Fri, 26 August 2016
Jeremy Chatelaine is the founder of Quickmail.io, a tool to help businesses generate leads on autopilot with automated outbound emails and smart follow-ups. Quickmail.io is one of the first companies to provide a solution for sales automation. In just two years since inception, Jeremy grew Quickmail.io to over 1,000 customers and over $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue.
In this interview, Jeremy breaks down each phase of growing his business, from validating his idea to his first customer acquisition to hiring his first team member. He also shares his insights on the realities of a having the freedom of choice with your lifestyle business, and why chooses to focus on customer experience over massive growth.
In This Interview I Ask:
2:30 - Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
3:34 - What problem did you build Quickmail.io to solve?
4:41 - What did your process look like to validate the idea?
5:42 - Can you give us a sense of where Quickmail.io is right now in terms of monthly revenues and customers?
6:35 - What was it actually like for you to get your first customers?
9:42 - When you first experienced this problem for yourself, did you initially go see if there was something out there to solve it for you?
10:57 - When did you make the shift to focus on Quickmail.io as the business [you’re] going to build?
12:05 - Where were you finding those people [to have one-on-one sales conversations with]?
14:25 - How many sales conversations would you say you had? When you were doing the one-on-one sales conversations, how long did you do that?
15:38 - Once you switched from having one-on-one conversations, what was the primary way that you were acquiring new customers?
16:25 - Roughly what dollar amount, on a monthly basis, did you grow to [during the period] you weren’t really focusing any specific marketing effort?
19:20 - What sort of things are you looking for that would cause you to advise someone it’s time to leave [their] job?
21:42 - What is your most successful channel for customer acquisition? What is the number one factor that drives growth for you over the past couple of months?
24:45 - What was just one thing you personally needed to work on or overcome to grow Quickmail in the way that you did in the last two years?
28:48 - Have you put together any team?
31:13 - What does it look like for you to run a $50k/month business? What do you do on a daily basis?
35:44 - Who is an entrepreneur you admire?
36:30 - Is there something that you do every day in a ritual type way, no matter what?
39:21 - Who was your hero growing up?
41:47 - You’re going to a desert island and you can only bring one book, what book would you bring?
When to Quit Your Job
When you know for sure that if you spend more time on your business and it will equate to more sales, then you can quit your job. If you leave before there’s a predictable path to more customers, you’re gambling with your future and your family.
The Freedom to Choose When and When Not to Work
Many people build a lifestyle business to have the freedom to choose when and when not to work. However, sometimes you may need to force yourself to work, even when you don’t want to, in order to get things done. Other entrepreneurs who only work when they “feel like it” end up not doing much for their business. A business is like a child. It needs to be fed and changed. There are a few things that you just have to do. It’s not always sexy, but just do it.
How to Choose Your Mentors
Have mentors with the skillsets you wish to acquire.
Quickmail.io Job Opening for Customer Support, apply
Sun, 21 August 2016
Brian Scudamore is the founder of many companies under the umbrella of O2E Brands (Ordinary 2 Exceptional). He started his first business 1-800-GOT-JUNK, a junk removal company, in college, and grew it to a global brand with franchises in over 30 cities across North America. Brian’s other franchises include Wow 1 Day Painting, You Move Me, and Shack Shine.
In this interview, Brian tells us how he grew 1-800-GOT-JUNK from a college side hustle to a 250 million dollar franchise. Brian credits his success to two things: having a clear vision for his business, and hiring the right people.
In This Interview I Ask:
2:30 - How much money can you make running a junk removal business?
4:07 - What were you studying when you were in college?
4:42 - If you were about to have the possibility to enter college today and you still wanted to be an entrepreneur, do you think you would go through it?
6:36 - What did [it] actually look like for you to go from nothing, to getting something created out of thin air?
10:26 - What kind of income were you actually taking home, roughly?
11:44 - During those first five years, what was your relationship like with [your friends and family] relevant to your business? Were they supportive?
14:53 - After you lay off these eleven people, do you start to create a system in a structure around exactly what it looks like to hire the perfect employee for you?
18:32 - So you've actually never taken outside funding for 1-800-Got-Junk or any of the brands, is that right?
20:21 - What kind of a process have you put in place to onboard new franchisees and keep the culture?
21:45 - Was there anything that happened with the franchising model that you guys really learned a lesson from?
24:49 - You guys have a pretty unique way of managing your vision, don't you?
26:26 - How close to that five-year goal did you hit your 30th city?
