results that I’m after.

In other words, I’ve not been focused on the right things.

Begin With The End in Mind

To help me work my way through my challenge, my wife and I decided to begin by creating a vision board for what we want our life to look like. At the time of this writing, the board is not yet complete; however, I can tell you about a few of our ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’.

Before I do, I want to emphasize that the reason that I’m going to share this is not to boast about what we want to accomplish. Instead, my motivation for sharing some of our goals is purely to (hopefully) inspire you to take this same step in your own business/life planning process. So, with that said…

Must Haves

how to start a marketing agency

Come Up With Plan and Work Towards It

With respect to the business, which will obviously have a large impact on our lifestyle, our list of must have’s includes the following:

  • We must add massive value to our clients and customers, so that they remain highly engaged and reliant on us for a long period of time
  • A recurring billing revenue model, so that we can build a business that can one day be sold for a large sum, and gives us highly predictable revenue for as long as we own it
  • The business is location independent so that we can live anywhere we like without restricting our level of income
  • Products and services that we are passionate about with a very long shelf life so that we can build a business that will last for the long term
  • The potential to achieve a 7 figure revenue stream with gross margins of at least 60% so that our net profit margin will exceed 20% of total revenue
  • A suite of products and services that are very scalable so that we can build systems and train employees to use those systems to run day to day operations
  • Products and services that are paid for in advance so that we never have to deal with unpaid receivables and a negative cash flow cycle
  • The opportunity to work with interesting people so that the business always remains fun to be a part of

Nice To Haves

While not critical to my happiness, below are a few of the things that would be very nice to have in my business:

  • Invitations to speak and consult that are close enough for me to fly my own plane to (I have a pilot’s license) rather than hop on an airline
  • A mastermind group comprised of people running $10M (or larger) companies so that I can organize retreats to some really amazing places, and be paid to travel there
  • A few clients that are paying me enough each year that I can afford to take them to Miller Motorsports Park for a fun-filled day of racing around the track in some really fast cars

One of the biggest reasons that I chose to become an entrepreneur is so that I can design a lifestyle of my choosing. What motivates you? Please tell me in the comments below.

Make a List of Short Term Challenges

In 2013, Bright Ideas earned a six figure income from information products and consulting work. The revenue from information products came primarily from two major product launches and the consulting revenue came from consulting engagements with Bright Ideas readers who wanted to use Infusionsoft in their business.

Given that we hit $127,000 in our first year of monetization, our results were OK (but not incredible). To repeat this level of income in 2014, we either need more consulting clients, or I need to write more books and launch more products.

The problem with product launches is that, in my opinion, they are not a sustainable business model. Worse that than, however, is that a product launch is a massive amount of work and pretty stressful (what if it flops?).

Because of this, I’m not terribly interested in building a business dependent on product launches, and as such, I’m going to need to do more consulting work with clients.

The problem that I’m faced with is that, up to now, attracting consulting clients hasn’t really been my focus. Sure, I’ve mentioned Infusionsoft (see…I did it again!) on my blog many times; however, thus far, consulting engagements for this type of client have been limited to $5,000 or less, and worse, the revenue has all been one-time revenue, as opposed to recurring revenue.

Boo.

If I’m to hit my goal of at least $250,000 in revenue in 2014, I’m going to need to offer something much different that I’m offering today, as well as to offer it to a type of business that doesn’t (yet) even know that I exists.

As you might guess, I have some work to do!

Make a List of Goals

The Bright Ideas business (everything I sell, except consulting) will probably generate between $30,000 to $40,000 worth of sales in 2014 without my doing much other than blogging and running my mastermind group. The rest of the income is going to have to be generated by my agency, Groove Digital Marketing. I suspect the numbers will be about the same split in 2015.

As I plan to look back on this post in two years to see how I’ve done, here’s a quick summary of the goals for each of my businesses:

Groove Digital Marketing

Within two years from today, Groove will have become a $500K company with a 20% net margin. This business will have embraced the “built to sell” methodology and every part of this business will have been systematized and delegated to a member of the team.

Virtually all revenue will be from retainer income. The value of this asset will be equal to 5X earnings IF I am not needed to run the day to day operations of the company.

This is pretty much what I did while running my last company, Dyrand Systems. In year two, I think we did just shy of $500K; about half of which was recurring revenue. By 2008, we were doing just under $2M and I sold it for $1.2M 🙂

how to start a marketing agency

I Plan to See This Company Become the Beacon for Groove

Bright Ideas

Bright Ideas will be the platform where I talk about what we are doing to build Groove. The content produced will be of interest to other agencies and entrepreneurs in general. Revenue will be $500K.

