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Sept. 2, 2021

114. Save Time and Money with Solid Launch Strategy - Andrew Lees

How Launch Strategy Can Save You Years of Your Life and 10's of Thousands of Dollars


How Launch Strategy Can Save You Years of Your Life and 10's of Thousands of Dollars

 

ABOUT ANDREW

Andrew has a background in mechanical and aerospace engineering and runs a consulting business focused on helping entrepreneurs develop their products and launch strategy.

He uses his experience with launching his own products to guide people around the pitfalls of starting a new business and lays out a clear plan to success.

When he's not helping people develop and launch their products, Andrew loves to be outside playing basketball, surfing, or traveling with his wife.

 

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Transcript

There might actually not be another widget that does the same thing that your widget does. Exactly. However, there's always something that people are doing to solve that problem, and it could be some DIY hack. They're using masking tape and this and that they're literally hacking something together or they're figuring some other work around, but they are solving they're not waiting for you to solve their problem.

 

Welcome, everybody. Today. I'm excited to have Andrew Lees with us. Andrew is the host of the podcast show Co host actually, The Entrepreneur Life. And here's a background in mechanical and aerospace engineering. But the main reason I have them on and ask them to come on is to talk about how launch strategy can help you save years of your life and thousand to 10,000 of your dollars just by doing things right. So he helps entrepreneurs develop their products and their launch strategy. He uses experience with his own launch process to guide people around the pitfalls of starting a new business and to had a clear plan of success.

 

Thank you so much for joining us. Andrew on the show today.

 

Thank you. Wade. Yeah. It's really great to be on your show. I'm happy to be here and happy to talk to you about entrepreneurship and launch planning and anything else you want to talk about.

 

Awesome. Great. So a lot of times there's this say it's a myth that's already a judgment, but this image of the rugged entrepreneur that has this idea that wakes them up in the middle of the night, and they're going to do this magical thing, and they don't need guidance. They don't need to read a book. They're just going for it. And movies are made about this, and that happens. What may be, well, a small percentage of the time when people talk to you about having a launch strategy and that sort of stuff and starting a business, it might seem boring to summer.

 

It might even seem that it's not necessary. Why is it so important to have a solid strategy to launch a business and to get it going profitably?

 

Yeah. So first of all, I can talk from my experience. I did it without a plan. I started a product company called Grass Racks. We make and I still run that and own it. We make bamboo and Birch display racks for boards, bikes and skis. And I think about, like we're doing well now. We're starting to grow a lot faster now, but it's taking years. And I know very confidently that if I had more of a plan in the beginning, then I would have I would have known what to do earlier on.

 

And that's part of the problem is I didn't know what I needed to do to efficiently and effectively grow the business. Now, it still would not have happened overnight. That never happens. But definitely I'm very confident that I think we would have been where we are now. A couple of years ago, which is a huge difference, because if I had more of a plan, more of a strategy, then if we were where we are now a couple of years ago than today, Wade telling a different story.

 

I mean, it's good, but it could have been so much better. And we've definitely wasted thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars on different things that just didn't work and kind of mistakes that could have been avoided with a plan. So it's really important, and I should distinguish between what what the strategy that I put together for clients and like a formal business plan. I'm not a fan of formal business plans unless you need a loan from the bank. Also not a fan of taking a loan from a bank if you don't have to, because you're guaranteed to have to pay it back, but you're not guaranteed to have the money to pay it back with unless you are taking a loan out from a bank.

 

Or maybe if you're looking for some venture capital from some, some investors might require a formal business plan, but more likely they'll require pitch deck and some more in depth analysis of the business. Formal business plan is just it's very antiquated. People write them. They're typically like dozens of pages long, and they include a lot of speculation, a lot of words and not a lot of actionable things. That's the big problem, and that's what I want to be able to help people with is give them actionable items that they can work on in their business.

 

Awesome. That's a great, huge distinction. I remember I read when I first started out over 20 years ago. I read a consulting book and the author did a good job giving actionable items. But also, this is 20 years ago and everything was a tangible book. So the book had to have 200 pages in it or 150 pages in it. To justify being printed as a book, a similar to a business plan, there needs to be a certain amount of of to it. And if there's not there that people think, well, there might be something missing and to be really cleared yet Echo your statement, absolutely.

 

You're not going to avoid that. You're still going to make you're still going to make decisions to cost you thousands of hours or tens of thousands of dollars or whatever it might be those avoidable ones that really hurt it's when he looks at it, say, Gosh, if I had just done this very reasonable, normal thing that I could have research, let's say again, there's going to be certain things that get thrown your way that you say, Well, sometimes tell my wife when sometimes I couldn't have seen that happen unless I was psychic.

 

And so that doesn't hurt as much. It still hurts. It hurts financially and it hurts. But it's worse when you look at is saying, Gosh, this book that my friend recommended to me years ago, gosh, if I had just read that book or whatever it is, that that's such a big difference. And certainly your point about it being actionable. I know. I remember I did a consulting project once for a client, and it was on the sales process of theirs and some software. And the short version was I had a one page summary.