27:46 - So when does O2E [Brands] come about in relation to 1-800-Got-Junk?
Learn in the Way That Works Best for You
In the world of business, there're so many ways to learn. Brian’s style of learning had always been getting out and talking to mentors, finding real-life people who had been where he wanted to go and learn from them. It all depends on what you're doing. If you're learning to code, you don't necessarily need to go to college. If you're learning to be a doctor, you probably should. Lots of successful people have gone the route of the classroom and studying to get an MBA. Find the method that works best for you.
Overnight Success Stories Take a Long Time
As entrepreneurs, it's worth reminding ourselves that “overnight success stories” take a long time. It took Brian ten years to generate his first million dollars in revenue. There's so much talk of people getting into tech and building the next billion-dollar app, but those are truly unicorns. They do not happen very often. Real businesses are the ones that take time, take that passion that never wanes, and you're just constantly giving to try and really grow your company.
Systematize Your Business
Write down all your business processes into a documentation of how your brand does everything. Systematizing became the foundation for 1-800-Got-Junk’s scaling. Brian took everything in his business, how he answered the phone, how he price jobs, how he resolved customer complaints, how he marketed the business when things were slow or busy; and compiled it on a one-page checklist of “how you do this the 1-800-Got-Junk way”.
“Inspect What They're Expecting”
When it comes to customer service, always ask, “What we expect, is that getting delivered?” A CEO shouldn’t ever get so far away from the front lines. You have to connect. You have to check in and you have to “inspect what you expect”, even as you continue to grow a business.
The Keys to Growing a Business Successfully
“If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there”. It knows exactly where you're going. You don't have to figure out exactly how to get there until time starts progressing and you start figuring out the how. The vision is all about where you going. What's the destination?
Imagine pure possibility. What could the future look like if only you could imagine it? Write down on a sheet of paper that your business would look like, feel like, and how you’d act at a point in the future.
Example: The “painted picture” for 1-800-Got-Junk was a five-year vision that they would complete by December 31, 2003. It said they'd be in the top thirty metros in North America. It said they would be on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It said they would build the “FedEx of junk removal”, but with clean shiny trucks, friendly uniformed drivers. That painted picture compelled Brian to start seeing the future, and he shared it with friends, family, co-workers, and new hires so that everybody would see this vision and make a decision if they believed, or if they should be doing something different.
It's all about people. It's people that make businesses grow and succeed and thrive. Find the right people.
Ask yourself, who’s the team? What does the team look like? What are the right seats? Bring those people in who have the same shared passion for your vision and towards building something bigger together. Hire and train them. Give them love and support and everything they need to be successful. Treat them right. Never compromise on the quality of people that you bring into your organization.
However, keep in mind that no one will ever be as passionate about your business as you are.
What is an Entrepreneur?
Entrepreneur stands for two things: opening doors to a new opportunity and then working together, building something much bigger together than anyone would have ever chosen to build alone.
An entrepreneur is someone who isn't going solo. They're not flying solo. They're building something together and what's awesome about our entrepreneurs is once they've had their own runway and started becoming successful, they recognize that the fastest way for themselves to grow, is taking other employees they have and saying, “Hey, have you ever thought of running your own business, of living the American Dream? I think I can help”.
O2E Brands is a cheerleading organization. They set a vision and help everybody work together towards that common vision. They also provide opportunities. They open doors and say “Come on in. Take the risk”. They invest with entrepreneurs and help introduce them to people could partner with one another to build a successful moving business or shine-our-window and gutter cleaning business in a new market.
Fri, 12 August 2016
Andrei Mincov is the “trademark guy” and founder of Trademark Factory. He earned his PhD in law and worked for the biggest international law firm in Russia doing intellectual property work for the likes of Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, J. K. Rowling, DreamWorks and more. When Andrei moved to Canada, he went from being a hotshot lawyer to a nobody. It wasn’t until he read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad that he decided to start his own firm.
In this interview, Andrei teaches us about what a trademark does, and why it’s better to trademark before you launch your company rather than later. He also shares the story of how he became “the trademark guy” and how he challenged himself to become an entrepreneur.
In This Interview I Ask:
1:05 - How [did] you come to be the “trademark guy” in the Trademark Factory. What’s your story?
6:15 - How long ago did you join the biggest law firm in Russia?
15:00 - Why are trademarks important, and why are we wrong for not thinking about this stuff?
21:23 - You actually did some research on whether or not the top brands and the world were following [the saying “ideas are nothing”]. What did you find?
