[00:00:16] Speaker A: Welcome back, everybody. Another episode of Bootstrap. Web Brian, coming to you from Snowy Chicago.
[00:00:23] Speaker B: Oh, man, I am. Tell us. I hope we get some of that snow. We usually do. If it's by you, then we'll get it in a few days. Maybe I can sneak in a ski trip with my kids before I head out to big snow, tiny comp two weekends from now.
[00:00:38] Speaker A: Oh, like a little warm up before the real little warm west or up north.
[00:00:42] Speaker B: The first one is our east trip, which is usually in Vermont. We're going to Montreal this year. We're going up to Montre Blanc.
[00:00:49] Speaker A: Yo, I've heard good.
I was in Montreal. Oh my God. A long time ago, but I was so impressed with that city.
[00:00:57] Speaker B: Yeah, I've been there once when I was a kid and I've never snowboarded up there, so this will be really fun. Yeah.
[00:01:04] Speaker A: Cool. Funny enough, last time I was there was a massive snowstorm and it was so cool seeing the city just buried that way. This one I'm not that happy about. I'm in a bad mood. I'm cranky. My dad was supposed to come visit and I was so excited to have him visit with the kids and all that stuff. And he's coming from Florida and screwed up all the flights. So I've been dealing with United and chase and all that stuff, but hopefully we might just get him here.
[00:01:34] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:01:34] Speaker A: Yeah. You could tell I'm all pumped up. I'm ready to roll. Let's do it. If you're not talking, I'm going to talk.
[00:01:42] Speaker B: I got my second coffee right in front of us.
[00:01:44] Speaker A: This is going to be an edge.
[00:01:48] Speaker B: All right. Yeah. So I've got like, basically two things.
Should I head into it? Actually, I got one. You know what? I talked a few weeks back about one of the benefits of us doing this podcast, at least to me, is the network effects. And I want to kind of chime in here with my first thing because maybe I can reap some benefits of the network effects here. I think I'm looking to hire someone. Okay. And I don't know that it would be a listener, but maybe a listener might know someone.
And it's a weird decision, but it's starting to become more and more obvious that I think I need someone. This is to work on clarity flow. And my thought going into 24 has been like, let's cut costs down to the essentials.
Keep the development team kind of lean.
I've got some marketing stuff that's going on. I've got server costs, but other than that let's just kind of let clarity flow do its thing.
And part of that equation has to be how do we free up my time as much as possible, right? Because I need to be working on my new business called full stack founder.
I need a lot of time and hours and especially more like creative energy on this new business, you got to.
[00:03:11] Speaker A: Go zero to one.
[00:03:13] Speaker B: And so the thing that I already have my developer on the team and she takes care of almost all of the development needs and I'll feed her issues. I got to scope stuff out for her. But it's not a ton of work or it's not a big burden for me to do my thing on the product, on clarity flow on a limited basis. Going forward, where it gets more tricky is the customer support and customer success. So I guess that's how you would define this role that I think I need to hire for. You start with customer success because it's a support role. It would be like the first support person besides myself in this business.
But the most important, critical, high impact part of the support is onboarding new customers, making them successful. And what this looks like in Clarity flow is probably not unlike a lot of other SaaS businesses, especially ones that are sort of like platforms that are pretty complicated is the wrong word. It's just a big project to get up and running because every coach who comes in, they are evaluating whether or not they are ready to ditch whatever tools they've been using and adopt clarity flow and install it in their business. Set up new coaching programs, start inviting their clients, set up their custom branding, do some integrations.
In many cases they're moving their payments throughout.
[00:04:41] Speaker A: Right. Ideal customer is doing revenue every month actively and so it's up and running to the point where it functions. So it needs to move over to your system and then start functioning.
[00:04:52] Speaker B: And I talked about how I launched a self serve video demo that people can watch and that does help some people self onboard and self convert. But for other people, especially the more ideal coaches, in that they're more active, they have a lot more clients, they're a higher stakes business. So they watch my demo and that gets them sort of like excited about the possibilities. But then they send an email like, hey, can I just talk to someone? Can I have a call?