I came up with these numbers after a talk with a guy I really respect. His business has the exact same model as Bright Ideas (we create high value free content to generate traffic, and then monetize that traffic with info products, affiliate income, and our mastermind groups.

Like me, he also has a services division that does work for his clients – though his service business caters more to other information marketers, as opposed to the type of clients that I will pursue with Groove.

When I found out that his business did $2.5 million (with a net profit margin of 50%!)  in the last year, I was pretty stoked, to say the least. As I couldn’t wrap my mind around hitting that figure within 2 years, I thought $500K would be something that was more believable; especially if my success with Groove gives me the street cred to attract more mastermind members at a higher price point than I charge now (his pay $18,000/year and he’s got 40 of them).

Make a Plan to Get From Here to There

how to start a marketing agency

If I Don’t Set My Goals How Will I Know Where to Go?

Below is a short summary of my plans for Groove and Bright Ideas.

Groove Digital Marketing

Effective immediately, my primary focus will shift to growing Groove into a 7-figure business, and to do that, my plan is to offer content marketing services to businesses that can get an ROI on a monthly retainer of $3,000/month or more.

In hindsight, this is a decision that I should have made a year ago; however, there are two reasons why this didn’t happen.

Reason #1: My last business was really hard to grow. We were an outsourced IT department for small businesses and our clients paid us a monthly retainer for this.

The reasons it was so hard to grow were twofold: first, no one really wants to pay for IT support, and second, due to the nature of our business, attracting larger clients was incredibly difficult because selling to companies with one full-time IT manager involved a massive amount of politics (they feared for their jobs).

As a results of this experience, up to just recently, I swore I would never get into another services business as my primary means of income.

Reason #2: Thanks to my podcast, I have had the opportunity to interview quite a number of inbound marketing agency owners, and they have all been having quite a bit of success.

Unlike IT services, marketing services is something that CEOs want to buy because they know that effective marketing will help them to increase profits. And, thanks to my understanding of how to create documented processes and outsourcing, I am extremely confident that providing content marketing services can be treated as a scalable ‘product’ business in ways that offering IT support could never do.

With a scalable product offering, we should be able to grow faster! (assuming my sales engines is optimized, of course)

Sidebar: If you haven’t yet checked out my podcast, you should. The amount of free training in provided by my podcast exponentially exceeds what I have created in my paid products.

how to start a marketing agency

Know Who to Target and How

The Niches We’ll Target

Initially, we are going to focus on two niches: financial services and industrial manufacturers. By specializing, the goal is to:

  • Decrease direct competition from generalists
  • Increase our ability to charge premium pricing
  • Increase the likelihood of referrals
  • Have fewer places we need to advertise
  • Create more compelling offers and lead magnets
  • Develop high levels of industry specific expertise

The reason for the financial services niche is that I spent my first career in that niche so I have a better than average understanding of it. In addition, profits margins in financial services tend to be quite good and there are plenty of companies in the $10-50M range to target.

The reason for the industrial manufacturing niche is that they sell very high ticket items and aren’t generally known to be very good marketers. For this reason, I believe that we will be able to charge premium prices for premium quality content marketing. I have also interviewed several CEOs in this space and they have confirmed my assumptions.

My Lead Generation Plan

To acquire leads, we will:

  • Use the Content Marketer’s Blueprint (CMB) combined with Hubspot for Groove to build traffic to our site*
  • Contact existing Hubspot users who might not be getting the ROI there were hoping for
  • Perform Seek and Assist on LinkedIn
  • Buy Facebook Ads to promote webinars and other lead magnets
  • Speak at Vistage (I’ve just become an “approved” speaker, thanks to an introduction made by a past guest on my show)
  • Use dimensional direct mail + content to pursue my “Target 100” list of ideal prospects.

*as a result of a recent interview, I discovered the content marketers blueprint and how it ties into Hubspot. Suffice to say, I was blown away by what I saw. Infusionsoft is awesome for information marketers, people who want/need ecommerce, and people who want just one system to use ; however, as I’ve just recently discovered, Hubspot is ‘the shiz’ for content marketers looking for detailed analytics on what is working. Look for future posts on this.

Required Resources

In order to achieve the maximum benefit from the CMB, we have purchased Hubspot at a cost of $800/month. This is a significant investment; however, I cannot credibly sell content marketing in the way that I plan to without using the same tools myself.

The Groove Website needs a facelift which will cost $500 and a day or two of my time (this is actually done already).

