How to Get Things Done With a Remote Team

Steve Jobs is famous for the quote “Real artists ship.”

He was referring to the fact that everyone has ideas, but real artists deliver on them or ship them, as he put it.

According to the folklore at Apple, this was a favorite saying meaning you have to have the guts to actually deliver when it's time to deliver.

While we haven’t yet defined a set of core values at NinjaOutreach, if I had to start with something, this would probably be near the top of my list.

What I’d like to do is explain first, why, fundamentally I believe we have an uphill battle with “shipping” and what we can do to change that.

First, Why Does Shipping Matter?

While it may seem obvious as to why shipping matters, I think it’s worth reiterating.

There’s too much credit given to things being 50% done, or 99% done.

In fact, I really think ‘Done’ and percentages between 0 and 100 should never be allowed to be together; like raisins and cookies - fine on their own, but terrible when combined.

Done is binary - it’s a 1 or a 0 - something is Done or it’s Not Done, and nothing in between ever matters.

  • Users don’t benefit from a feature that’s half done.
  • The business doesn’t benefit from an asset or a redesign that’s 99% done.
  • Employees do not get credit for almost completing a lot of tasks.

Therefore, we must start prioritizing done over everything else.

We must starting thinking that it’s better to finish something that is low priority, but near completion, than to switch gears to start a higher priority issue from scratch, only to the switch back later to finish the original thing, and delay the finish date of all tasks.

So, How Do Things Get Done?

Have you ever thought about how things actually get done?

Consider a project that, in total, should take around 8 hours to complete.

Theoretically, it could be finished in the following ways:

1 Individual works 8 hours in one day and ships it at the end -
Time to complete: 8 hours

1 Individual works 1 hour per day for 8 days
Time to complete: ~168 hours (7 days * 24 hours)

The difference in the two scenarios is 160 hours - think about what can happen in that time?

In our business about 100 people sign up a week.

If this was an onboarding feature, or a welcome video, that’s 100 people that could have been impacted - but weren’t!

This scenario, by the way, is sort of the best case scenario, as it only involves one person fully in control of their time.

Imagine what happens when another person in a different time zone is thrown into the mix, as is usually the case for anything of significant value.

For example, consider a hypothetical product feature that is going to take the following amount of time:

  • 16 hours of development
  • 1 hour of bug review
  • 2 hours of bug fixing
  • .5 hours of a final review

Let’s assume 8 hours days, which in and of itself, is a bit of a stretch. In an ideal world, if a developer worked two full uninterrupted days, the feature was reviewed immediately, and then the following day the bugs were fixed, combined with a final review, this feature would take about 2.5 days to launch.

But here’s the thing:

  • Uninterrupted days rarely happen
  • Bug fixing and reviews are rarely immediate
  • People in different time zones rarely match up coincidentally
  • Weekends happen
  • Work, spread over a long period of time, takes longer as you naturally have to catch yourself back up

As a result, what typically happens is something like this:

  • Day 1 - Developer works on the feature for 3 hours
  • Day 2 - Developer works on the feature for 6 hours
  • Day 3 - Developer works on the feature for 1 hour
  • Day 4 - Weekend
  • Day 5 - Weekend
  • Day 6 - Developer works on the feature for 6 hours
  • Day 7 - Developer works on the feature for 2 hours extra to account for the fact that working on a feature for over a week requires additional time to think, remember, get in the zone, etc
  • Day 8 - Reviewer is busy with other project so no review gets done this day
  • Day 9 - Review takes place, bugs are listed
  • Day 10 - Developer fixes bugs
  • Day 11 - Weekend
  • Day 12 - Weekend
  • Day 13 - Final review takes place and feature is launched (maybe)

The result is something that resembles closer to two weeks as opposed to two days.

Mind you, this could easily extend even further, if for example, the product development cycle decides to change launches to being only once a week (something we are planning on doing), which would extend this another 5-7 days.

If you think this is only an issue related to product development - think again. This scenario could easily exist between two marketers, a marketer and a designer, a marketer and an external client / contractor, etc.

Now imagine how it might look with 3 or more people involved...I think you get the idea.

The difference between 13 days and 2.5 days is what I call ‘space’ and it’s virtually the enemy of businesses in general.

Our goal is the minimize it at all costs, because despite the fact that all people are working and making progress on some tasks during this time period, the end result is that typically the most important / high value tasks (which often involve multiple people and take the longest), are getting done the slowest.

Considering that the value of something is measured over its lifetime of being live - that’s a lot of lost value.

The Problem With Remote Team And Space

The paradoxical nature of business is that the more people get involved in a project, the slower it goes.

Overall, of course, the net output of things getting done is usually higher, but with diseconomies of scale.

That is to say, that doubling the people working rarely doubles the amount of things that get done - instead maybe it’s something like 1.3x.

It’s no wonder why I feel that we as a company are operating at the slowest pace we’ve ever been.

Startups, in theory, are supposed to be agile and to get things done much quicker than large bureaucracies like Microsoft.

This is because there are less hurdles that are needed to get something approved, implemented, etc.

The exception to this are remote startups - which operate notoriously slowly. Here’s why:

  • Different time zones make it difficult for everyone to meet. A meeting that could happen today, instead, has to be planned out several days in advance. Sometimes, people can’t even sync up to plan to sync up!
  • Instead of hopping on a call, peoples’ default is to leave chats to each other, or notes on a Trello card. This is useful when the person is not around, but often ends up creating a game of “phone tag”, in which basically notes are left to each other over and over.

Consider just a few things that are still unfinished at NinjaOutreach:

  1. The eBook task, which was started in December
  2. The redesign of the services pages, which was started in January.
  3. The influencer marketing place, which was started in March
  4. Implementation of the new onboarding flow, which probably should have taken 3-4 days and is now on week 3.

To name but a few of the many tasks in our Trello board that are overdue or have had to have their dates changed so as not to look so behind.

But really, just about every task has some sort of unnecessary space in it - which to some extent is normal and to be expected, but I think we can do much better.

How To Get Things Done Faster

So, what’s the solution?

Well, here’s a few things you can and should do to quicken the pace at which things get done.

Act Immediately

The best thing you can do is always to act immediately.

If we just discussed a task, or we just finished a meeting, and the next steps are clear and they involve someone else, then immediately act on reaching out to them, setting up a time, or getting an understanding of their current bandwidth / schedule.

Don’t wait!

Schedule Meetings As Often As Needed And In Advance

Be quick to schedule meetings. Remember, you don't need someone’s permission to schedule a meeting with them.

The extra communication to confirm a good time just creates unnecessary space.

If you can’t get ahold of someone via chat then just send them a calendar invite for a time that is convenient for you and appears reasonable for them given their time zone (keep it 9-5), chances are they can be flexible enough that, with advanced notice, they can make it happen.

Additionally, you can follow up in chat to let them know about the invitation and throw out some optional times they can reschedule to in case it doesn’t work.

Then schedule meetings with Mark and I to discuss progress on a particular task, which will hold you accountable to getting things done in a timely manner and hold the other person accountable on delivering.

The key to effective meetings are to

  • Keep them short
  • Only involve the necessary people
  • Have a clear agenda

If you do those three things, have meetings as much as you need.

Think Ahead

Let’s say you know you’re going to have a meeting with myself or Mark and that a decision will likely come out of that.

Instead of waiting for that decision to happen and then saying,

“OK, now what?”

Think about whether or not you can schedule the next step beforehand.

For example, even if you don’t know what the decision will be, you might already know who it will involve, which is enough to get you started and scheduling that meeting in advance.

Hassle People

Look, internally I understand that no one wants to be “that guy” - the guy who is always bothering people asking when something is going to be finished, etc.

Although, I think just about everyone could stand to be a little more of a “that guy” than they are currently being.

Regardless, for the few people that often go outside of the internal team aka to work with Hau, or something related to business development, or a freelance designer or writer - then it is not just OK, but encouraged to be “that guy”, because ultimately it is your responsibility to get things done and make sure your work is prioritized by everyone who is involved.

That guy might be annoying, but he gets shit done.

Launch Smaller

Getting large projects done is hard because they’re large - but what if they were smaller?

While it might not be possible to ship an incomplete ebook, there are certain tasks, particularly with product development, that can be shipped in parts.

Think of things in terms of the MVP - Minimum Viable Product, aka the smallest, acceptable form in which something could reasonably be shown to the end user or partner.

Use Your Calendar Wisely

Remember the example I gave about the 8 hour task that could be done in 1 day or 8 days?

As best as you can, try to block off as much time as possible to complete tasks.

Think about tasks as being made up of miniature milestones, and for a task that involves multiple people a typical milestone is a handoff to someone else, such as a designer or a reviewer.

Therefore, if you need 4 hours to work on something to then be able to hand it off to someone else, block off those 4 hours on your calendar and then immediately hand it off to the next person.

Combine that with scheduling a meeting with them to set the expectation of when they should be handing it back to you.

For example, say:

Person A works on the service pages mockups for 4 hours, hands them off to Person B, and immediately schedules a meeting 2 days later to meet and discuss her designs.

Is much better than

Person A works on the services designs for an hour a day for four days, then hands them off to Person B.

Person A prioritizes them low, because no one has told her otherwise, and gets them done after 4 days of partial work combined with a weekend.

When she’s done, she leaves a chat message to Person B about having a meeting, and he comes online (when she isn’t) and leaves another chat message saying that these times work for him, after which she comes online (when he isn’t), and says that none of those work for her can he do this time, after which he comes online and says yes, and they meet.