Can I bounce some ideas on how I want to structure my coaching business? So they need sort of support, they need some handholding, they need some guidance and advice on how to implement. But also just like coaching these coaches on how to structure and launch. Sure it would be great. If I could find someone who could do that, someone who is obviously a great kind of support and communicator, someone who can not only do, like, email support, but hop on a call, do a lot of video async messaging with customers.
And then I'm trying to think about interesting ways to maybe incentivize this person and maybe also build this into a new offering, like a paid concierge service from clarity flow.
So there's a lot of ideas on how this could work. It could be just a basic part time retainer role.
That could work fine, but maybe as an add on to that, it's like every time we do one of these paid setup services, you get a portion of that and you're running that whole thing.
[00:06:42] Speaker A: Yeah, put it out there.
Let's see who's out there. It does seem like a great opportunity to just jump into a software company and start talking to customers.
[00:06:51] Speaker B: Yeah. And if I think back to audience ops and also restaurant engine before that, when I hired this person in those businesses, I might have called it like an account manager or a salesperson or a customer support, but it's a lot of words for sort of the same thing, which is you're talking to customers and especially new. The new customers are the ones who are sending messages every single day for three weeks straight, and then they get all set and then they're good to go.
But I remember when I hired that person in those businesses, it was an instant, noticeable opening of my time and freedom. I mean, there's a lot of training of that person up front, so there's that work. But once you sort of get through that slog, my schedule completely opens up when I don't have to talk to every single customer and handhold and do all these demos a lot of times.
The alternative right now is since I do have to sort of split my focus and I can't afford to be full time on clarity flow, I can't afford to take every single sales demo and be super thorough with every response, the business suffers. It literally means some really perfect fit customers are coming in and they're not getting the support that they need. They might get a response from me, I might point them to a video. But if this is somebody's role who can give it a lot more energy than I can, that would be great. And I also think about it like, you start with customer success, but branching right off of that. There are a couple of other, I think, even more interesting things for this person to do in the same role. So creating training material, maybe creating courses and workshops for our customers, creating videos or articles, writing docs for our knowledge base.
You're learning so much about what customers need. You're the perfect person to create content and training stuff for the customers. That's one kind of more long term creative project that this person can do. And then the other thing would be helping me with planning features in the roadmap. So my whole thing of being able to talk to customers all the time is like understanding what are the most customers having issues with or most requests are coming in for this or that. What would make life easier for everyone? This person on the front lines. It'd be great if they have a little bit of crossover skills into whether it's design, development or just product in general. And you can collaborate with me on, okay, you've helped 100 customers in this area. We need to make this better. Let's plan out how we can structure our roadmap for the upcoming year and just have a voice.
I think this person can kind of be in that role.
The question is like, who is it? Where are they from?
How do we find this person?
[00:10:05] Speaker A: Yeah, where's the match of someone who wants to dive into that? I think about this from time to time in terms of what I would do differently when I was younger, and a lot of it is centered around I should have worked for a company like the one I wanted to run.
[00:10:20] Speaker B: Yeah, me too.
[00:10:22] Speaker A: Inevitably would have worked for a couple of good ones and a couple of bad ones and seen how not to do things and how to do things and what works and what doesn't work.
[00:10:30] Speaker B: Honestly, this person would learn so much. And I think about the people who were in this role in my previous businesses.
Part of what makes this challenging and the reason why I even bring it to this podcast is that there are some roles that are pretty straightforward on how you would hire for them. Whether it's like hiring a developer, maybe hiring a va. There are straightforward channels to go about doing that.
But I feel like every time I've hired this person, I've gotten super lucky with just finding a rock star who has the set of skills that I just described but is pretty early on in their career. They're young, they're talented, but they're not so far along that they have the same lifestyle needs that you and I have.
And I look at them today, the people who've moved up in audience ops and moved on from audience ops, and they have incredible careers doing their thing.
I'm not saying me or that role was responsible for that. What I'm saying is they were talented individuals to begin with.