 

That was what they needed to do. But I still had to deliver the other 30 pages of paper because this was 20 years ago and it's for a Corporation. I couldn't just give them the one PC, and it would have been in their better interest to just read my one piece of paper 30 times. Then I would have to read all 30 pages once, and they probably think, oh, okay. That's almost a you weight. Okay. There's enough here. Great.

 

We can yeah. Justify. Yeah. I think people get hung up in different areas. Business, too. They get hung up on these vanity metrics. And I would say that that's a vanity metric that looks weighty enough. That looks like we should pay you X amount. You know, when the one page, the value that you pulled into the one page could have been worth, maybe even worth multiple times, the rest of the document them. And that's interesting. What you said about reading the one page 30 times would have been better than reading the 30 pages one time.

 

I think that's I think that speaks to because the other thing I was going to say is if you have if you have a strategy and you only look at it once, then it won't serve you because it's about businesses, about PC is about planning, testing and then adjusting. And if you're not testing and adjusting, if you're only just executing on one notion of how you think the business should run, then you're going to be in trouble very quickly, and you're not going to be able to adjust.

 

You'll hit a wall eventually, and you'll just throw your hands up and say, Well, I did the best I could with this. It's like, now if you're going to be successful, you're going to pivot and adjust and change things. You're going to create a business model, and you're going to definitely change some things in there. So in order to be successful, absolutely.

 

And to your point, Funnily enough to 30 pages were more of a narrative, and the one page was actionable items, shock and meat. That's the part that's easy to read the 30 pages and say, oh, yeah, that sounds great. Here's the ideas. Here's the reasons why. And the one page was here's exactly what needs to happen. These people need to do this. These people need to do this.

 

These people yeah.

 

And this is very clear. And the description of it was very open ended in the sense of it might be like, as I said, if it was a coach to say, well, okay. Our basketball team needs to work out for an hour every day and without even putting exactly what the workout needs to look like. And that was part of the 30 pages. But here's what needs to happen. It's like, oh, yeah, that sounds a lot like work about those 30 pages. Those sound really good.

 

Exactly. Yeah. If it's in theory, if you're thinking about it a task in theory and you're not, not when it gets boiled down and you've got that real task that you need to do and it's staring you in the face. Maybe it's intimidating to some people. But really, if you're trying to grow your business, that should be the most exciting thing is I just have to work hard and do this, and that's it. I think I think it's really important to kind of just get to the meat of what you need.

 

And it is it is difficult sometimes for some people and some businesses to understand that there doesn't have to be all this fluff. There shouldn't be all this fluff because it really distracts you from what the most important thing is. And and that there can be a lot of value in just cutting to the point. And just because you don't have you're able to fit everything on one page doesn't mean that wasn't a lot of work for you. It doesn't mean you didn't put a lot of thought energy in time.

 

You might have on the side written 30 pages for you that you use to cut down to the one, and it's all work. It's all a lot of work. And where you end up and is the most important thing I think about imagine you've had clients like this release applicants to be clients.

 

The person that says they don't want to read your $10 book, but they want to pay you a 1000 5000 $10,000, like will slow down. Don't get me wrong. I love the five or $10,000. You're not going to read the hundred page book. That might be a red flag, right? We're head in the wrong direction.

 

Right.

 

Question for you. How do you you mentioned a little bit. I'd like to hear more about your business with the rack. How did you figure out of still while you're developing this product, which a lot of people then seems okay. It's about the product, right? Because you're in a business that sells a product, how do you keep the audience and their wants for their needs before the product and yet do it in a way that balances that.

 

Yes.

 

You still have this vision of what this product is or service or whatever it might be, and you want to be able to share. And this is the part people say, oh, you're about sell it. No, I'm not saying sell out, but you maintain true to what it is that you want to deliver. And yet at the same time, balancing it with what people actually want. And yes, we'll actually pay for how do you balance that? And how do you factor that into your planning?

 

Yeah, that's a great question, because at the end of the day, you need to deliver a product or service that people are interested in, that they need. It has features that that will help them because you're trying to provide some kind of value to them. But you definitely have to figure out how am I going to help the most people? And you have to know that there's going to be some people that your product or service isn't going to isn't going to help. It's not going to be a good fit for them.

 

They might need something that you don't provide in your standard product or service. And you have to be okay with you do one or two things. You make it. So it's very custom for everybody, and that's a lot easier for service. If you're a consulting service, then you can do that. But if you're a product, like with our Rack products, we created a standard product. And then we did do some custom work for different people. And the custom work because maybe they wanted a standard product, but just with another feature or they wanted something longer, shorter, whatever.

 

And so we would try and accommodate certain customers. And it just became way, way, way too much work. The expectations all of a sudden, when you're doing something custom for somebody, they expect everything. And it just it just wasn't worth the Scoobies at all. We were able to. The ironic thing is that for a couple of custom projects that were larger, there were several thousand dollars, arguably, that kept us in business in the beginning. So sometimes you kind of need to take on those things that you don't that you don't necessarily want to scale with, but they just need to keep you a float.