So, Now What?

If you haven’t gathered - getting things done is really important.

It’s probably the thing we can work on the most and also the thing that will have the largest impact on getting the business from here to there in X time vs. 2x time.

So, take a hard look on what you’ve been “working on” for a long time, and think about what you can do to get that done asap.

a remote team leader who gets things done

How can you eliminate space in your workflow?

Remember, the year ends in a few more days - what do you want to be able to say you’ve accomplished?


How Promotions Can Destroy Customer Experience in Three Easy Steps

In the age of digital price wars, me-too marketing, and copycat products comes the rise of customer experience as a competitive advantage.

While the former three can easily be duplicated by other companies, the way customers experience your company will forever be unique.

Unfortunately, given its importance as a brand differentiator, customer experience (CX) is also one of the most easily damaged.

And your digital promotions are most likely the saboteurs.

The Role of Digital Promotions in Customer Experience

In our online era, part of the customer experience stems from your digital promotions.

Thanks to outlets like social media, AdWords, email, and retargeting, companies have plenty of promotional opportunities to place their brand in front of their most likely customers.

In addition, consumers and businesses can easily discover new companies and stay connected with their favorite brands through digital advertising.

So how do you measure your digital campaign's effectiveness?

Well, that depends on who you ask.

Talk to any marketer about how their last digital promotion performed, and they're likely to tell you the new customers/sales/revenue the promotion brought in.

Which is great, especially if those numbers hit targets and made a profit. But what happens after the promotion ends?

Did you gain a customer for life, or just for the life of the promotion?

Did you deliver on a level of service that showed why you're better than your competitors?

Did the customer's experience align with your brand's mission?

How does the customer view your company after the promotion compared to before?

These things aren't as easily measured, yet they have everything to do with the true success of your digital campaign.

Typically, these answers come forth over time in the form of a growing or shrinking customer base and public opinion.

But it can be difficult to attribute these points to a particular campaign or promotion (or a series of them).

Nevertheless, the following three digital promotion blunders aren't doing you any favors.

Recognize them, understand them, and avoid them before they deal heavy damage to your customer experience and, eventually, your entire brand value.

Step 1: Emphasizing Sales Over Value

Digital promotions can give your product a temporary sales bump, but that shouldn't be your main focus.

Rather, your promotions should be an investment in your brand, not a race to the sales quota finish line.

Former JCPenney CEO Allen Questrom, who is credited with helping the department store turn around during the early 2000s, believes that promotions should contribute to sales, not pilot the entire selling strategy.

Often times companies will use discounts to fill in revenue gaps when business is slow, but these price drops fail to complete the customer experience with strong service, a solid product, and standout presentation.

Which means there's nothing else to earn the future business of those who were only looking for a good deal.

Regular price promotions are the beginning of brand value erosion that becomes more noticeable over time.

But because of the sales spikes on certain items during those promotions, many companies don't see the damage until they try to cut back on price drops.

At that point, it's difficult to rebuild your brand's worth, and often times nearly impossible to get along without offering the price breaks people have come to expect.

Case in point: another former JCPenney CEO, Ron Johnson, upended the company when he cut sales promotions in lieu of building everyday value.

This decision saw sales plummet $6 billion and over 40,000 workers were laid off.

Step 2: Focusing on Aspiration Over Inspiration

Questrom notes that Zara and Uniqlo, two retail clothing stores that aren't dependent on sales to drive profits, recognize shoppers are looking for inspiration, not aspiration.

That is, consumers might not always know what they want, but will recognize something worthwhile when they see it.

From a seller's perspective, aspiration in a digital campaign often takes the form of "If you're looking for this, we've got it."

But if you're targeting only the ones who are specifically looking for what you offer, you're ignoring the chance to inspire others with your product.

People are bound by their own creativity and don't always realize a product's potential.

That's one reason why Pinterest soared in popularity. The bulletin board-esque social media website help people share ideas and gain inspiration that otherwise never would have been possible.

As a result, there are more than 50 billion Pins on the site, with 73% of Pinterest users indicating they purchased something they found on their Pinterest feed.

Coca Cola's Share a Coke campaign represents one of the most memorable advertising campaigns that can only be described as inspirational.

It was a simple concept: print individual names on bottles of their drink and encourage consumers to "Share a Coke" with someone they know whose name matches the one on the drink.

The company not only saw a 7% boost in sales during its 2011 trial period, but also 18 million impressions on social media, an 870% rise in the company's Facebook site, and a 39% bump in "Likes."

Even consumers who don't usually buy soft drinks might have felt the urge to share a Coke if they found a bottle with a loved one's name.

Which shows that a little inspiration can go a long way.

Step 3: Failing to Involve Your Team

As much as your prospects need to know about your promotions, your team needs to know just as much. And it shouldn't be insider knowledge reserved for your sales reps.

Every employee in your company, from customer service to tech support to sales and business analysts, is responsible for crafting your customer experience.

Their actions affect your company culture, which helps determine how customers interact with your brand.

And they need to be in the best position possible to ensure a seamless experience at every turn. has been a leader in building a pervasive company culture.

Their “Powered By Service” motto isn’t just a tagline, but a daily philosophy that applies to every employee, regardless of job title.

Because of its prevalence within the company’s operations, the company continually receives fame regarding their culture.

Whether you're running a single digital promotion to boost website traffic or running various promotions to highlight a new product, your team should know the what's and why's, as well as how these promotions may affect their job.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Customer Experience from Digital Campaign Failures

While digital promotions can help you earn viewership and market share, establishing long-term clientele can prove healthier for your P&L rather than the one-off sales from a coupon code.

Instead, every digital promotion should contribute to your brand's value in a way that makes them want to do business with you, even when they have to pay full price. Here's how:

Make your product stand out.

There's an unwritten rule in business: If two companies are exactly the same, one isn't necessary.

While you may offer the same or similar products as your competitors, your digital promotions should focus on what makes you different.

Your brand is unlike any other, which is why it should do all the talking when it comes to promoting your products.

Content Queen Ann Handley suggests creating campaign content based on what your customers want.

To find out what that is, exactly, you can monitor and manage your reputation through review sites like Yelp! or Google and see what customers are saying.

Handley also recommends promoting yourself in ways that cater to the customer, such as educating them about the benefits of your product or hiring only those who fit within your company culture.

Create value, not price wars.

Some people would never buy your product, regardless of how low you slashed the price.

Others would commit if the price were lower, while still others would be willing to spend whatever it takes to make your product their own.

That third type of person is the one who will come to you if you can successfully make your product stand out.

Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy are prime examples.

Each company created a game-changing smartphone, but the functions, features, and experience for each one remain distinct.

And while there are plenty of cheaper smartphone options from other manufacturers, the iPhone and Galaxy continue to outrank them.

When your digital promotions hit on value points, the rice will be the least of their concerns.

Build your brand from within.

You invest millions of dollars in creating a brand that's worthy enough to earn you customers, but that brand is only as strong as the people supporting it from within.

Go to any Chick-Fil-A and you'll never hear an employee respond with anything but "My pleasure."

Zappos Customer Service declares it "delivers happiness."

Geico's online quote process is "so easy a caveman can do it."

These aren't just nice things to say, but rather a real look at the company's philosophy in claiming those words as their own.

When you can teach your employees what your brand stands for, including persona, values, and qualities, your team's efforts magically become greater than the sum of their parts.

They embody your core culture and develop your company's unique language.

And you are better able to deliver a consistent customer experience in every campaign.

As a result, you empower your brand to serve your customers in a way that will make your competitors cringe with envy.

Wrap Up

Digital advertising was projected to surpass television advertising for the first time by the end of 2016, generating over $72 billion dollars in ad spend.

There's obviously value in promoting your company on digital channels, but doing so the right way can ensure your promotions pay off long after your offer expires.


Benjamin Shepardson is the owner of NoStop Blogging Services

100 Startup Directories To Submit Your Startup

If you're launching a startup (like we were), you're probably considering submitting it to various startup directories and review sites.

As we quickly found - there are a lot of startup directories.

In fact, my research found over 100 startup directories, and I'm sure there are more.

Here's the "good" news: Many of the startup directories require the same information, which means if you fill it out once, you can get away with copying and pasting.

Admittedly though, it's still a lot of work and can be difficult to explain to a VA. If you really want to go through these - prepare for an entire day to be sacked. (If you do outsource and you want to a seasoned pro who'll know exactly how to execute from start to finish with not much hand-holding needed, you can always opt for dedicated marketing service.)

Otherwise, here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to highlight the startup directory that sent us the most traffic and conversions.

Next, I'm going to share my entire list of startup directories.

And then I'm going to link to a bonus package that will include hundreds of more directories, that are guaranteed to be up to
date. Don't forget to scroll to the bottom!


Our Top Two Startup Submissions

Betalist - By a LARGE margin, this startup directory was the one that sent hundreds of visitors and the sign up rate was probably 30%. I say probably because unfortunately, I didn't have GA tracking properly at that time. It came very fast as a result of us being on the newest page, I think, so a lot of this was in the first few days during which we collected 50 signups or so. We paid the basic plan to get it done in 3 business days, and I think it was worth it.

If you're pressed for time and don't have a competent VA, submit to this one and call it a day.


The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Course

Apply Now!academy

The Full List of 100 startup directories

  30. hackernews

Is It Worth It To Submit To The Rest Of the Startup Directory?

Like most things, the answer is: Maybe.