22:56 - Let’s say I’ve got a vision of building a lifestyle business, and it’s going to be $100k a year, roughly, is there any value in me going out and trademarking it if I have no intention of going bigger?
24:33 - Does [having a trademark] raise my value if I’m eventually going to sell a company? Is that going to allow me to get a bigger price for my business when I sell it?
27:42 - Are you educating people through your marketing on why they need trademarks or are you just doing traditional marketing in the traditional sense where you are making yourself known to people who are looking for a trademark?
32:46 - What is the cost [of trademarking] dependent on, or is there a flat cost for me to go out and get a trademark?
36:39 - Where can we go if we want to see some educational [trademark] cartoons?
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is anything that allows the market to tell your stuff apart from identical or similar products or services of your competitors.
The trademark has nothing to do with protecting the product or service itself but has everything to do with the way people identify it.
The more competitive the environment, the more important the branding becomes because everyone is doing the same thing. It’s so easy to copy those ideas so the only thing that will allow you to have the competitive advantage is to protect the brand.
“If you don’t protect your competitive advantage, you don’t have a competitive advantage.”
3 Reasons Why Protecting Your Trademark is Vital for Any Business
“If you’re running a business [and] you don’t think the value of the business is more than a few hundred thousand dollars, basically it’s a hobby. It’s not a business.”
Trademark Your Brand Before You Launch
All the big, hot startups (like Uber, Firefox, Facebook, Google, etc) filed their first trademark applications within the same month, if not many months, prior to launching. One thing that distinguishes these founders from other entrepreneurs is that they believed they could be the next big thing; so they did what potential big things do and protected their assets.
“Trademarks are all about timing. You need to be the first. Just because your trademark was available yesterday, doesn’t mean it’ll be available today.”
Trademarking is Not a Huge Investment
The cost of trademarking is marginal is compared to the cost of filing a patent. A patent typically requires tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life.
When determining if you should trademark or not, ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer is yes to all, then you don’t have a business.
How Trademarks Affect the Sale of Your Company
Whenever someone buys a company, they do their due diligence. They check competitors to see if your business may be infringing on someone else’s. They check to make sure all your logos and branding assets are protected. If everything is protected, it makes it easier for the buyer.
They’re not just buying your systems, but also your customers and the time that you invested building your brand. If they can’t take advantage of that, that’s a problem. The brand affects the value of the company.
Trademark Factory, website
Request Your Free Trademark Search, fill out the form
Trademark Educational Cartoons, website
Fri, 5 August 2016
Aaron Vidas is the founder and CEO of Strategy Box, a company that helps others companies find their most profitable customers and creates radically simple plans to help them grow.
In this interview, Aaron talks to us about the software he built to help B2B companies determine the ROI of their marketing. Aaron shares his journey from validating his idea to hiring someone else to execute on his minimum viable product. We learn the importance of evaluating the ROI of our marketing and how you can use Strategy Box's dashboard to see what’s working for you in your business.
In This Interview I Ask:
Minimum Viable Product
You need a condensed set of specifications of what your MVP needs to do. The functionalities don’t have to be your full vision. You just need to make sure it works solves a problem today. Also, make sure you can sell that version.
What is the ROI of Your Marketing?
You need to know the ROI of your marketing. You need to know what’s working and what’s not. You need to have a clear picture of every dollar and how much revenue you get back. The average CMO is using nine to twelve tools to figure out what’s going on in their marketing.
There is One Reason Someone is Buying
In any given B2B sale, there is literally one reason somebody is buying. It might they can get it faster. It might be the service is better, but there’s an itch that you’re scratching. That’s the 80% of the reason they’re buying. The other reasons are the 20%.
StrategyBox shows you what your company does this week in regards to what is driving revenue for you, and what is suck on revenue for you. That way you can evaluate what about your marketing and sales activities is working or not, and who is responsible for what within that.
StrategyBox’s intention is that if you are going to spend a dollar with them, they can provide you an insight or information that you can then go make an action and make eight to ten more dollars on.
StrategyBox’s ideal customers are B2B SaaS (software as a solution) and B2B professional services (ie: agency work, consulting) who spend a lot of money spend a lot of money on marketing and sales, but don’t necessarily know the performance of it. They can help you find leakage in your sales and marketing, even if you are getting leads. Customers who are not ideal are companies generating less than one million dollars in revenue.
Aaron Vidas.com, website
Strategy Box, website
Contact Aaron, email
CrazyEgg: Website Heatmaps, website
Zapier: App Automation, website