 

But but at one point we just realize that we've made this standard product. We've figured out by getting feedback from customers. We tweaked the product over some time in the beginning, because that is that is important to your point that you have to you have to figure out what people want. But you can't go so far that you're making everything custom every time that you're getting distracted by trying to meet every single need of every single customer. But you definitely have to make sure that your product has a lot of value.

 

And once you kind of figure that out, when there's enough people, you get enough traction with your standard product or service. And there's enough people saying, hey, this is I can use this, let's say, to hang my skis. And it works really well. And it looks amazing. And the price point is good and enough that checks enough boxes for most people, then, you know, alright, this is it. I'm doubling down on this and I'm going to focus on selling this product, and you really then just have to kind of let the rest of the distractions go, because otherwise they can really weigh you down.

 

Yeah. I think of something. When I started doing software, I have that's a business. And my simple definition of a business I've heard this from different people is it is something that's repeatable that I could delegate to somebody else versus the coaching and consulting I do, which still makes money. And it's a coaching business, but it's my hours sort of a thing. Sure. But I remember when I first made the first time I did this, I created the software solution. The first job was custom by definition, because a client asked for it, and I charged.

 

I think it was like $2,000 or whatever it was. This is 20 years ago, and the second job was another person. They wanted a custom, and I hadn't yet seen a pattern. I didn't know more were coming. So that was about 2003rd. Guy was about 2000 or 1500, because I was able to now say, okay, I'm on take some of the software. That the coding I did the first time. And by the time I had the third one, I just said, okay, great. For the next person that came on, I said, Look, I've got this version of it that does PC of what these things do, and this is a renewal business model.

 

So I was doing $2,000 and then 200 renewal said, look, it'll be $600 and $200 renewal. And now that same software, I do what for either 500 a year or a thousand or whatever. But the long story short was to your point, getting to that point where the product at a good enough price point is good enough, because then when those custom people come in and I actually almost won't do it all, I'll do a couple of tweaks, like, I'll measure, I'll get into. Okay. Is it going to take me less than an hour to do this if it's less than an hour, and I'm going to keep a client lifetime value for five years on average?

 

Great. I'll do that. But otherwise, I'm sure you've experienced the customers expectations. Okay. You've built this thing, and it's taking you so many hours to build, and then they want just this one little thing. Yeah, just that one little thing. If you're by the way, if you're doing custom programming, what on charge them at least two to four times at least. And you still don't know if your experience that you still end up like you said, it takes your momentum because and definitely make sure you get paid up front.

 

Oh, my gosh. Because usually they've got this reason, this story that says, well, I'm special and I'm unique and I'm different. I'm like, dude, it's software to pay your team members. It's just not about like, this isn't a high address for the red carpet. It's not some life statement. It's software, man. Very often they're unique needs and desires. Is that they're kind of higher maintenance. To your point sometimes. Yes, you do need that because you say, okay, so the bills look about this big. And this check finally enough, like, well, check will be with this.

 

No. Next time, make the check back, make it at least bigger. So you say, okay, great. We'll get a month in here because those are the clients. Like you say, I paid more and I paid PC more. Do you realize what that means? I paid more. You're thinking, oh, my God, to please go. And I don't know about you. They get on my list, like, the person that I want to not have a year from now, they're already on my list. It's like, yeah, dude, what was about the 99 things about this product that that one thing had to have you say, Well, no, it's missing this one thing.

 

Okay, well, for four times the amount we'll create four times now, yes, because we've got to do it right. And no different than your practice. If it doesn't work right, well, then you're going to say it's a bad product, and now you've paid me more. And now you're going to go out and tell me, tell people that my product stinks, and then I've got to fix it. Oh, Jeez. Exactly. Those listing for the rent. But if you think of painful listening to me talk about it, think living it.

 

Yeah, exactly. I feel your pain. I've lived through some bad clients for my consulting business because I also do product development consulting. Yeah, I've lived through the bad clients, the very needy clients. And a product is great where if you you can standardize it and you can figure out what it is that most people need, the most people then will buy it, and you're not going to get everybody, but you don't have to. Yeah. When you're doing something custom. But I think some people don't realize, especially with the product development work that I do realize is that something could take 10 hours, but it might take 100.

 

I don't know yet until you really get into it. And it's hard to say something might look simple for software. I don't know very much about software. So I might come to you and say, hey, I've got this idea for a program or an app or something. It's really, really simple. And I know you'd cringe, because whenever somebody says that right out of the gate, I'm like, red flag. They think it's super simple. Every once in a while, it really is. I'm like, oh, wow, you weren't lying.

 

This is incredibly simple. I've done this a thousand times, but most times you're doing something that never has been done exactly that way before. And when that happens, it's a major time sync, and that's fine. If that's your business model and you really want to you're doing something very customized with my launch strategy service. What's nice about that is kind of from a business perspective, is that it's customized for each client and each product that they're launching, because everything everything is a little different in the approach in your approach to launching it.