Initially, my role will see me working “in” the business, and as cash flow allows, I will hire more employees to take over my day to day roles, thereby allowing me to transition to working “on” the business almost exclusively. With the time I free up by working “on” and not “in” the business, I will be able to invest time into building Bright Ideas into a much more successful business than it is today. 

Bright Ideas

James Schramko has proven that a personal blog can be built into a 7 figure business and the key driver to achieving this result is the production of very high quality, helpful content.

Many others (including me) have proven that providing incredibly helpful content for free creates a highly engaged audience and a very large mailing list.

Given that our near term monetization plan is focused on Groove, aside from creating content, Bright Ideas needn’t consume as much time as it has in the past.

More advanced funnels, product launches, etc, are all items that, given the current size of my list and volume of traffic, don’t offer a high enough ROI to warrant the time investment required.

Required Resources

Given that Bright Ideas content will be centered around sharing the story of how I’m building Groove (the stories of other enterpreneurs’ successes will continue to be shared via the podcast) into a 7 figure business, I suspect that the audience demographic will shift more towards agency owners and consultants as time goes by. 

To ensure that new visitors are clear about who Bright Ideas is for and what they will learn, I am going to make some changes to the lead magnet on my home page.

Currently, the home page looks like this:

bi-home-page-mar-14

Yesterday, I sent my designer the following mockup and asked her to create something attractive.

bi-home-page-mockup

With this type of lead magnet, I don’t need to create a new course (this would take time). Instead, all I need to produce is one blog post per week to detail my progress. The post could be as simple as what I did that week and the results I achieved.

More importantly, by offering this type of “look over my shoulder” content, I expect that I will also attract the type of reader I most want to have and this will likely generate more leads for the mastermind group.

In the near term, the only monetization system that needs to be built is a new version of my resources page that I’ve started referring to in recent podcast recordings (these recordings will start to air in a few weeks).

Assess the Time Required to Execute The Plan

No plan is worth the paper it’s written on if it isn’t feasible from a resource standpoint. Given that time is my most precious resource, I thought I would produce an estimate of how I plan to allocate my time to execute my plan.

time-allocation

As you can see, I only account for 34 hours per week of productivity, where as I will work a total of about 45 hours. This is because it would be impossible for me to produce 40 hours of productive work in a 40 hour week. Email, which is a necessary evil, is a somewhat unproductive time pig. Oink!

Adjust and Fine Tune

In 3 to 6 months, when I read this post again, I’m sure that, with hindsight to my benefit, I will see all sorts of flaws in my plan that are invisible to me today. Such is the nature of the beast.

If you’d like to join me for this journey, please be sure and become a subscriber today by clicking the button down below. It’s going to be another incredible ride and I’d be stoked to have you join me!

[xyz-ihs snippet=”BuildGroove”]

How a Small Business Software PayByGroup.com is Planning to Become the Paypal of Vacation Rentals

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Camilo Acosta RS

Camilo-Acosta-Interview_0Building a software service isn’t all about the bells and whistles.

Imagine coming up with a killer small business software application. You spend countless hours testing and writing to get all the aspects of the software working flawlessly. After you nail down what you know to be a functional application, you pitch it to people hoping to rake in the clients. The problem is, nobody needs this software.

Part of the software development process should be finding a market to support it. Camilo discovered a need and went about trying to find ways to satisfy it. This is a great episode for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the software business; in fact, it’s a great episode for any new business hoping to better understand and cater to their audience.

Listen now and you’ll hear Camilo and I talk about:

  • (2:30) Introductions
  • (4:30) How did you come up with the idea for your startup?
  • (7:30) How did you develop the first prototypes?
  • (10:30) How did you know your prototype was getting traction?
  • (12:30) What step did you take after you got early validation?
  • (17:40) What happened after you moved to Mountain View?
  • (19:40) What turned out radically different from the original vision?
  • (21:30) What are you doing now to cause growth?
  • (24:50) What was the first step you took to land homeaway.com?
  • (28:30) How much revenue were you doing at this point?
  • (30:30) How much have you needed to raise so far?
  • (31:30) What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned from fund raising?
  • (33:10) How did you begin the fund raising process?
  • (34:50) How did you cover the legal bills for fund raising?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

 

About Camilo Acosta

CamiloAcostaBefore starting PayByGroup, Camilo worked with Frank on Root Orange, a VC-backed domain name startup that split domains by city. Previously, he worked for his family’s government communications firm, and in best practices consulting at the Corporate Executive Board, both in his home town of Washington, D.C. 