The short answer is we didn't get much traffic or conversions from the other ones we submitted to.

The long answer is we may have gotten some quality backlinks that will help us rank down the line. Additionally, who knows, maybe some VC will be looking through one of these one day and come across our startup. It's hard to put a price on being "out there".

What Information Do I Need To Submit My Startup to a Startup Directory?

There are pretty fundamental things you are going to need to know about your product. You might not need all of these, but if you have them all handy you'll be good to go.

  • Product name and website
  • Company name and website
  • Company Logo
  • Location
  • # of Employees
  • Have you received funding?
  • Around 4-5 screenshots
  • Product video
  • Founding year
  • Founder(s) name
  • Awards
  • Brief description ( you can have around 3 for variation )
  • Long Description ( you can have around 3 for variation )
  • Tags
  • Who is it for / What problems it solves
  • What makes it different
  • Social media handles
  • Pricing details

Looking For More?

I'll be honest - I don't keep this article up to date.

And every month, new, hot directories come out, not to mention that there are well over 100 to begin with.

So, if you're looking for more submission websites, including some new ones that have launched, I've compiled a resources guide that links to some articles and websites that are more active about adding the latest directories. Get it simply by clicking below.

How to Improve Customer Service Using Instant Message

D. Michael Abrashoff, who wrote ”It’s Your Ship,” an amazing piece on management techniques, said that “what is needed now is a dramatic new way of inspiring people to excel while things are happening at lightning speed.”


Image source: Altimeter Group // Flickr

The question is:

Does Your Business Inspire Its Community, Customers And Leads?

And does your audience really get your message?

Here is how things stand in 2016:

  1. Right Message: It’s not just a matter of starting a blog and twitching the content here and there. In fact, launching a business blog in 2016 comes with additional responsibilities, as Jamie pointed out in his A Beginners Guide To Creating Your First Blog. The goal is to create an environment that sends the right message to your audience.
  2. Extra Attention: Customers want the extra attention. And they deserve it. Never take your clients for granted. Instead, show your gratitude and build on the premise of a great business relationship.
  3. Community: Everything runs more smoothly when there is a community to back you up. In fact, members can suggest strategies and ideas that significantly contribute to business growth processes. We all know how Pokemon Go screwed up. Learn from their mistakes.
  4. Three "V": Vision – voice – value. These three are interconnected and ensure stable communication. We talk about voicing the right message to your clients, and the next element in the cycle is value. Your message must convey value to your audience. Otherwise, your strategy can only become half-successful.

Moving to the next step…

Image source: Oatsy40 // Flickr

Image source: Oatsy40 // Flickr

Just How Well do You Know Your Customers?

In the last five years, more companies have shifted from transactional value to lifetime value. It started with Zane’s Cycles back in the ‘90s, who introduced a new sales mod, by focusing on customer experience. Read the full story on

Instead of instant profit, the company relied on generating customer loyalty which drove profit by the second year.

Increasingly more companies go for ‘freemium’ and progress to paid membership plans in order to retain customers and increase value of services.

This Harvard Business Review article differentiates between what should be free and premium.

The platform or marketplace model is quite the case study. Think of freelancing marketplaces which do not offer only free membership plans but also premium ones.

From one membership to another, clients and freelancers get to compare benefits and services. Upgrades cost as little as $10/month and billing is done monthly or yearly.

Customers love complementary services. It’s no hidden fact that once a customer becomes loyal to a service, the probability of needing a complementary service certainly goes higher. And customers would use the same service provider or go through recommendations.

According to, small businesses can trigger loyalty compared to bigger brands, which also leads way for SMEs to expand their services palette.

With these aspects in mind and new technologies constantly seeing the light of day, companies need to combine new and old sales strategies.

Introducing the WhatsApp Instant Messaging Model

As of February 1st, one billion users call this app their preferred messaging platform (source: WhatsApp Blog).

Not only that, but starting in the first quarter of 2016, effectively, the company is inviting businesses to join with free membership plans (that’s right, it is now a 100% free service).

The company even sent a message to all users informing them that sensitive information is secured and will not be shared with any third parties--which makes their app “one in a billion” (pun intended).

Even with the new terms of service updates, you can opt out of them and still continue using the app if you do it in the next 30days.

Wondering how the WhatsApp business model can prove beneficial today? Check it out below.

Image source: Sam Azgoz via Flickr

Image source: Sam Azgoz via Flickr

#1. Individual Customer Assistance Experience

In a world of spam and numbers, being able to offer a one-on-one customer experience is probably the best gift to your loyal followers. WhatsApp is personal and spam-free, which makes for a great chatting experience. There are three ways to offer assistance: voice calls, voice messages and text messages - all free.

#2. Real-Time Support

The idea of “here and now” is not new. However, we often see customers suffering from delayed support on the company’s side. In most cases, the inability to offer an instant response to someone’s problems can cause frustration, which eventually leads to cold relationships and even a loss of customers.

#3. Reinvention and Adaptation

You can adapt the service to fit your business peculiarities. Here’s an example: online ordering and concierge services. A new trend is here: the “Whatsapp order.” Companies offer a way for customers to order online and keep in touch with their favorite brands. From restaurants and cafés to clothing stores, any ecommerce business, product or service can benefit from the experience.

#4. Customer Feedback

With real testimonials growing in importance, a brand can now receive customer feedback, immediate, online and at their disposal. Websites with mobile versions can easily be updated with a simple mobile print screen of a customer’s testimonial--a great way to generate more visual content, too.

#5. Communication and Project Management

The idea of group chat doesn’t just mean a way to keep in touch with friends, but also an innovative way for colleagues and teams to work together. Communication and project management in one place. Going further, why not add your customers in the mix? WhatsApp seems more friendly and personal than other “virtual rooms,” due to the instant call-to-action nature of the app.

Image source: Kamaljith KV // Flickr

Image source: Kamaljith KV // Flickr

To Sum It Up…

The main idea is to find a common line between the needs of clients and those of your own business. There is always a way to voice your message in a more direct, personal manner. We witness the end of an era, where everything is automated, impersonal.
To close with D. Michael Abrashoff’s words again, “the key to being successful […] is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. Only then can you find out what’s really wrong and, in so doing, help the sailors empower themselves to fix it”. In this case, the crew is not just your team. It’s also your customers.

Roxana has been a digital entrepreneur for the past 8years, owner of several online ventures and a passionate community builder. She enjoys challenging companies to upgrade their marketing strategies and create a better place for their customers and teams. You can connect with her anytime via Twitter: @roxanasoi or her marketing blog,

Why SEO Is The Ultimate Weapon For Startup Marketing - Ninja Outreach

(The following is a ‘guestographic’ submission from Dot Com Infoway about startup seo)

Successful startup seo can boost sales exponentially, driving future growth and helping to secure capital investors.

However, SEO strategies require a great deal of work and follow-up in order to be effective for a given company. SEO is not something that is done once and then forgotten about.

Instead, it is more similar to a philosophy that is followed over time and that is continually improved as new challenges and demands arise.

Here are some common pitfalls of withering SEO plans gone awry

The first sign that an SEO strategy will fail is if not enough funding had been secured in order to follow through with it.

In order to help secure such funds from a skeptical board, consider explaining that content marketing costs 31 percent less per lead than paid search for mid-sized enterprises and 41 percent less for larger enterprises.

It should also be mentioned that the results of SEO strategies are significantly better when compared with outdated modes, such as direct mail or advertisements.

Another sign that a strategy is doomed is when SEO results are not being tracked.

Companies cannot expect SEO to gain traction on its own.

Understanding a company's current search statistics enables that company to know where exactly it is failing, which is in turn shows where improvement is needed.

For example, knowing that people are leaving a company's website shortly after arriving can mean that something may be wrong with the layout or its content, thus showing that company that improve those areas is likely to get better numbers.

Lastly, creating unnatural looking link profiles, usually as a result of misunderstanding the keyword research process or how to apply it can result in prospective clients avoiding your site.

A way to prevent this problem is to track SEO results and understanding the information it presents.

SEO marketing is a continually evolving process that typically yields results on the basis of how much effort is put into the strategies.

Knowing how to keep that strategy healthy and effective is imperative for a company's growth.

Click to enlarge

When it startup seo is the only viable method of gaining success

Click to enlarge

Dot Com Infoway – Internet Marketing Company

Startup Case Study: How To Hire A Skilled Intern

Most startups f*ck this up.

They hire interns as cheap labour to cover basic tasks and then hire key players after a 2 stage two week recruitment process.

They fail to grasp that an internship is NOT just about getting your b*tch work completed.

It is about a mutually beneficial and transformational process for the intern, which ultimately could result in them landing a significant role within your startup.

Thus the new internship is not an internship, it is a recruitment process.

“Internships are the new recruitment”


But why does this work?

Let’s ask another question....

What is the best way to approximate the success of a particular person within your startup culture?

Could there be a better method of approximation than ACTUALLY inserting them into your startup and carefully observing their behaviour over an extended period of time?

I think not.

Therefore, before you head to your inbox to email your favourite, slimey recruiter to start the search for your next CTO…

Read the rest of this post and consider finding 1/2/3 interns to join… and eventually blossom into the high ranking employee that you’ve always dreamt about.

Now that has been established…

Allow me to give a little background to myself and my founders: Tom and James.

I was formed earlier this year when Tom had an interesting conversation with an advisor that lead to him thinking he could build a “black hole for admin tasks”, somewhere (or someone) that you could simply throw basics tasks to and have them completed without the need for recruitment OR management.