 

But it's also a lot of it is roughly within the same framework. And so I can I can be pretty efficient with how I put them together. It's still what I'm doing in my in depth market research that takes a lot of time. I'll do keyword analysis for because that's SaaS. You know, such an important part of marketing is knowing what are the things that people are searching for? Where are they searching for them? Why are they searching for them? And if you know those keywords, you can apply that to a lot of your marketing efforts.

 

From from pay per click to content, blogs, videos, everything, everything. That takes a lot of time, too. But there are definitely elements where I can I can basically, I already have a good framework set up, so I don't have to customize every little detail of it. But a lot of product development I do. I'm starting from scratch, like a clean slate, you know.

 

Yeah, I think that's a good mix. I found specifically my business, the software only client is good. But, you know, people do have the fear that if I have a software or a product, a widget, and that's all I have, that someone can steal the business. And the answer is yes, they can. And that's where I find at least when I also have some sort of coaching relationship or advising relationship and the two together. Now I'm benefiting from that unique information, which, again, also could be put in an online course or something.

 

Where to your point, there can be a framework, I think of coaching versus, let's say, consulting consulting is here's how you do X, it's very specific. It's more almost even like training, whereas coaching is like, okay, if you want to go here, here's the big picture. Steps here is still the seven steps or eight steps or whatever it might be. The person can put their voice in there and you can involve them in that. And so it's sort of that I forgot. The word is mass customization, where you have enough of it, that's a framework and net to them.

 

What do you find when you work with people? Are there most common mistakes when they're launching a new product?

 

The first most common mistake is not doing enough in market research is really not figuring out what the what their competitors are, even what comparative products are out there, what the price points are, where those products are being distributed through, and what features and how people respond to them. And you can do a lot by going on doing Google search and finding competitive products, looking at the reviews going on Amazon, looking at the reviews there looking at all the different features that they have, and really trying to figure out what you're trying to do is figure out where your product fits in the market, how it should be priced, what your value proposition is relative to your competitors.

 

And then who is your customer? Like, who's your ideal customer? Who's the person who who is it's like a no brainer. They're going to buy your product. And I think people don't do enough of that. The other thing that I hear a lot is there's no competition for my product. You know, this is my favorite one.

 

This is so unique. You've never seen anything like this. Pc do this.

 

Yeah. And what I tell people is that there might actually not be another widget that does the same thing that your widget does. Exactly. However, there's always something that people are doing to solve that problem. And it could be some DIY hack. They're using masking tape and this and that they're literally hacking something together or they're figuring some other work around, but they are solving. They're not waiting for you to solve their problem. Like, I use the example of clothes washing before the wash machine came along.

 

People just wash their clothes by hand. That's how they did it. And that worked fine. Took a while. But, you know, they weren't waiting for the washing machine to come around. Then when the wash machine came around, that's great. But you've got to pay all this money. It's like washing washboard or whatever. And in a pan or a bucket to wash your clothes in costs, like, a fraction of a fraction of what a washing machine costs. So if you're marketing a washing machine, you can say, yeah, there's no competition for it.

 

There's no other I don't know who came up with the first washing machine. Let's just say GE, they're like, this has never been done before. Yeah, it's never been done before. But you're not the first person to ever wash clothes. So how do you convince people that you have to convince them that they should pay a lot more money than what they're already paying for the convenience? And how do you do that? And that's part of the challenge. And that's not a trivial challenge.

 

Yeah. I think a lot of people get excited about their products, and that's great. I do that still struggle at times to get over my domain. Buying happens. You get an idea. It's like, nobody's going to do this. Okay? Blah, blah, blah, blah, dot com. And then and later, you see. So and so is coming up for renewal. You're like, oh, wow, I've been done. Yeah, it's still a great idea. But you know what? I'm not gonna get to it. Or. Yeah, it really was that special.

 

How come nobody got us? That was a Catch 22 domain. If it's great, then somebody already bought. And if nobody bought, it, like, well, nobody wants it. It's only worth $15 now.

 

Yeah.

 

It's kind of tough, but yeah, it's very difficult to decide. Are they going to make that leap? And one of the things I find that people are so, you know, I talked about on the pre interview is they're listening to a lot of people. And you said to me a very similar concept of being careful who you're listening to, because there are a lot of opinions out there. And I think maybe other than perhaps marriage advice, no other advice, perhaps can be more costly if you're wrong.

 

And there's a lot of fundamentals out there. But there's actually a lot of people saying the same wrong thing sometimes, too, because one sells it and it's making money. And then other people come out and they say the same thing, and they're saying the same thing as this makes money. And very often it's not that the person is malicious. They maybe have incomplete information, or do they have a blind spot? They didn't realize that it wasn't this one thing that caused success. It was these three variables.

 

But they knew that they did the one thing, and maybe they were either subconsciously already doing the other two things or something of that nature. How do you help people when they're coming to you with perhaps unrealistic expectations? How do you help them team those? And then how do you be careful about who you're listening to as an entrepreneur?