Camilo is actively involved in organizing alumni gatherings for his school (Sidwell Friends School) and his college alma mater. He also hosts fundraisers for education reform organizations such as KIPP, and political candidates that support the cause. He enjoys driving on sunny days with the windows down and music up, and doting on his chocolate lab, Kipper. 

Camilo holds a B.A. in Politics from Princeton University.

Additional Resources

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section below
  • Share this episode on Twitter or Facebook

To help out the show:

  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
  • Subscribe on iTunes

Entrepreneurship Ideas From Jayson Gaignard on Going From Massive Debt to Massive Success

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Jayson Gaignard RS

Jayson-Gaignard-Interview_0Not every new venture is successful – in fact, even the ones that seem to be can come crashing down at any minute.

Jayson Gaignard provides an example of just that. His company hat reached millions of dollars in sales, when suddenly… it tanked. The loss of his prior company and how he came back with a new outlook on business gives a great story for all entrepreneurs to hear.

It’s not all big sales and mojitos on the beach. Sometimes things fail, but if they do, it helps to see how others have taken adversity and ramped up another successful business.

For the good, bad and the ugly of entrepreneurship ideas, check out this episode.

Listen now and you’ll hear Jayson and I talk about:

  • (03:05) Introductions
  • (03:50) How did you get started in business?
  • (06:40) What did you do to ruin your company?
  • (16:50) What is MastermindTalks?
  • (21:50) How did you get started with your first event?
  • (29:50) How did you attract other speakers?
  • (33:50) How did you drive traffic to the application page?
  • (35:50) What is an Influencer blast?
  • (38:50) What did you charge?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

 

About Jayson Gaignard

JaysonGaignard2Jayson Gaignard is the founder of Mastermind Talks, an annual invite-only event designed for elite entrepreneurs. He started Mastermind Talks after a failed business left him a quarter million in debt and with a ton of questions about what to do next.

Jayson went on to become the Founder of MastermindTalks, Mastermind Retreats, and The Early to Rise Podcast. Jason has revitalized his vision and is realizing a different kind of success.

Additional Resources

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section below
  • Share this episode on Twitter or Facebook

To help out the show:

  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
  • Subscribe on iTunes

How Tealet.com is Creating a Bridge Between Tea Growers and Tea Drinkers with Elyse Petersen

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Elyse Petersen 4IN X 6IN X 3000DPI X FC

elyse-petersen_0

At Bright Ideas, we’ve talked with some great startups who’ve received support ftom 500 startups. This time it’s Tealet.com, a direct-from-farmers tea company dedicated to the growers around the world. Founder Elyse Peterson has devoted her time to creating a worldwide appreciation for the local farmers across the globe and in other food security campaigns.

From crowd-funding, kickstarter, 500 startups, and more, learn how Elyse used the digital landscape to get her business running. If you’re interested in alternate funding sources for businesses, you’ll want to check out this interview.

Listen now and you’ll hear Elyse and I talk about:

  • (02:00) Introductions
  • (07:00) How did you get the business started?
  • (10:00) How did you use crowd funding?
  • (12:50) How did you bring awareness to that Indiegogo campaign?
  • (16:00) What was in it for the campaign backers?
  • (20:00) What’s it like to get funded by 500 startups?
  • (27:00) What happened after 500 startups?
  • (31:00) What does it mean to be a part of the Las Vegas Downtown Project?
  • (32:30) How has Bitcoin inpacted your business?
  • (37:00) Please tell me about your community

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

 

About Elyse Petersen

Elyse PetersenElyse Petersen is a Global Tea Ambassador with the International Tea Farms Alliance. She spent time working with tea farmers in Wazuka, Kyoto, Japan, and this experience inspired her to help grow tea culture across the U.S. and around the world. Petersen is an experienced international development worker in the area of food security, natural resource management, and sustainable food preservation; having served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa and Antigua and Barbuda, and the Eastern Caribbean. Petersen graduated from Shidler College of Business with a Japan-focused M.B.A, and from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a B.S. in Food Science and Technology.

Additional Resources

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section below
  • Share this episode on Twitter or Facebook

To help out the show:

  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
  • Subscribe on iTunes

How Shopseen Attracted 2200 Customers in Just Six Months

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ADEEL AHMAD 4IN X 6IN X 300DPI X FC (1)

adeel-ahmad_0

Sometimes, you can’t help but root for the little guy.

Adeel Ahmad was looking for a way to optimize the business end of things for small retailers, and with that idea, Shopseen was born. In this interview Adeel and I talk about how he saw the need for change, created his startup, and drew in a large customer base in a short period of time.