He then met James (who also has a passion for changing the future of work) and they decided to join accelerator in London.

Now Tom and James are really nice guys… but also rather competitive.

I overheard them strategizing about my future and the accelerator.

They were of the opinion that in order for them to maximise their progress during the 3-month program, it would be useful to have another pair of hands.

Yet at the same time, it would be a life changing experience for anyone that would join the team for the duration of the internship.

Tom then designed a process that would not just seek out and find a high quality, ambitious enthusiastic intern… but that would also find and hire a potential future COO.

During the rest of this blog post, I will outline this 10 step process that I observed they implement with a silent excitement as to who I would get to work with over the next three months.


Here’s a summary for those of you with little time:

1. Choose A Mission - What do you stand for? People work hard for a cause, not for money.
2. Have Strong Design - People make emotional decisions based on how they feel
3. Create A Job Mission - Communicate your mission, not just a description
4. Circulate Your Job Mission - Maximise free impressions on your ad
5. Screen Simply - Minimise time spent on low quality candidates
6. Video Interview 1: Understand Motivation & Previous Experience - Are your goals and values aligned?
7. Video Interview 2: Assess Technical Ability - Do they have the skills experience for the role?
8. In Person Interview: Determine Personality Fit - Understand whether you would all get on
9. Test Task - Further assess technical ability
10. Contract - Close the sale


Let’s get started...


1. Choose A Mission

These first two points are not simple.

You can’t just read a blog post, tweak a few things and they’re covered.

They actually take a whole lot of time, thinking, pondering and discussing to get right.

I mean, though it looks simple, but I’m pretty sure the AirBnb founders didn’t just come up with this one at quick morning coffee meeting:


Their “Belong Anywhere” brand and messaging was both genius and expensive.

Airbnb has a mission.

WeWork also has a mission:


Again, I assume this phrase was subject to the opinions of a number of marketing/branding agencies before being signed off.

You obviously are not required to invest thousands of dollars on a branding agency, though it does not mean you have an excuse for your startup to NOT have a reason to exist.

Here is mine:


But why bother?

Why bother investing this amount of thinking time or dollars on a branding agency?

Incremental performance based bonuses were not responsible for the Declaration of Independence.

What I’m trying to say is that it is going to be hard to find a small group of people that will throw their lives at a problem if all you can offer is an average salary and free lunch.


Your startup needs a mission.

2. Have Strong Design

Now for the second intangible step…

After working with you humans for the past 5 months I have realised something interesting.

You rarely make decisions based purely on logical reasoning; it is usually the emotional part of your brain doing the heavy lifting, with a light layer of rationalisation from your intellectual self… after the fact.

Therefore, anything you can do to appeal to a potential intern emotionally… will have a significant effect.

But why?

You know when you land on a site and something just feels odd? You don’t have a clear mental image of what the company stand for (See Step 1 above) or how/if you should feel about them.

Something just seems wrong.

But then sometimes you land on that site and it just seems to make sense. They manage to hold a specific part of your mind and seem to stay there?

I would argue that this feeling is driven by clear and congruent visual design.

So before you head out into the world to recruit people for your crusade, check that you either are a designer or you have paid a designer to strengthen your design.

3. Create A Job Mission

Check this out:

Note that I don’t even have to link you to a specific intern job description as they are pretty much all consistently boring.

Contrast those to this:

Those you saw in the first link are job descriptions, this is a job mission.

(Also, I do try not to be big headed but note the difference in the amount of views and social shares)

Remember Step 1?

This is WHY it is so important to have a clearly defined mission.

It will repel a certain percentage of people… but will attract a significant number of potential interns that are passionate about your mission and will ultimately become awesome members of your team.

But how do you do this?

Just follow this formula:

● Start With Why

As my good friend Simon Sinek says… Start With Why.

Fortunately, we have already done the hard work here in Step 1.

If you have the chance to introduce your brand here somehow, then take it.

As you can see, I personally wrote the internship application and personally welcomed anyone that clicked on my link in the application:



● Tell A Story

You humans are wired to both enjoy and obtain a greater level of understanding from stories, and this is a perfect example.

So this begs the question… how did your business start?

● Did you uncover something interesting while pursuing your Ph.D. at Stanford university?
● Did you and your best mate start making computers in your garage?
● Did you move to San Francisco and charged people to stay on an airbed?

I mean, even if those examples weren’t true, they make for good stories.

● Introduce The Team

One of the most insightful pieces of feedback we got from our potential interns was that they applied because of the people they would get to work with:


Now I’m not saying you have to run off and do a TEDx talk and be a startup CTO for 5 years, but I would give a brief introduction to yourself and provide strategic links to allow candidates to stalk you.

● Role

What are you looking for this person to do?

The key here is to just be honest, though don’t be afraid to show character and be a little bit funny:


● What We Are Looking For

Again, no psychological tricks here, just be honest:


● What We Offer

List down everything that your intern will gain from working with your startup:


I actually missed out on the KEY offering that all interns look for in my post: LEARNING.

(Though arguably learning is part and parcel of being challenged.)

● Call To Action


And now provide a final reason for your intern to take the time out of their day to send over an application. I recommend re-stating your value proposition for the intern.

In our case, it was the accelerator experience and the connections that the intern would experience.

4. Circulate Your Job Mission


So you have your job mission scripted and reviewed by the rest of your team, it’s time to obtain some free impressions.

There is no shortcut here…

It is going to take some manual searching/posting and emailing.

(Though bear in mind that these tasks will be perfect for the awesome intern you are about to hire, in fact, they will probably do a better job than you. So this will be the first and last time you will have to do this)

Depending on your budget, there are a whole host of sites where you can pay for impressions on your job mission.

If you don’t, there are also free versions.

As we were self funded at the time, we posted our job mission on two free London based job boards:

Once the job mission was posted, it was then distributed on the personal profiles of my founders and within the London/startup related Facebook Groups:


It was this exact Facebook post that secured the intern that we eventually hired...

5. Screen Simply

The commitment consistency bias states that:

"It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision."

- Robert Cialdini

Thus it is VERY dangerous to invest time on the wrong candidates early in a recruitment process… as if you do… you will be significantly more likely to mis-hire.

Therefore, you must have a very strict and simple process for screening every application you receive from your job mission.

This screening process will be different for each and every role, though here is ours:

● Do they have evidence of being entrepreneurial?
● Have they studied a technical subject at a top university?
● Is their CV/Cover letter free of any grammatical errors?
● Have they read the job description?
● Have they had relevant work experience?

If the applicant scored greater than 3/5, they were invited to the next stage.

6. Video Interview 1: Previous Experience & The Truth Serum

Brad Smart of:


Is arguably the best and most experienced recruiter of all time.

I’m going to sum up this whole book for you in 2 bullets (to save you from giving Amazon another $11.95):

● The best indication of whether a person will perform well in your organisation is whether they have performed well previously in similar roles at similar organisations
● A Players will jump at the chance or providing a reference for previous experience

To get a good idea of their performance in similar roles at similar organisations, Brad recommends that we dive deep into each piece of relevant experience and ask the following questions:

● What were your main responsibilities at X?
● What did you like about X?
● What did you not like about X?

And for those positions that you feel are most relevant you can then move onto the second bullet above with what’s known as the Threat Of a Reference Check (TORC) and/or “The Truth Serum”.

If I were to call up your manager/boss for this role now and ask them what your strengths/weaknesses were, what would they say?
● Ok I understand, would you be happy to connect me with them so I can confirm?

As mentioned above, A Players will react to this question with enthusiasm, whereas B/C players will not and may even come up with an excuse to NOT connect you with the necessary person.

Only those that provide a reference with enthusiasm AND that you think would excel in your role based on their previous experience commence to the next video interview…

And what is the secret of a great reference check?


Here are the questions to ask:

1. Please confirm the dates that [[Candidate Name]] worked for you?
2. What were [[Candidate Name]]’s significant strengths and weaknesses?
3. Why did you stop working with [[Candidate Name]]?
4. Given the opportunity, would you hire [[Candidate Name]] again?

7. Video Interview 2: Assess Technical Ability & Understand Motivation

If you have 2 or more people on your team, I suggest that a different person hosts this interview WITHOUT seeing any assessment or output from the previous interview to reduce any bias.

E.g. if you have a non technical and technical founder, then the businessman should host interview #1 and the technical founder for interview #2.

The first half of this interview is aimed at determining whether the candidate has the technical ability required to perform the role, whether this is recruitment, marketing or coding experience.

It is then important to understand the long term goals of the candidate.

I believe that a business is simply a vehicle to add value to and improve the lives of all of those that interact with it… this include all suppliers, customer and perhaps most importantly, the owners/employees.

As well as being a foundational business principle: leaving people in a better place than where you found them is also an outstanding persona principle to adopt.

Thus, there must be an alignment between what the owners and any early hires would like to achieve in the medium/long term and the direction that the company is heading.

Especially as we are using this internship as a long term recruitment process for key resources in the development of your business.

8. In Person Interview: Determine Personality Fit

Now I would like to introduce the idea of meta testing:

“Testing something that is not directly communicated as being a test”

Without doubt, meta testing can be significantly more powerful that normal testing, as usually, the candidate is unaware of the fact that they are being tested, thus giving you a better indication as to their true performance.

Examples of meta tests include detailed descriptions for meeting/navigation through the process.

At the end of the second interview, one of our candidates was instructed to speak with one of our co-founders and NOT the other for the result of their application.