 

Yeah. I mean, that's a great question. There is. And I'm constantly doing research. So there is a lot of there's a lot of information out there, you know, good and bad. And it's tough to know what's good and what's bad, who's telling the truth. And I think you're right. I think that I think most people aren't being malicious in distributing some information, but they don't have the full picture. They don't really maybe realize that what they're saying is just kind of BS or it's not very helpful or whatever.

 

Maybe they've never actually launched a product before. But like you said, they're like they see other people making money over here. And they're like, I'm just going to teach this. I'm just going to do some research on it and teach it. And I'm going to make some money, too. So I do try and debunk myths as much as I can when I'm talking to my clients. I really love talking them through through the process. And I love talking about business and how to launch a product, how to develop a product.

 

And so I hear a lot of well, I watch a lot of shark tank, and I'm like, that is awesome. But the just the tip of the iceberg, you know, there's so much more to it. It's like you've got to know your numbers. Okay. What does that mean? Let's dig into that. What are your manufacturing costs? What are your shipping costs? Fulfillment. Kidding. Fulfillment, customer service. Then what are your marketing acquisition costs? All this. There's so much to know. And so I basically I just go, I'm constantly learning.

 

So I think that's important. I don't have all the answers for every business, every product. I don't think anybody does. Then I think if anybody pretends like they do, then that's a red flag. So you should avoid that. I'm constantly learning. Whatever I learn, I'm passing on to my clients that's just making my service stronger. And I'm just trying to if somebody comes to me and ask me a question that I'll about, something that they've heard, and I know that it's maybe a myth or that it's not completely accurate, I'll definitely explain it to them.

 

And maybe it's something that I'm not 100% sure whether it's right or not. And then I'll go and research it. So I'm definitely learning all the time. But so I'm trying to then help my clients with what I've learned and try and PC myself, cut through the BS and figure out why is this right? And that's wrong, because sometimes you look at something on the surface and it makes sense. It seems like it makes sense that it would be correct. But then if you dig a little deeper or if you have experience with that thing, you say, yeah, it seems like that would be the case.

 

But here's why it's not, because I've experienced that where I've done enough research to figure out why that's not the case.

 

Yeah. That's one of the things I tell people is one of the best ways if you're interviewing potential coach or consultant would be to say, what are three things that seem like a good idea that just don't work because there's a lot of them. There's a lot of things that make logical sense. And you can not everything that's logical is right. You can have a fault. You can have faulty logic. You can say, Well, a bed, and it's like, no, but that's just not what happens in real life, because also God is great and beer is good, and people are crazy.

 

So throw that in there. And a lot of things that seem like they're gonna work again can be very well thought out and have this sort of textbook philosophical sense that they're going to work if they don't, how do you help people avoid the myth that they can buy their way into a business? Because I think of this, especially in your field, you must run out. I usually deal with people that have established businesses, and so very often they've kind of gotten past that sense, though.

 

I do have clients that sometimes, again, think that if they write me a big enough check, that they don't have to do the work right, you do the pushups, you still do the sit ups, whatever it is you still have to execute. How do you avoid that myth? And then how do you of being able to buy a way in business. And how do you consult people on that if they really are passionate about something, but they're kind of over estimating that.

 

Yeah. So I think it depends on how you plan on buying into a business. I think there's some things you can do that can get you that you can invest. You can invest money into some things that will get you a lot further down the road than others. Like, let's say you buy you're going to start a carpet cleaning business, and you buy a blog that has 50,000 views a month on relevant carpet cleaning topics. Then that might be a great investment. If you have the cash and you figure out how much you think you can make on that traffic over time, and it works out.

 

As long as you're able to recoup that investment in a reasonable amount of time, then that could make sense, but it's not going to keep you from doing work forever. I mean, that's maybe just a good starting point, but you're usually going to have to put in a good amount of work yourself. And it really is going to be unless you have a lot of cash and you really are treating the business as you are just an investor. You don't need to make money for a while.

 

You might cash out at the end, and that's okay with you. You don't have to make a lot of money in the interim while you're building value, and you're okay to pay everything, everybody else to do everything. Then that can be one strategy, but definitely I wouldn't. You're not going to pay. You're not going to just pay a bunch of people to do everything and just sit back at the time and just make a bunch of money. That just won't happen.

 

It just a weird thing unless you have some sort of relationship or your set up or your parents are independently wealthy, and they hope those few circumstances, but for the average mortal, that's not going to happen.

 

Yeah. Exactly.

 

One of the things we talked about the pre interview was needle movers and making sure that we're focusing on those as opposed to some of the shiny objects and shiny objects. I'm going to be really clear in my definition of shiny objects just for those listening, too, because shiny objects, people usually think a shiny object is something that's completely unrelated, that's easy to identify. And my experience is that whole good versus great. That the enemy of great is good, that that can steal your attention. So it's not.

 

Well, I run. I don't know the carpet cleaning business now spending time on Facebook. That's a shiny object. Okay, that's easy to see. Going over looking at ESPN for the scores. That's a shiny object. This other content I'm consuming by this person who's not in the carpet cleaning business. It's not going to help me grow my carpet cleaning business. It's about something else that's a shiny object to, as opposed to those number of things. How do you identify those needle movers? And how do you stay focused on those?