If you’re looking for ideas on startups, especially SaaS startups, you should check out this podcast.

Listen now and you’ll hear Adeel and I talk about:

  • (02:05) Who are you and what do you do?
  • (05:25) How did you got 2200 users in 6 months?
  • (08:25) How did you validate your idea?
  • (16:25) How did you get their first 10 customers?
  • (18:25) How did you determine how to price your product?
  • (22:25) Tell us about a time when an assumption you made was way off
  • (25:15) How has investor funding played out?
  • (30:25) How has your past been of help to you with Shopseen?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

 

About Adeel Ahmad

AdeelAhmad2Adeel started Shopseen soon after opening a vintage clothing shop in downtown San Francisco. Shopseen was built to solve the problems of operating a small modern retail  business, and soon it was spun off into its own startup. Previously, Adeel was an early software engineer at Context Optional, a pioneering social media management company that built a platform for large brands to reach and engage with a broad audience on social networks.

Additional Resources

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section below
  • Share this episode on Twitter or Facebook

To help out the show:

  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
  • Subscribe on iTunes

How Ethan Anderson is Growing MyTime.com into an Amazon for Local Services Merchants

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ETHAN 4IN X 6IN X 300DPI X FC (1)

ethan-anderson_0

Co-founder and CEO of a successful startup, Google Product Manager, Harvard Business School graduate, and previously named to the Silicon Valley 100, Ethan Anderson has been making waves in the digital marketplace.

Learn how Ethan came up with the concept for MyTime, an appointment setting website that connects businesses and customers through a simple and timely web interface. Discover how Ethan came up with the idea, how he saw an opportunity in the market, and how he established a well funded campaign to get it off the ground.

This interview is a must-listen for those interested in startups and SaaS development.

Listen now and you’ll hear Ethan and I talk about:

  • (2:00) Introductions
  • (3:10) What is MyTime?
  • (6:00) How did you research the idea?
  • (10:00) How did you attract interest very early on?
  • (12:00) Why did you raise money so early?
  • (14:00) How did you start selling to early adopters?
  • (20:30) How are you using crowd-sourcing?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

About Ethan Anderson

Ethan Anderson, RedBeaconIMG_0307Ethan is the Founder of MyTime, a startup that allows consumers to instantly purchase services and book appointments from nearby businesses. He was also Cofounder & CEO of Redbeacon, which allowed consumers to request bids for home services. Redbeacon was venture backed and won numerous awards including the Grand Prize at the 2009 TechCrunch50 competition and Business Insider’s Startup 2010 before being acquired by The Home Depot. Prior to Redbeacon, Ethan worked at Google as Product Manager for Image Search and Google Video.  Ethan also worked in a number of internet strategy and marketing roles at The Clorox Company, Buy.com, and McKinsey & Company. He graduated with Honors from Harvard Business School and Magna Cum Laude from Duke University, where he studied Economics and Public Policy Studies.  He was recently honored to be named to the Silicon Valley 100 and 16 Up-and-Coming Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs You Need to Meet.

Additional Resources

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  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
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How Circleci.com Attracted 1,000 Customers in Its First 2 Years

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PAUL BIGGAR 4INX 6IN X 300DPI X FC

paul-biggar_0

You probably wouldn’t know just to look at him but Paul – at least according to his friends – is an intimidating card shark.

What’s also not obvious at first glance is how this savvy entrepreneur created and funded his company, attracting an impressive 1,000 customers in the first two years. Paul shares with us the details on cirlceci‘s beginning and  rapid growth, including key pricing, marketing, and investor strategies.

He shares what they did that endeared them to their customers (and what he thinks all software companies need do in order to maintain customers).

If you’re interested in software startups, I suggest you take a listen to this podcast. (And check out all our software posts and interviews.)

Listen now and you’ll hear Paul and I talk about:

  • (02:55) Introductions
  • (03:55) What did you do before this?
  • (06:00) How did you get started?
  • (09:50) How did you create a competitive advantage?
  • (12:10) How did you achieve product/market fit?
  • (16:20) How does pricing play a role in product validation?
  • (19:50) Tell us about how your assumptions have gone wrong
  • (25:50) How did you start to generate sales?
  • (27:00) How did Twitter play a role in marketing?
  • (27:20) How did you fund it in the beginning?
  • (28:50) How did you endear your early customers?
  • (29:50) How did you go out and raise money from investors?
  • (32:20) What did you learn from pitching investors?
  • (33:45) What is the most fun part of your job?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

 