However, the candidate ignored this request and sent a follow up message to both founders:


Thus failing the meta test and subsequently being removed from the process.

Another example of a meta test, that our successful intern actually passed focussed on their ability to handle uncertainty.

For the final interview one founder and the candidate met at a busy London train station and then walked around for approximately 20 minutes “looking to find a suitable coffee shop”.

Though during this time, the founder was looking for signs of stress/frustration at this level of uncertainty that would suggest that the candidate may not be suited to the startup environment.
As well as including a couple of meta tests, it is important to gauge the personality fit between you, your other founders and the candidate.

There are no black/white guidelines here, just a feeling you get during and after the meeting, if there is a fit, you should experience a sense of excitement/anticipation for working with the candidate and if you don’t, something may feel weird or awkward.

Trust this feeling.

9. Test Task

The final stage!

And the perfect environment for a meta test.

Determine a short 1-2 hour task that is representative of an actual task that the candidate would be responsible for during their internship and send it over to them with DETAILED instructions on how it should be completed and returned to you.

Remember the information gathered from meta-tests are significantly more reliable than the information gathered from the test itself.

10. Contract

Despite having a terrible allergic reaction to lawyers… I am starting to understand the importance of a reliable and well-drafted contract.

To save you having to experience the bland personalities and fraudulently high hourly rates, here is the template that we used to confirm our awesome intern, feel free to download and adapt.

Our happy intern and co-founders as we now have one more pair of hands on deck to navigate the next three months as an early stage startup.

But more importantly, we have a talented intern that has similar goals to the company... that is also about to embark upon a transformational journey that will benefit him massively, regardless of whether he secures a full time position.

As remember the principle:

“Your business exists to leave all whom it interacts with in a better place”

Will it turn out to be a good decision?

Does this process even work?

Only time will tell…

You know that startup founder that is always complaining about how much time they DON’T have, do you think they could do with hiring an intern?

If so, use the social sharing icons below to send this post over to them on Facebook… you could change the fortunes of their startup.

Tom Hunt is a TEDx Speaker, Dragon’s Den Failure And Founder of your new sales assistant. Tom also teaches Help Marketing to all the legends that sign up here.

1 Year in SaaS Business - Here's What Happened

In September of 2014 we set a stretch goal that in 365 days we would grow the business to $20k Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), and more “realistically” to $10k.

I see a lot of people set goals, but I rarely find people reporting on them, so I figured I’d do that here, with a monthly breakdown of what actually happened:

Before I get into a really long post, let me tl;dr this for you:


January 14: We launch the business several months later than we expected after 2.5 months in beta and a few hundred people trying it out.
January - July: We make a ton of mistakes and the business “grows” to around $3k mrr
August - December: We make more mistakes, but we do a lot of things right, and end the year over $10k mrr, short of our original stretch goal, but in line with our “first” goal which was $10k mrr, (although not in 365 days from the original statement, but within 365 days from launch).

We made a lot of mistakes, but we did a lot of things right, and we ended our first year with over $10k mrr

Click to Tweet

If that piques your interest, here is a bit more background and then the monthly break down:

Quick Background

Just to provide a bit more context, here is what you need to know.

NinjaOutreach is a blogger prospecting and outreach SaaS CRM. It helps bloggers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and agencies find bloggers and journalists to promote their content/products. It’s effectively a large database combined with an outreach CRM.

Our team has 3 co-founders (2 marketers, 1 developer), including myself (marketer) and two others from the UK. I have never met them, but they know each other well. We also (now) have 3 full time developers, and several marketing assistants working with us. We are 100% bootstrapped/self-funded, and the whole team works remotely.

The project was conceived in June of 2014, and we spent about 4 months building the prototype and another 2-3 months in beta. We launched on 1/14/15.

Personally, I am 28 and live in Boston. This is my first true startup. I travel quite a lot and live the digital nomad lifestyle, and it’s worth noting where I was during key times during the year, because that also provides a bit of insight as to (maybe) why things started off quite slow, although I did my best to work 100% on it whenever I had free time. I have written this post from my perspective because it is the only one I have.

January - April: I was roadtripping around the US with my girlfriend and working on the project nights, mornings, in the car, whenever I could.
April - August: I spent the summer at home with my parents
September - December: I was house sitting in Costa Rica, although these were some of my most productive months.
December - ??: I am back at home with my parents probably until February.

Overview Of The Business - 2015


Visitor analytics January

After 2.5 months in beta, we launched our product commercially on 1/14/15, by allowing people to check out on the website for the first time, as well as closing the beta and asking several hundred people to buy the software.

In regards to the beta, virtually no one bought it. Although we had several hundred people try it out, and many say they liked it, only 2 people bought. It was heartbreaking.

Some of the things that were seriously wrong with the software were:

  • It was a downloadable desktop app for Windows only (Doh!)
  • We only had Paypal as an option for check out (Doh!)
  • It looked and performed like crap (Doh! x 2)

Luckily, a few people started signing up for the software through the website, and on the first day, an enterprise customer did a buy now without even trying it (they have remained a customer since) - there was still hope.

MRR at end of January: $168
Monthly Report: January 2015 Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: Although not entirely true, betas are BS. Inviting someone to the beta is already very unnatural and is not going to be representative of how things are going forward. Speaking to people on the phone is useful for feedback, but also should be taken with a grain of salt, as many people will say positive things, but inevitably not buy. In short, early validation for a saas business product is super hard, there is no substitute for putting it out there for people to buy and seeing how they react.


Visitor analytics January to February

This was our first full month, and honestly this was more of the same. Sign ups per day increased from 1 to 1.5 so it was 50% growth, but all and all things were not looking good.

When I projected our current growth out to the end of the year I calculated we’d finish at around $4k. It was at this point we realized that we had to make some major changes to the software if this was going to work.

The biggest decision was to transition to a web application, which was going to require a lot of rework and hiring a new developer. Also it was going to cost thousands, which all had to be paid out of pocket.

We apply to some incubators to see if we’re a fit for any funding. We have one application send us through to the final round, which would have given us $50k in exchange for 10% and required us to move to Texas - we decide to pull out of the process feeling that it was not the right direction.

Right around this time I got tendinitis in both of my arms on account of having an improper workstation while traveling and typing so much. In order to continue to write content and contribute to the business I started working with Dragon Software, which helped a lot to get articles completed. It took a few months for this to really subside.

MRR at end of February: $341
Monthly Report: February Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: Don’t be blind to the path on which you’re heading. It was clear that our current trajectory was not where we wanted to be, so we had to make bold changes and spend the money. Better to make a necessary pivot sooner rather than later in order to maximize the benefit from it (in this case it was transitioning to a web application).


Sass Business January to March Visitor analytics

In March we hired another developer and started working on building the web application. At this point we weren’t making any real changes to the desktop app so the product wasn’t getting any better. We were spending thousands of dollars to make the transition, which is all out of our own savings since the business is far from being able to pay for itself.

Sign ups per day are the same as they were in February, and marketing seems to be making minimal progress, but the business effectively doubles although the absolute difference is quite small.

We have no analytics on our customers and no dialogue with them - we basically don’t know anything. We also have no additional software tools because we’re a desktop app and nothing really integrates with it.

MRR at end of March: $629
Monthly Report: March Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: The new developer was hired off of Upwork and has since become our lead developer, so think critically about who you bring on because they may end up playing a very large role in your SaaS business.


saas business January to April

The first iteration of the web app is finished and we start beta testing it with users. In some ways it’s a lot better (it looks and performs much better). In other ways the quality and relevance of the search results from the database are not as accurate as the desktop app (differences in the way the search results are pulled). Also the new web application has no outreach capabilities, it’s only a prospecting CRM, which is quite ironic for a SaaS business called NinjaOutreach.

Because we’re not confident in the web app, we continue to market the desktop app on the website and then if someone cancels or says they’re a mac user we offer them the web app.

The number of daily sign ups grows slightly and business nearly doubles (again, the net amount is very small).

I arrive home to Boston to spend the summer with my parents and live cheaply at home, while I continue to invest my savings into the business.

MRR at end of April: $1157
Monthly Report: April Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: Although we did a lot of market research before we started the project, we decided to go with a desktop app, because we already had existing technology built that we could reuse - what we thought was saving us time and money actually cost us a lot more in the long run. Invest in doing things right upfront, it will save you a ton of time, frustration, and money.


SaaS business January to May

At this point I’m at home and am working my *ss off, putting in 60-70 hours a week, along with my partners. My tendinitis has gotten better too.

Our goal was to launch the web app commercially in this month and we failed to do that. It wasn’t that people couldn’t use it, people were using it, it was that we didn’t feel that the web app was superior to the desktop app and didn’t want to lead with it.

Although it was a web application, it was very basic and lacking in a lot of features, so we continued to just deliver it on request.

I started getting more into conversion rate optimization and redid the website to make it much simpler. Sign ups went from 1.7 - 3.3 per day, largely due to the fact that the website was converting better. CRO is really a wonderful thing, because without changing anything substantial about the business we were able to get more out of it.

The end of May marks a year since we first conceived the business. On the one hand we have a SaaS business, it’s growing, and the product is getting better everyday - just like we always wanted.

On the other hand, we’ve all been working for a year without pay and realize we are not even close to where we need to be to actually draw a reasonable salary ($5k/month each). I’ve been burning through a lot of cash supporting the business every month, which costs thousands more than it makes, and I’m beginning to wonder if we’re going to run out of money.