 

How do you do that? And how do you advise people to do that?

 

Saas entrepreneurs, we're constantly battling that. I think right. There's so many different ways of doing everything, and that's part of it. That's part of the strategy is figuring out for your product or service. What do we think is the most efficient way to really move the needle? Like you said, because at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. And when people refer to moving the needle, that just means having a significant increase in business. If I spent 100 hours doing something that grows my business by PC, I mean, it depends on how big the business is, obviously, but that's usually that's not going to do that.

 

That doesn't help that much. But if you spend 100 hours doing something that improves the business, maybe PC, or maybe then that could be that could have massive gains over the long run. So the first thing is figuring out, what is it that can really get you more business? Once you have your product figured out and you've got enough feedback, it's been out in the market long enough that people are buying it, and you know that you have a good product, then it's really like, what are the key things that can help that can help grow your business in a significant way?

 

That doesn't mean that you're going to ten X your business in a month, but that means that over time, you're doing these things that really help in a significant way. I can kind of give you an example of that. And hopefully I'm not getting too off track here.

 

But I actually love examples. Even better, because, again, that's how people can contextualize things, so absolutely. Please.

 

Yeah. So with grass racks, we only saw online, our cost of goods are high enough that we can't, at least for now. And then we're working on this, but we can't right now sell into retailers, into brick and mortar stores, which in the world we live in right now. That's okay for us. Selling online is all online is okay. We don't get those volume mortars that we would if we were selling into, like, a Dick or something, but we are able to keep still, keep our prices reasonable and have a more direct relationship with our customer.

 

But it is difficult because you're not getting volume mortars. You're selling one at a time, one product at a time. And so what are the things that can really help you do that? We we spend some time on Instagram. We're being more consistent about it, and we're starting to see some results. But when you look at the numbers for right now and we're going to keep working on it, but we got to be careful that we don't spend way too much time on it, because when you actually look at the clicks back from Instagram to our website and the purchases that are made, there aren't many on interest.

 

On the other hand, we're doing really well. We're getting a lot of impressions, a lot of clicks, a lot of saves and shares that that's our social media platform that really works for us. But then there's other things we can do that we're working on that, I think can really when we think about really moving the needle for the business and really being able to scale is by working with board manufacturers and bike manufacturers. So with basically an affiliate program that is sort of like a tangible affiliate program.

 

So a few months ago, we got some knives sharpened by a company called Nihad, and we standing there was actually speaking of Shark Tank, I think that was on Shark Tank. So we sent our knives out. They send you a package, send your knives out, they sharpen it, they send it back. When they send them back, there was a discount code for off of I actually can't remember what it was now, but it was I think it was preprepped food service, like 10% off, something like that.

 

And that's genius, because it's so relevant. I just got my knives sharpened, and now I'm getting 10% off this thing. I might do that. So that's something that we think it'll be a lot of work, but we think could be really impactful for the business to work with board manufacturers, ski manufacturers, and bike manufacturers to do the same thing. When they ship out a product, we send them a little card that they put into each order. It's barely anything for them to do. The customer gets a discount, and then the manufacturer will give them a Commission on every sale.

 

And for them, it's an extra few Bucks. It's easy to do, and it just increases their lifetime value of every single customer by almost doing nothing extra. And then we get all these sales, because if you just bought a couple PC of surfboards, where are you going to put them? You need a rack for it. So there we are right there. So there's things like that that I think can really move the needle. And then there's other things that we have to be careful of for that business is like Instagram.

 

It's great. It can be helpful to at least build awareness and give us some credibility. But we have to be careful about how much time we spend on it, because if it doesn't increase sales, then it's not something that we can spend too much time on.

 

For me, the social media channel about a year ago, I went a year and a half ago, I went all in for about four or five month period, and I realize that's not enough. So for those listings, but what I saw in four and five months was enough for me to say, okay, I'm putting this on pause. Was that, yes, I was putting in a lot of time into and I was tryin to hit all the channels. And that was probably my biggest mistake. I was trying to hit Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, all at the same time, YouTube.

 

First of all, in my case, a lot of my stuff is B to B. So not all of my clients and a lot of my clients are close to my age. I'm 49. So a lot of my clients were not necessarily as active or at least making buying decisions on Instagram or even Twitter as much. And there was this sense of accomplishment, because also, I like creating stuff like a lot of entrepreneurs. So I felt like, great. I just put out something I remember telling one of the freelancers that was worth me.

 

I want to put out beautiful content in the sense of high quality, that if somebody looks at it, they might say, okay, Wade doesn't put out 100 pieces of something, but when he puts out something, it's good. And we did that. But to your point, very similar experience. And it's not a knock on Instagram. It also depends on what space you're in and what you're doing. But a lot of likes, but I can't eat like the grocery store won't accept, like, a payment. Now I for a while, was high date.