About Paul Biggar

Paul BiggarPaul Biggar is the co-founder of circleci, a state of the art automated testing and continuous integration and deployment tool. An expert in his field, Paul has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and has been featured on multiple HuffPost Live panels. His presentation at Google on compilers and programming languages was published as part of Google’s lauded Google Tech Talk Series, where it has been seen by over 20,000 people.
Prior to designing and developing circleci, Paul wrote phc, an open source PHP compiler, while doing his PhD on compilers and static analysis in Dublin. After moving to the Bay Area, Paul worked on the Firefox Javascript engine. He’s graduated from YCombinator, and now spends his time focused on developer productivity. He is an active speaker at tech conferences worldwide and spends his free time advising slightly younger companies on how to get started.

Additional Resources

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section below
  • Share this episode on Twitter or Facebook

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  • Leave a review on iTunes. It's your best way to say thank you to our team.
  • Subscribe on iTunes

 

The Story of Tony and Tina: A Tale of an Agency Gone Very Wrong and How You Can Avoid the Same

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overworked

digital marketing strategy

If you run your own business, yours is a family business – and to think otherwise will lead to disaster.

It doesn’t matter if your family members actually work in your business or not. Whatever their relationship to the business, each member of an entrepreneur’s family will be profoundly impacted by the decisions the entrepreneur makes about his business.

Sadly, many entrepreneurs tend to compartmentalize their lives unless a family member is directly involved in the business. For most entrepreneurs, they believe that their business life is separate from their family life.

As you are about to see, this is far from the truth.

What Happens in Business, Happens at Home

In reality, your business and your family are inextricably connected to one another. Whatever is happening in your business, is also happening at home.

Consider the following, and ask if each one is true:

  • If you are stressed at work, you are stressed at home
  • If you are having money problems at work, you are having money problems at home
  • If you feel out of control at work, you feel equally out of control at home
  • If you are having communication problems at work, you are also having them at home
  • If you are having trust issues at work, you are having trust issues at home
  • If you feel alone and isolated at work, you feel alone and isolated at home

The truth is that your business and your family are one – and you’re the link that connects them. If you are trying to keep them apart, your business and your family will be like strangers and you will have created two separate worlds for yourself – two worlds that split each other apart.

The Story of Tony and Tina

Let me tell you the story of Tony and Tina.

Tony and Tina met in college and have been married for over 15 years. They have two kids and live a modest lifestyle.

For 8 of the last 10 years, Tony worked for a mid-sized corporation and earned more than enough to pay the family’s bills as well as to save for retirement.  For 8 of the last 10 years, Tina was a stay at home mom and made sure that the needs of the family were well looked after.

digital marketing strategy

Excited For The Future

Two years ago, Tony decided to quit his corporate job to pursue his dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Prior to quitting, Tony and Tina talked about the change at great length. They talked about what type of business Tony would start, the type of clients he’d go after, how long it would take to replace the family income, and many other details involved in the transition.

They determined that they had sufficient savings to make the transition and agreed that the risk was worth taking. After all, as a successful entrepreneur, Tony would have more income and more freedom than he ever had during his corporate career.

With this extra income and freedom, Tony and Tina planned to take more vacations and to get more involved with their kid’s lives. The possibilities were downright exciting!

Tony’s New Business

During Tony’s last few years of corporate employment, he’d worked in the marketing department and had become quite passionate about his profession. He saw how his work had directly benefited the company and how growth had increased as a result.

The only problem was that Tony’s income didn’t go up in line with the success of the company and this was something that he desperately wanted to change.

Given his past experience and passion for marketing, Tony decided to start his own marketing agency – and unlike many traditional agencies, Tony’s agency would specialize in digital (online) marketing.

Online marketing is still quite “new” relative to traditional marketing, so change is a constant. As a result, Tony saw a huge opportunity to serve a customer segment he knew well.

The services that Tony planned to offer his clients included:

  • Website design
  • Content marketing (blogging)
  • Social media management

Unlike many traditional agencies, Tony want to focus only on digital marketing services as a way to differentiate his firm from the masses.

The First Six Months

digital marketing strategy

All Signs Were Looking Up

Tony’s first six months in business were nothing short of amazing. Using his personal and professional network had yielded terrific results. He had attracted several clients and the cash was rolling in.

In fact, things got so busy that Tony was having a hard time keeping up with all the client demands, and to solve this problem, he decided to hire two other people to help him.

Finding just the right people to join his firm was incredibly challenging. Trusting them to do the work the way that he wanted it done was even more difficult. But what choice did he have? He just couldn’t keep up without them.