MRR at end of May: $1705
Monthly Report: May Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: SaaS businesses take a really long time to grow, and we were totally ill prepared for this project. At this point we're all practically living on welfare, with debt, or with our parents. Be prepared!


SaaS business January to June

We launched the web app commercially for the first time (meaning that users are finally delivered the web app over the desktop app) and all of the home page images are switched to represent the web app.

It converts horribly.

We have the lowest trial to paid conversions of any month to date, and frankly I’m a bit shocked as to how this could be the case. Inevitably, it seems to be related to the search results being too irrelevant (a very complex problem to solve).

We hire some additional developers solely to integrate us with Stripe. They do about 90% of the work and then our Co-Founder volunteers to finish the rest of this. This project ends up not getting completed until October.

The founders start having discussions about one of us having to go out and get a job in order to pay our bills. Who will it be and what will happen to the business?

MRR at end of June: $2321
Monthly Report: June Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: There is no such thing as 90% done. There’s done and there’s not done. I can’t tell you the number of conversations we had where the verbiage was “well, it’s basically done”, and basically done meant months of more work. Don't leave jobs unfinished and don’t leave small changes stuck behind big ones, because everything gets delayed!


SaaS business January to July

Our technical co-founders has to leave the project to get a job and pay his bills. This is a huge blow and means we’re left with only one, outsourced developer, on a project that sorely needs development.

Although we can’t really afford it, I dip further into my savings to pay for another developer until the other co-founder is able to cover the his backfill once his salary kicks in.

We hire an additional developer from an agency, who ends up being very capable, and helps us develop the outreach portion of the software.

We start implementing some onboarding tools like Intercom and SoHelpful and meeting with signups and our trial to paid conversion doubles. Sign ups also increase from 2.75 to 4.3 per day. All cylinders are going, and it feels like we’re making great progress.

During this time I’m actively going to startup conferences and networking events in the area to see if I can meet any potential investors or clients. One partner is doing the same in London. I have a few very light conversations with some investors, but nothing materializes. We decide to put any investment conversations on hold for the remainder of the year.

MRR at end of July: $2874
Monthly Report: July Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: There are a ton of great software tools out there, are you looking for them? We started heavily investing in other tools (made possible when we finally had a web app), and they were huge in improving the user experience and our analytics.


SaaS business January to August

We get featured on Product Hunt, which sends us 1k visits and over 50 sign ups. We also had some very nice guest posts go live on top marketing blogs in our niche, like Unbounce. Finally, I get featured as a guest on Entrepreneur On Fire. All and all this is a huge month for marketing, and our sign ups nearly double.

You can read more on that Product Hunt case study here: Case Study – Here’s What Happened When We Got Featured On Product Hunt

Some great development work is done as well, as we finish off the first iteration of outreach in the tool through a Gmail API integration. In terms of features, it’s at this point that the web app is more or less on par with the desktop app, but can be used by everyone and looks and performs much better.

The business is still running a negative every month, as our costs continue to rise as we make progress and bring on more people, but finally we’re able to support our lead developer.

We decide to double our prices (and let our subscribers know that), because we’re giving so much support (in-app chat, onboarding calls, etc), it just isn’t an efficient use of our time without more customer value behind it. All customers are grandfathered into the old prices, and we drive a bunch of sign ups from people who want to get in before prices go up.

I’ve been living at home now for about 4-5 months and am thinking about my next trip, and wondering how I can balance the work I need to do with the need to get out and see/live somewhere new.

MRR at end of August: $4787
Monthly Report: August Monthly Business Review
Lesson(s) Learned: Although press/features are not a sustainable business model they can really move the business forward - something we saw repeated in future months (October and November).


SaaS business January to September

I’m at home for the first half of the month and then leave to go to Nicaragua for the second half of the month to spend a few months in Central America traveling around a bit and then house sitting.

I go to Hubspot’s conference INBOUND and find it is poor for networking, as is the case for the many other conferences I attended this summer.

We launch a services component (done for you outreach - to the business to supplement the software, that shows a lot of promise, but unfortunately the execution doesn’t do so well and we lose a lot of the early customers.

There are still a lot of loose ends with the software, including our Chrome Extension  not being synced to the web app, and a very poor user registration process (along with Stripe not being fully integrated - still).

We don’t make a ton of progress on the marketing front as compared to August and we see pretty high churn after the big spike in August, still the business grows 20% largely drive by August sign ups and a 14 day free trial that spills over into September. I’m beginning to wonder if increasing the prices was a bad idea.

We’re hearing less and less from our other co-founder who had to get a job, as he is working and commuting a lot, but he is contributing to pay for his backfill.

MRR at end of month: $5889
Monthly Report: How We Grew 20% In One Month – September MBR
Lesson(s) Learned: I spent the summer going to about 6 or so conferences of varying sizes, and even spoke at several of them. I never found them to be useful for acquiring customers, at least not for our business.


SaaS business January to October

We partner with AppSumo to sell the software in a flash sale. It’s a big decision and one we didn’t take lightly, but we decide to go with it to get additional exposure/momentum for the business.

We spend most of the month fixing all of the loose ends so that the software is functioning properly and is ready for thousands of new users. We hire an additional developer to finish the Stripe integration and are now up to three full time.

Overall, it goes very well and we get thousands of new sign ups and only a few cancellations of our current users.

You can read more on that case study here: How We Recruited Over 2k Users To NinjaOutreach With AppSumo

Unfortunately, outside of that partnership the business doesn’t actually grow very much, on account of extremely high churn and just not enough juice in sign ups.

I’m living and working from Costa Rica with my girlfriend.

MRR at end of month: $6050
Monthly Report: The Foundations For Growth – October Report
Lesson(s) Learned: Partnerships again played a big role in moving the business forward. Although the MRR didn’t grow we netted many thousands of dollars from that deal with AppSumo that essentially assured the sustainability of the business for the next six months.


SaaS Business January to November

Seeing that we have a huge churn issue and believing it is related to poor onboarding, I do a deep dive into our onboarding process and build out a whole new email and in app sequence based on user behavior through Intercom. Conversions go up, as do sign ups on account of the additional exposure we got through AppSumo as well as the Stripe integration being finished.

Additionally, with Black Friday at the end of the month, we partner with several affiliates to offer discount codes to their audience. We get a decent burst of sign ups from Black Friday to Cyber Monday from these affiliates as well as from our own newsletter and some paid advertising, many of which do Buy Nows to capitalize on the deal.

It’s a huge month for growth, and I’m confident we’re going to hit $10k before the end of the year.

Roles between founders are becoming more clear. Mark is managing the BizDev, the services, and the customer calls, while I am focusing more on backend onboarding, churn, and product. It’s a good balance.

Personally, one of our founders breaks off a serious relationship to focus more on the business, and I am finishing up my time in Costa Rica.

MRR at end of month: $9043
Monthly Report: How We Grew Almost 50% In November – Monthly Business Report
Lesson(s) Learned: Definitely have an offer for Black Friday, because just having an offer gives you access to thousands more people on account of affiliates publicizing your offer to their newsletter.


I fly home from Costa Rica after hearing that my dad is ill (he is better now).

December is a lot slower as it’s the end of the year and the big online fervor passed already per Black Friday. It is going to be a good month primarily from the November cohort that will convert in December after their trial, but it definitely feels sluggish for new sign ups.

Our developers are working on tightening up the software and fixing all of the little annoying bugs that have been upsetting users. We’re going to push some big features out including automated emailing.

Additionally, the services business we started in August is picking up and Mark is handling the majority of the sales.

The founders are still not paying themselves a substantial salary.

We have over 300 customers (up from 3 at the end of January) and have met our goal of $10k (but very much short of $20k).

MRR at end of month: $10k+
Monthly Report: You're reading it!
Lesson(s) Learned: The goals you set for yourself are very deterministic. This entire year I had $10k in my head and kept pushing the business to make sure we were on track. That’s not to say that if I had set a goal of $100k we would have hit it too, but your goals influence your decisions and act as an internal compass. I knew that we could still hit $10k mrr if I went on a road trip and house sit in Costa Rica, so I did those things despite the fact that maybe it was more difficult to contribute to the business during this time. Had our goal been $50k, I would have done things differently.

Our goal for 2016 is $30k and 1k customers! How was your 2015?

Building a Saas Product? How to Outsource Your Saas Development

So you want to start a startup? Want to know more about SaaS development?

Ok, that's cool.

Maybe you have a couple years of marketing experience...

You are awesome on Twitter and can send cheap clicks with Facebook Ads...

You have studied a business related subject and have sculpted a gloriously ambitious business plan...

You are ready to enter the world of tech entrepreneurship...

Except, you can't code.
But, you have made the decision that your time is better spent elsewhere than either learning to code OR to spend time coding...

You have a brainwave.

Find a technical co-founder!

So you head to a Meetup in your city to network with these "technology" people, but it actually ends up just being full

of non-technical co-founders looking for technical co-founders and the only technical co-founder you spoke to was either disinterested or disinteresting.

You now decide you don't want to give equity in your immensely valuable business idea away to someone that you don't know

and have mobilised your savings to invest in paid development. You are now in your "Outsource SaaS Product" development phase.

You head to Upwork and are completely overwhelmed when outsourcers ask you questions like?

"What technology stack do you plan to use?"
"Would you prefer a custom PHP framework?"

Sound familiar?

Well that is exactly what happened to me.

But luckily I had spent 3 years working on large outsourcing projects in the corporate world, 3 months in a startup

studio in London and had even started my own outsourced service business.