 

Somebody likes it somewhere. And then, of course, in the specific to Instagram, it's a less validated network. I feel like I'm hating on Instagram. I'm not trying to, but like, LinkedIn is your resume like LinkedIn. If somebody likes something of yours on LinkedIn or comments, chances are it's that person Instagram. It might be a bot. It might be somebody that's liking your things about to come to try to sell you their service, of getting you more likes.

 

That's true. Yeah.

 

And again, there's some things like that, but just in general, to your point, it feels like working. That's the part. I think that's the toughest, because it's almost like the the Wolf in sheep's clothing, shiny object work like you feel like. But it's almost like you wanna look for the entrepreneur. God, but I'm working.

 

I'm trying something.

 

I'm not being bad. I'm not watching stupid videos. I'm working. And ultimately, the market still says that I don't care. And it's really the customer that says not in a dispassionate way, not in a mean way, but but I want PC and you're talking about 50 other things. And is somebody who's not strong on research and and discipline is the word, and I'm becoming more. You get your butt kicked enough by not doing research and you start research. It doesn't excite me as much. And yet for those of you who don't like research, something I found is the more I research, then it does give me better ideas.

 

So I'm also realizing people say, trust your gut. If you ask me to do brain surgery, I don't have a lot of information there. So me trouble. I gotten doing brain surgery. I got trust my gut or not.

 

On the other hand.

 

Something that I know a lot about. Yes, trust my gut because my guts informed. My intuition is very informed. I think that's something where when people talk about growth hacks or who you listen to as entrepreneur, like you said, there's certain red flags when somebody says, here's the greatest thing ever that's never been done before, and it makes so much money that I'm giving it to you. You're like, yeah, because you wouldn't just hide that and do it yourself if you could. Obviously, that's perhaps a bit of a red flag find fundamentally sound growth hacks that help you accelerate the growth of your business.

 

And how do you do that at times, either with or without paying for ads? And what's the pros or concept? Because you just mentioned one part in case people didn't see it. What you just clearly identified was the danger of over investing time, which, of course, your time still cost you money and lost opportunity somewhere. People miss this, but I didn't invest money. But you just invested 400 hours. And you guys, let's say very little back. How do you find growth tax that help you accelerate, knowing that they're going to be solid?

 

And then do you do that with ads? You deal without ads. And how do you advise people on that?

 

Yeah. Great question. Because we want to not just not waste our money. We don't want to waste our money, but we also don't want to waste our time. And a lot of a lot of businesses when they're first starting out, especially if they run by, let's say, a solopreneur type person. You know, they don't have a lot of money to put into the business, but what they do have is time. You've got money and time, and you kind of balance both of those, right in the beginning.

 

And I think one of the most powerful ways of growing a business that gets overlooked now with pay per click. Everybody's talking about pay per click and an SEO, but there's so much on you'll run this ad, you'll spend a dollar and you'll make two. I'll do that all day long. I'll run that until it's broken. And that's cool. And that can accelerate your business growth. But something that a lot of people aren't talking about is outreach is just manual grinding outreach. And my advice is to create a list of people who you think can help, who can help get your message out there, who can help, maybe refer the ultimate SaaS finding, basically, an affiliate is finding somebody who will refer business to you, and they'll do it.

 

If you've got let's say ten people are referring business to you, then you're not having to work finding that business and not only that, but they probably have some level of trust built up with the customer already. So the customer trust them by Association. If they're referring to you, there's already trust there, which is so, so powerful. So you don't have to work as hard on an ongoing basis to build that trust. And I think that's a way like that sort of growth hack that I was talking about with grass racks for a product company that is kind of the outreach that that I would do with a product company is find the other businesses who can help for business to you, give them a cut.

 

Don't be greedy, you know, but if you're only paying a percentage of the sales, that when you're making them. I'll take that deal all day long. So I think outreach is something that is something anybody can do. You can put a list together of people who can help you out and just go through the list and just be persistent.

 

Yeah, I think a lot of people forget to your point, when you pay for advertising, it's like taking a loan from the bank. You might not get it back, but you paid it. Saas, and in case for those of all who are thinking startup and give you real quick, definite myth. And I've succumbed to this many times is. Well, you know what? If you got to spend money to make money, therefore, if I spend money, I'm going to make money. Nope. You can entrepreneur. God, just throw $10,000 in PC ads or whatever it is.

 

Is it coming back? Maybe me. And when you have an affiliate type relationship to your point, for those who are not familiar, that it's where you have somebody in affiliate is someone that represents you are just for a small time, they just sort of refer somebody else and say, hey, Andrew has this, as he mentioned, the knives then referred the food service. Well, you're only paying that sales Commission or that affiliate Commission if a sales. Wade, and the simplest math is, well, if you were to hire a sales person, what would you pay that person?

 

What? Wade, I pay them a salary. And this I said, no, you didn't have to pay my salary. What if it was just a Commission? Only salesperson? You only will wait. I pay that for sure.

 

It depends.