Managing his new employees was more complicated and took more time than working for someone else. Tony not only supervised everyone, he was always looking for ways to keep them busy.

More Staff. More Demands. More Stress.

With more clients and more staff to manage, the demands on Tony’s time were greater than at any other point in his life. To cope, Tony began leaving home earlier in the morning and coming home later at night. He rarely saw his kids now. For the most part, Tony was resigned to the problem. He just saw the long hours as essential to build his company.

digital marketing strategy

Every New Opportunity Comes With Some Drawbacks

Money was also becoming a problem. Much to Tony’s surprise, clients didn’t always pay on time and when they didn’t, it had a huge impact on his cash flow. He still had to pay his bills on time. Why didn’t his clients do the same?!

Back when Tony was an employee, he got paid every two weeks, but now that he was the boss, there were times when he didn’t get paid for a month or more.

The financial stress was taking its toll.

Making matters worse was the fact that Tony didn’t feel like Tina was sensitive to his troubles. Though, given that his mantra was “business is business”, Tony didn’t talk to Tina much about it. Instead, he believed it was her job to look after him and the family.

As time went on, Tony became even more consumed with running his business. Not surprisingly, Tina became increasingly frustrated with Tony’s lack of communication and increasingly long hours. She’d put many things in her life on hold to focus on the family, and now her husband was barely ever at home.

Tina was not impressed.

Client demands never let up and Tony was now regularly working 10+ hours a day and it still wasn’t enough. To keep up, he was now also getting up at 5am on Saturdays so that he could catch up on emails before the rest of his family started their day – a day that they expected Tony to be a part of!

Tony hated working so much, but he just couldn’t see any other way to keep up with all the work he needed to get done.

Not only that, Tony had exhausted his list of personal contacts to drum up new business, and he was finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to do the activities that he knew would attract new clients.

Problems With Clients and Staff

On top of all this, some of his existing clients were complaining. They were upset that Tony’s staff wasn’t delivering the quality of work that they had come to expect when Tony was personally handling their accounts.

One client was so unhappy, they told Tony they’d planned to leave if he didn’t fix the problem within a month.

As a result of working so hard, Tony was starting to feel burned out. He was also feeling overwhelmed and really stressed out.

After a few months of this, Tony’s stress levels started to impact his business – and his family.

As the owner of the company, Tony felt very alone. There were so many things he needed to talk to someone about – and talking to his staff about these things was totally out of the question.

Instead of talking to his staff, Tony micro-managed them even more. He just couldn’t afford to lose any clients, so everything had to be done exactly the way he wanted it done.

With the micro-management increasing, Tony’s staff started to become disillusioned – and, unknown to Tony, they started to look for employment elsewhere.

More Stress and Isolation

Around this same time, Tony began to isolate himself from his staff. This was a marked change from how things were at the start and his staff began to behave in ways that surprised Tony. They didn’t seem to care as much. They missed deadlines. They didn’t tell Tony about problems that they should have.

Digital Marketing Strategy

The Stress Was Taking Its Toll

As you might guess, this drove Tony’s stress levels even higher and his relationship with Tina and his kids was now suffering. When they did spend time together, Tony was always preoccupied with thoughts of the problems of the business.

Tony didn’t feel like he could tell Tina that his business was suffering. He wasn’t getting as many new client leads. He wasn’t getting as much work from existing clients. His staff wasn’t very happy.

If he told Tina about any of this, she’d be stressed out, too!

As time went by, things just weren’t getting any better.

One of Tony’s employees told him that she just wasn’t enjoying working for him any more. The environment had become one of stress, frustration, and negativity, and she wanted no part of that, so she handed in her resignation.

The thought of having to replace this person was more than Tony could take, and he became angry.

Now, instead of feeling full of optimism, Tony’s daily routine had become one of anger, frustration, loneliness, and despair. What this really what he signed up for?

Family Life Starts to Suffer

Tina was running out of patience with Tony, too. When they started this business, their goal was to get more balance in life.

That had not happened. In fact, Tony was working almost 50% more hours now than he ever did at his corporate job. Tina and the kids were feeling neglected, to say the least.

One night when he got home from yet another long day at work, Tony noticed an unfinished email on the screen. It was an email from Tina to her sister complaining of how distant Tony had become and how she was thinking about leaving him as a result.

That night Tony slept on the couch. He left the house early in the morning before anyone was awake. For perhaps the first time in his life as an entrepreneur, he was in no mood for questions.

When Tony got to the office, he headed straight for the liquor cabinet beside his desk…and you can image how the situation goes from here.