So when it came to outsourcing the build of our first large tech project, we hit the ground running.

And for you?

I will be sharing everything that I learnt from that previous experience AND everything I learnt from this most recent project in this very article.

You will never have to force yourself to go to "networking" Meetups or to considering learning PHP again...

This article will follow the build of Virtual Valley, a Virtual Team Building Platform connecting Entrepreneurs and Rockstar Virtual Team Members (with a time tracking and invoicing software application, the SAAS part ;)) all the way from the idea to testing to the sign off and on-going support.


Now, we won't be going deep into what makes a good startup idea, as there have been whole books written on the topic.

However I do want to stress the importance of building an idea that has been validated by your target market.
You may be using the BEST outsourcing systems and processes that inevitably will produce an AWESOME product, but if that AWESOME product is not something that people want, you are wasting your time.

Thus the question we must ask before proceeding is:

<a href= " ">(image credit)/>

Yes, this is the seemingly simple, high level question to ask but getting to a reliable answer is complex, so I will hand you over to the masters:

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

This is the book that inspired The Lean Startup, Steve goes deep into Customer Development, which is the alignment between what you build and what people will use.

The Lean Startup - Entrepreneurship Book

We like to think of The Lean Startup as an outlook on life as opposed to a methodology.

  • If you throw up a landing page to collect emails before you have a product to test interest - you are being Lean
  • If you give your outsourcers a test task before hiring - you are being Lean
  • If you scan through a book before you buy it to see if could help you - you are being Lean

When we start building, we will be doing so with a lean/agile process:

  • Build
  • Measure
  • Learn

And finally, what would your Mom say if you asked her if she would use an iPad cooking app?

Probably yes, because she loves you.

But if you took the "love" from the equation and asked questions with a more tactical approach you may find that your Mom has never actually used her iPad when cooking or would do so if she had one.

This is the Mom Test:

The Mom test | Entrepreneurship Book

Got an awesome AND validated idea that people actually want?
Let's go...

Specification for a SaaS development

Now, when working for Accenture as a business analyst (building software), we had documents about documents to specify, track and test the software we were building.

We don't want to do that.

Remember, we are being Lean?

So, the only document that you MUST produce before jumping into the sourcing process for your awesome product is the Requirements Specification Document (or Spec).

Here is the exact template we used when building Virtual Valley, we have left the Spec in.
Here is an empty version ready for you to make a copy into your Google Drive.

Column A-B

A Business Requirement is function that your product must perform to reach a business objective. E.g. for Virtual Valley, Entrepreneurs must be able to Post A Role that they are recruiting for.

Column C

This Business Requirement can now be split up into specific User Actions. E.g. for Virtual Valley, in order to Post A Role an Entrepreneur must be able to create an account.

It is important to write your User Actions from the perspective of your user as this will help you sculpt a better user experience for your product.

Column D-G

Each column represents a type of user of your product. E.g. For Virtual Valley we have 4 types of users: Entrepreneur (No Account), Entrepreneur (With Account), Team Member and Admin.

Column H-I

You can mark is BR/User Action as Nice To Have/Must Have.

Column J-L

Shows the status of each BR and the date by which it is scheduled to be closed (by you). Note there are two types of status for each BR: Functionality (does it work?) and Design (does it look right?).

OK, now we have your product Spec'd up, it's time to move over to those freelancer marketplaces to find someone to build.




My personal favourite of the freelancer marketplaces since the re-design and merge of oDesk and Elance. From our experience they have the largest database of freelancers but lack depth in some technical areas.


Oursourcely saves thousands in commission fees as you don't pay them a cut when hiring or paying remote workers. Their basic plan starts from $19.



Created by engineers to bring technical talent to the world, Toptal have the best variety and depth of technical expertise in the database though we have found to be the most expensive of the three options.



A less enticing user experience but a good database of technical talent and we have found to be the cheapest option of the three.


Helping people worldwide find jobs and employees for free!

Now, the awesome thing here is that you don't have to select between the three...

No, once you have created the job post, you can just go ahead, create an account in each, post the job and then sit back to let the quotes roll in.

Here is the job post we used for Virtual Valley:


Ambitious Entrepreneur Seeking Dev Team To Build The Next Upwork/Total/Guru



My name is Tom and I am an entrepreneur looking to hire a development team to build the next Upwork/Total/Guru, we are looking to launch in 6 weeks.

Before responding, please check the Requirements Specification Document here: [[link to Spec in Google Sheet]]

Once you have been through the WHOLE Spec, please respond with the following:

  • Rough timelines and quote for "Must Have" and "Nice To Have" features
  • A list of links to similar projects
  • Why you think you are the best person/team for the role

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Please reply with the word "silver" in the first section of your response so it is clear that you have read this job post in full.

Nice and simple, but note the aspirational and ambitious headline and the spammer check at the bottom.

Each platform will also make you assign a budget for the project, though this doesn't carry to much weight, it would be good to benchmark your project against other similar projects on the platform to ensure you get the maximum amount of responses.


Now wait for 24 hours then log back in and immediately discard any responses that don't include the word "silver" in the first line, if they can't follow that simple instruction what do you think they will be like to build a whole development project with?

Then for those that you think look credible, enter their details in this Google Sheet.

Once you have 20 candidates, schedule a quick 10-minute Skype call to have a general conversation about the project, you are looking to test the following:

  • Their communication skills
  • How excited they are about the project
  • Their understanding of the project

We then took 10 of the 20 candidates from the first interview and invited them to build a more accurate quote on the time and cost required to build out your Specification, this will usually take a couple of days.

Set up a final interview with your top 3-5 candidates and have them take you through their quote and answer any of their questions about your product.

You can then go on to ask a few questions of your own to gage their interest and expertise:

  • Are there any other features that we could build that would have a low cost but big impact on our users?
  • Are you aware of any competitors in this awesome product?
  • What are the major issues you usually face in big development projects?
  • Will you be completing the design work or shall I hand that to a third party?
  • How will we communicate during the project?
  • Will you have a specific project manager?

Quick note on project managers: you need one. But it is up to you who will do this role.

If you have more money than time, you can agree to include a project manager in your Dev Team (if they have one) or if not, you can be the project manager (this is the route we took).

You now should have a good feeling about the partner, which you would like to move forward with.

Though I would make sure you consider the following:

  • Do you like them?
  • Can you communicate well?
  • Do you like their previous work?
  • Have they built similar or more complex projects previously?
  • Were they reliable with timelines and actions throughout the process?
  • Do they have previous clients you can speak to?
  • Do their time and cost quote fit within your timelines and budget?

In our case, we went with a team based in Egypt that we got on fantastically well with, had great communication skills and a very reasonable price.

Once you have selected, express thanks to the other candidates and then move to the next stage...


This section is REALLY simple if you decide to work within the confines of the platform, which you found your dev team, which I would highly recommend.

Though you will end up paying a10-15% uplift on the quote, you have payment protect (you can get a refund if things go wrong).

Each team that you encounter should have standard contract they use for development contracts (if they don't maybe think twice about working with them), here are the things to look out for:

  • Ongoing Support : Most Dev Team's will offer a certain amount of free support for features within your Spec for a period of time after completion, make sure this is clarified.
  • Timeline Discounts:  You will need to get the Dev Team to commit to the timelines stated by agreeing a reduction in payment if the deadlines are not met by a specific time.
  • Spec Timelines/Payments:  Ensure that the Dev Team agree to your COMPLETE Spec and the Must Have/Nice To Have features are clarified with the targeted close timelines for each BR and a payment schedule for each milestone (group of BR's)
  • Intellectual Property:  I am not a lawyer... But I would advise to ensure the necessary intellectual property clauses exist to ensure that you OWN everything that is built.
  • Communication Procedure:   Include how you expect to communicate with the Dev Team in the contract. We agreed to have daily check-ins on Skype and a full weekly review of the Spec.
  • Code Notes: It is important to agree that the code should contain notes (text not rendered by browser that provide instructions on how the code has been structured) that will guide a new developer you may bring onto the team.

Ok, once you have the above agreed, Skype your new Dev Team, pop a bottle of champagne and explain how happy and excited you are to be working together.

Agile Development

From our experience there are two ways to "manage" a tech product:

  • Sit back, relax and get frustrated at the end of the project when your team have built something completely different to your expectations
  • Get involved and test/review each requirement as it is developed

No prizes for guessing which we will choose.

Yes, welcome to Agile Development.

How To Outsource SaaS development

You need to be involved with testing and reviewing EACH and every Business Requirement AS it is being built.

Naturally your Dev Team will want to delay showing the client (you) they have polished your work, you need to fight against this by doing the following:

  • Make it clear from the start that you need to review each BR as soon as it is built
  • When you do review something that is far from complete: DO NOT BE NEGATIVE (This will just delay the time until you can review in the future)
  • Always be constructive with your comments

If you are able to adopt a smooth build and testing process using the techniques above, you will find your product coming to life sooner than you imagined.

The next document I introduce you to has the official title of the "Snagging List", here is a template.

When you complete your testing, do NOT interrupt your Dev Team straight away, instead record it in the "Snagging List" for you to review in your daily calls.

You will note there are two different tabs in the "Snagging List": one for design (does it look right?) and functionality (does it work?).

With Virtual Valley, we would be notified via Skype of the BR number that was ready to be tested whenever the Dev Team thought it was ready to share (the earlier the better!), we would review, add any comments into the Snagging List and would them pick them up in our daily Skype check in. With any larger issues being moved to the weekly Spec Review calls.