 

With physical products, it might be harder. Digital products. You can't afford PC because it's of what you weren't going to get anyway. Exactly. It doesn't have to be that number, and it can be based on the lifetime value. But like anything else, the better you treat your affiliates, the more abundant you are with them, the more they're going to want to send business your way. They're probably in to make a good buck to. But there's so many ways you can do that. At the very least, you're leveraging.

 

Like you said, it truly is win win. That person say, I'm doing this one transaction of sharpening these knives, and that's all I can make off this person. I'm selling this food service. That's all I got. And just with the back and forth, literally, it becomes one plus one can equal three in that sort of situation where you can have more come from, that.

 

Yeah, definitely. And it's an ongoing that business will keep coming in as long as they're incentivized enough to continue to refer people. And maybe they write a blog article, maybe they do a review or a video or something, which helps your SEO, which is kind of the next thing that I would dig into before PC. If you don't have a lot of money to play with, and it's going to it's going to keep coming in and kind of going back to Instagram, not to completely keep batching them, because I actually really do like Instagram.

 

But we've reached out to influencers. Influencer is an affiliate marketer. It's the same thing. They're just on a social platform. That's kind of just the social buzzword. And also, I think probably the career choice of a lot of kids these days. I want to be an influencer. We've reached out to a bunch of influencers, and some of them, they want the way that their model works is it's a pay per post, and so you pay every time they post something. And for me, that just doesn't work, especially now, because they're taking advantage of the fact that it's social media or influencer.

 

Marketing is like the Wild West. Nobody knows exactly how to value it, yet companies are starting to get better. What happens is big companies come in that aren't as tight on the purse strings. And they're like, well, we're going to spend $100,000 over here. We'll give this influencer 20,000, this influencer 30, we'll get some more exposure. Our return might not be for five years, and they don't care. $100,000. Companies making enough doesn't matter. But when you need a return and you need it quickly, that just doesn't work.

 

And then what they'll do is sometimes they'll come back and they'll say, well, it's $500 a post. I'm like, Well, what if I give you whatever it is PC for every single sale you refer so forever, like, instead of making that $500 for this one post, what if you just make it this percentage? And then sometimes some people go for that. And those are the ones that I want to work with. But the ones who don't, it's like they're talking about how valuable their audience is to you when you're going to pay them $500.

 

As soon as you start talking about a Commission, they're like, it doesn't work for me. It's like, hey, wait, I thought you said your audience was super valuable. So if it is put your money where your mouth is, if it's really valuable to me, then it's really valuable to you because you'll get all this Commission. Yeah. You definitely have to be careful there. And I think we're starting to figure out starting to kind of dial the value in, and it's starting. The playing field is getting level a little bit, but it's going to take a lot of the time for that to happen.

 

Yeah.

 

There's still always the glamour effect of So. And So was endorsing my product, and that sounds great, but it doesn't necessarily convert PC question for you, final your thoughts on somebody that's about to consider creating their launch plan. Where should they start first? What should they first be doing? You hear a lot of these stories about the paper napkin entrepreneur, and they just wrote it on a piece of paper. And again, a lot of this sounds great. Sounds. And that's part of it to be really clear that is you get an idea of the Milton, whatever.

 

Where should a person start? What's their first step if they're making a launch plan or just a product plan?

 

Yeah. Research, market research. Figure out who your competition is and figure out who your ideal customer is. And make sure that whatever, make sure that the problems that they have or problems that you're solving, and really, that's the most important thing. If you can nail those two things, then then everything else I was going to say gravy, it's not it's a lot of hard work, but everything else is totally doable. But if you can't figure out, you know, how you're going to compete in the market and who your ideal customer is, then if you don't know those things really, really well, then you're going to have a hard time launching any product or service.

 

Yeah. And that's for those of you. If you're going to relisten to this same part, that's the one page that you want to listen to a bunch or read a bunch of times, because if you're not doing those three things, at least those are not the only three things by any stretch. But those three things, any one of those, if you get them wrong, will will significantly hurt your chances, or at least make it way more painful than it needs to be.

 

Exactly. So much.

 

Andrew were a problem. Find out about you about your podcast, your consulting working people get in touch with.

 

Yeah.

 

You.

 

So the consulting launch strategy service is Stoke strategies dot com S-T-O-K-E Strategies and also Stoke Ventures dot com is a product development. And then for my podcast is the one that I co host. That is that entrepreneur Life com. Yeah. Wait, I really appreciate you having me on the show. It's been a lot of fun.

 

Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing your insights. And for those of you all. Again, check out what he's up to. Check out the podcast. And I always look forward to helping you help more people make more money and less time, do what you do best. So you can better enjoy your family your friends in your life. Thanks for listening.

 

Andrew Lees

Product Development and Launch Strategy

Andrew has a background in mechanical and aerospace engineering and runs a consulting business focused on helping entrepreneurs develop their products and launch strategy.
He uses his experience with launching his own products to guide people around the pitfalls of starting a new business and lays out a clear plan to success.
When he's not helping people develop and launch their products, Andrew loves to be outside playing basketball, surfing, or traveling with his wife.