What is the Lesson Here?

What lessons can we draw from Tony and Tina’s story? As I’ve already emphatically said, every business is a family business. Every business profoundly impacts every family member – whether they work there or not. Every business either gives to the family or takes from the family, just as individual family members do.

If the business takes more than it gives, like Tony’s did, the family is always the first to pay the price.

digital marketing strategy

Sound Familiar?

Tony’s biggest mistake was trying to do everything himself. True, he hired staff, however, he didn’t really trust them to assume responsibility for important projects and he micro-managed their work.

Had he succeeded, life would have been grand and he would have felt fantastic. Instead, Tony unwittingly isolated himself thereby achieving the exact opposite of what he sought.

He destroyed his life – and his family’s life along with it.

Repeat after me: Every business is a family business.

Are You Like Tony?

I believe that many entrepreneurs have many things in common with Tony. You must learn that a business is only a business. It’s not your life – it’s just a part of your life, albeit an important one.

Your business can have a profoundly negative impact on your life unless you learn how to run it in a way that is different that what 99% of other entrepreneurs do. You must not run your business like Tony did.

Tony’s business could have served his family in the way that he’d originally envisioned. For that to happen, however, Tony would have had to learn how to master his business in a way that was completely foreign to him.

Instead, Tony’s business consumed him. Lacking in a true understanding of the critical strategic thinking that would have allowed his business to flourish, Tony and his family were doomed from the start.

There is a Solution

The story that I have just told you was inspired by the story of Edward and Abigail in the book eMyth Attorney, by Michael Gerber.

digital marketing strategy

I Made My Business Work For Me

When I read the book, I was reminded of my first business, Dyrand Systems, which I started in 2001. Within 6 months of starting that business, I’d discovered and read Michael’s first book, The eMyth, and it was my decision to embrace the principles in The eMyth that allowed me to grow the business from nothing to several million in revenue, while working 40 hours a week or less.

In the year that I sold Dyrand for $1.2 million, I barely needed to show up for work. The fact that the company continues to do well today is ample proof of how redundant I’d made myself using the principles I discovered in The eMyth.

For some people, just reading the book will be enough to help you alter the course you are on.

For others, I suspect more support would be highly beneficial.

How to Avoid Tony’s Mistakes and Get the Support You Need

After reading the book the other day, I posted a message in the Facebook group for my Mastermind Elite members to see. Being exposed to the eMyth again after all these years had reminded me of some things I’d forgotten, and I wanted to see if the members of my mastermind group would be interested in what was now on my mind.

When you read the thread below, pay particular attention to Drew’s comment. Drew grew an online retailer to $6M in sales and then sold it for a tidy sum. He and I are the only two guys in the mastermind that have (thus far) grown a company to millions in sales and then sold it for 7 figures.

Both of us LIVED the message in The eMyth. Perhaps you would benefit from doing the same?

If so, keep reading and I will tell you how I’d like to support you in that regard.

digital marketing strategy

How to Embrace the Principles of the eMyth

The eMyth is now going to become a guiding pillar for the members of the Bright Ideas Mastermind Elite.

We are all going to read the book and we are all going to embrace its principles in our respective businesses – but we aren’t going to do it in isolation. Instead, ours will be a coordinated approach.

Taking a coordinated approach to problem solving is a fundamental part of any mastermind group. Why figure everything out on your own when you can instead share your ideas with, and learn from, others who are pursuing goals that are similar to yours?

If you’d like to be a part of a group of like-minded entrepreneurs and build a business that allows you to live the life of your dreams, instead of becoming a business that sucks the life out of you, then please accept my invitation to apply for membership in our exclusive group.

At the time of this writing, we are a group of 8 entrepreneurs who all share the goal of building a highly profitably business that is built to run on systems. Systems that will empower our staff to deliver excellence, while giving us the freedom to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Like Drew, I have already experienced the thrill of selling a company for over a million dollars, and I can assure you that I plan to do it again – and experience tells me that the way to do that is to build a business that is built on systems.

I’m sure some of you can do this on your own and if you do, please write to tell me about it.

For those of you who don’t want to do it all alone, I recommend you apply for membership today. Trust me when I say it will be the best decision you make this year. But don’t take my word for it. See what one of our members has to say…

digital marketing strategy

What is Holding You Back?

What do you think? Can you relate to Tony’s struggles? Please share your thoughts down in the comments, and if you are feeling bold, go ahead and share with me what one of your biggest struggles is. If I have advice for you, I’ll be sure and reply to your comment. Thanks!

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