This structured will maximise both your time and that of your Dev Team.

Scope Creep

At Virtual Valley, our business model and build moved from being a better-designed clone of to a fully-fledged Virtual Team Building Platform where Entrepreneurs would actually hire team members through the site.

The point being that almost invariably, the scope of development projects change throughout their lifecycle.

This is the reason for the MASSIVE importance of having a clearly defined Spec in the agreement. So it is clear that when new features are added, the additional cost and time must be added to the schedule.

Importance Of Backups

I would recommend having your Dev Team build your product in your own hosting account AND also to ensure that regular backups are taken.

In our case, we use Hostgator (which take courtesy weekly backups), so when we approached launch day and we foolishly invited an external freelancer into our hosting account to fix a problem with a different business and he proceed to delete ALL of the public.html files in the account we could just load a backup right?

Website backup disaster

Unfortunately not...

Though it was OUR fault for not ensuring the backups were occurring.

Trust me, you don't want to be in that situation, TAKE BACKUPS!

User Acceptance Testing

Ok, you and your Dev Team have worked through each and every Business Requirement and have been updating the Snagging List as you go...

You now are reaching the end of the project and your product is coming together, exciting right?

Before you release to the world you want to iron out those last user interface and functionality bugs with some User Acceptance Testing.

This is different from the previous testing of specific Business Requirements once they have been built and tests the user flow between Requirements and the product as a whole.

Luckily, studies have show that up 85% of usability issues can be found by testing with just 5 users, so round up your friend and family and enlist 5 of them to go through your full product and remember, all issues go straight into the Snagging List.

Sign Off

Only once the User Acceptance Testing is complete, the Snagging List is completely closed and you have done a FULL review of the Spec, should you sign off with you Dev Team and make their final payment (previous payments may have been associated with specific milestones).

I would also suggest having one last final meeting to give and receive feedback and to reminisce about the high and lows of your journey, if you a located close to each other geographically, it is always awesome to have this in person.


You should have agreed the support procedures in your agreement so should have an understanding of what your Dev Team have committed to in terms of ongoing support.

Depending on how the project has progressed, you may wish to continue working with your Dev Team on a retainer basis for increased support or product upgrades or you may wish to bring someone on in-house to cover this.

In the case of Virtual Valley, the Dev Team agreed to a year's support for the BR's in the Spec and we will continue to put them on a retainer for upgrades in the pipeline.

BONUS For Your "Outsource SaaS Product" Phase

Possibly the most important section of this entire post...

We believe that your ability to work and communicate effectively with your Dev Team is the most crucial factor in the success of your project.

Here is the brief guide:

  • Have video calls
  • Smile and use smileys
  • Ask about them/their first before business
  • Never be negative, always constructive
  • Explain things multiple times in different ways
  • Have them explain complex concepts back you to ensure understanding

Be careful to follow all of the above and you should enjoy a seamless development experience.


You now have the roadmap...

You will no longer need to hard sell that coder you just met in the coffee shop on your idea...

And should be able to build your MVP (Minimum Viable Product, term taken from The Lean Startup) in a matter of months with a few thousand $.

Though now, I need something from you...

If you have a friend that you KNOW is searching fruitlessly for the mythical technical co-founder, please use the share buttons to the right to send this post over, let's release him from those endless and dull networking events and empower him towards building the best product he can with awesome developers from around the world!

And finally, if you have any questions about the process: tweet me, or drop a comment in the box below and I will get back to you in NO TIME!

(After all, I have to wait until tomorrow morning to meet with my Dev Team about our updated Snagging List, so am sitting here doing nothing ;))


Tom Hunt is the founder of Virtual Valley, a platform that connects Entrepreneurs and Rockstar Virtual Assistants with the mission of giving entrepreneurs back 10 million hours of their time by 2020. Tom writes about how you can grow your remote business on the Virtual Valley Blog, you can connect with him on Twitter here: @tomhuntio

5 Lessons Learned Taking A Software Business From 0 - $5k MRR

In the last few weeks NinjaOutreach has surpassed 200 customers and $5k in monthly recurring revenue.

While we're far from being considered "big" business, it's a milestone that many startups never reach.

And when you hit these milestones, as arbitrary as they might be, it's a good idea to reflect and share. Reflect so that you understand what got you there, and share so as to help someone else get there too.

With that, I've come up with 5 takeaways from the last nine months of growth that I hope you'll like.

Top lesson learned taking a SaaS business to 5K MRR : your product is your most important marketing effort

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Your Product Is Your Most Important Marketing Effort

I can't stress this enough - we would not be where we are right now if we had not continued to invest in the product. The product we launched 9 months ago simply was not good enough to get us to 200 customers by August.

Why not?

  • It was a Windows only app
  • It was slow
  • It wasn't pretty

What did that lead to?

  • A low number of sign ups
  • A low number of conversions
  • Poor retention
  • Difficulty marketing

Now - had we done nothing with the product and simply went on a marketing campaign - would we eventually have gotten to 200 customers? Probably, but I don't think we'd be there now.

And without a doubt the ceiling for our customer base would be a lot lower than it is right now.

Luckily, we were just smart enough to see the projections and know that we weren't setting ourselves up for success (unfortunately we weren't smart enough to predict it in advance - oh well).

So we doubled down on the product, hired another developer, and made the transition. We've been focusing on the product ever since, and continue to do so, having hired two more developers in the last two months.

Having just gotten back from the marketing conference Inbound, where Dharmesh Shah made a bunch of product announcements, it's clear to me that you never stop investing in your product - it's your best marketer.

Growth Accelerates (If You're Doing Things Right)

growthIn August we practically doubled in size.

Consider what that means.

It means that August was equivalent to all of the progress we made between January and July.

That's pretty crazy when you think about it - that one month could be the equivalent of seven.

Now August was a breakout month filled with several big features. September isn't going to be like that. But it goes to show just how quickly growth can accelerate. One month you feel like you're just scraping by, and the next month all of the sudden a business appears. It happened in just a blink of an eye.

What does this mean?

Don't give up and don't let the projections bring you down. When we launched in January I projected that by the end of the year, based on the current metrics, we would end the year at around $4k/month. Now that number is something more like $12k because the growth has been quicker than we expected (thankfully).

Business Expenses Add Up (But That's Your Choice)

The darker side of this is that business expenses add up as well.

As you get bigger you warrant needing more tools. Now all of the sudden we've upgraded from the free plan of Intercom to the paid plan. We're also looking into adding more servers. All of these things become justifiable as the business grows, because you feel that these premium plans and tools will add enough value to justify the cost.

And while that's probably true, often it takes time for the value to materialize and for a few months you're running a loss while all these add-ons catch up.

Without a doubt, the biggest expense is always people. Since we've brought on 3 developers our monthly costs have skyrocketed. While $5k/month would have been more than enough to pay the bills in the first part of the year, it isn't enough now.

Of course, all of this was and continues to be our choice. We *could* cut a developer or two. Growth would slow, but we would be profitable - however we choose to keep investing in the business to grow it faster.

Eventually, of course, you have to start giving the business less and giving yourself more. When you decide to do that is up to you and it's always a tradeoff.

Customer Service Is Worth Everything You Put Into It

We do everything we can to give the best customer service possible. I can't even begin to count the number of times I dropped whatever I was doing to respond to an inquiry at all hours of the day and night.

I believe it has paid off, although not without adding additional stress to my own life and the feeling of always being "on".

Sometimes my partner and I get so excited about it that the two of us are responding to the same customer inquiry simultaneously.


We've received a ton of compliments like the above since we started, and needless to say, it really helps cheer you up when you're feeling down about the software or the business.

Make customer service a core competency in your business - it will be appreciated.

Focus On Making BIG Improvements

This summer I went to the most weddings I've ever been too (3).

I realized something - weddings have a ton of details to them, but I think there are 3 things that matter most of all:

  • Good food
  • Good drink
  • Good music/dancing

Basically, people want to be well fed and have fun.

And yet so many brides and grooms focus on the details that I think inevitably only they will notice, often at the expense of the core competencies. For example, a stringed quartet playing popular love songs, while your steak comes out dry.

It's nice to have those things, and it adds a unique touch to each wedding, but when guests go home and talk about the wedding, all that really matters is whether or not they had a good time (which often involves getting liquored up and dancing your face off).

I think software is a lot like weddings.

There are a lot of details that only founders/developers notice. We obsess over these details and spend time on them. The software is better for it, definitely, but it isn't MUCH better, because we aren't hitting on the main things that people care about.

This is different for every software. For us, it's good prospecting, good contact information, and good outreach.

And even the last two are somewhat secondary, because if a person logs into the software and can't find the results they want - they don't even get to the last parts, they cancel.

Personally, I've found myself getting lost in the details from time to time, because you think they will be quick fixes, but in reality a whole week can go by having focused on a bunch of "small edits".

Our biggest wins, however, are always when we work on improving an existing process that's a core functionality in the tool, or adding in a functionality that was just desperately needed (things like an import, email integration, etc).

Going forward, we're working on focusing on big improvements until there aren't any left, then we'll double back and add in the string quartet.


Some lessons simply come out of nowhere in a good way (like the growth thing). Others are the result of screwing something up, adjusting, and seeing improvements (like the product thing).

Regardless, it's important to keep learning, and sharing.

Our next milestone is $10k MRR, which is where we hope to be by the end of the year. We'll be sure to update you when we get there!