They're going to do their thing no matter what. But if you can catch them at that early part of their career, it's the perfect thing.
[00:11:49] Speaker A: That's right. It's more of a fit thing. I think about our support success person now, and that's her. She's younger and getting great experience and has been with a few companies and understands how the relationship between a software company and its customers works. Good, bad, proactive, reactive tools. You just build up this library of knowledge and eventually someone will come in that's more junior than you. And then all of a sudden you get a colleague and then you get someone to teach and then you start to get this natural management experience before you move up into a management role.
[00:12:28] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:12:29] Speaker A: Okay, cool. I hope you find someone, anyone listening, either you or someone you know.
[00:12:33] Speaker B: Yeah. Like part time, flexible, remote, but long term we can build stuff together. It'll be really cool. So, yeah, that's that cool.
[00:12:42] Speaker A: Well, I am thinking about success, but not nearly as much as I'm thinking about pipeline that has come to define my focus for the first week. This feels to me like the first week of the year, right? The actual first week of the year. My kids were still off, so I didn't get back to work until Friday, which was, it's not really a week. I just kind of got my act together and moved my piles of envelopes of my mail that I haven't opened. I moved them from one place to a more organized pile. That's what I got done that week.
[00:13:09] Speaker B: Been there.
[00:13:11] Speaker A: But this week was super exciting and I really wanted to let everyone feel the CEO's energy. I was like, so Sunday night I was walking around my house like a lunatic, flexing and pumped up like, yes, fully manifesting that form of energy. And I came in Monday hot and I went to slack hot and into the meetings, and I just wanted to make sure everyone got that from me.
[00:13:46] Speaker B: What does that mean? What does that look like?
[00:13:49] Speaker A: So, urgency, I think, is the defining element of that energy. It is. What do we need to do? I'll do it right now. What do you need to do? Go get it done. What about the end of the day? What can we do? What's next? So just that push toward urgency, and a lot of that comes from the pressure of providing pipeline to two account executives who want to hit the quota. So this is the element of healthy pressure and stress that is coming out of hiring two salespeople and they have quota and it's their responsibility to make quota, but I feel a lot of responsibility to help them.
We're working together. Right. It's not just that I want them to hit quota, it's if they hit quota, I'm very happy and they're very happy. So it's good alignment that way. And while we have several ways to bring people into the pipeline, I feel a lot of responsibility for, there's like two types of pipeline. One form that the AE generates and the other that the company basically generates for the AE.
And so marketing inbound partner, like all these things that feed in really help them.
And that's been my focus. And so this week has been great. We spoke to a bunch of merchants and that just the momentum of really, it's just the difference between December and January. December being so quiet, and then January.
[00:15:28] Speaker B: People kind of resurfacing in January.
[00:15:30] Speaker A: That's right. They woke up. So we had several meetings, we had a few demos. We had second calls. One of those calls looks like it's on track to close as a deal. And that's a huge sense of relief for me. It's not done, it's not closed, but just making sure that we close this week off with the AES going into the weekend, feeling good, like, okay, I got some opportunities I'm working with. It's not quiet anymore. This is going to work out kind of a thing. So that's been a lot of the focus and what I spoke about on the last podcast in terms of that new product offering.
[00:16:11] Speaker B: Right.
[00:16:12] Speaker A: We've been weaving that in and identifying when it makes sense and when it doesn't make sense.
[00:16:18] Speaker B: Okay.
As a reminder to listeners we're talking about, you sort of decoupled the marketing tools from the core checkout product. And the whole idea is it's much less friction to get on board and start getting value from rally.
[00:16:34] Speaker A: Yes, that's right. So you said it perfectly. We decoupled the marketing features that can now be embedded on the merchant's existing checkout without needing to change checkouts. And with that, payments and tracking and fraud protection and everything else.
[00:16:49] Speaker B: And it's not fully launched or is that able to be used today by a customer or.
[00:16:57] Speaker A: Not yet, not today.
[00:17:00] Speaker B: My question is, how can you start to weave it into the sales conversations early to just get reactions and see how that works even before it's ready?
[00:17:09] Speaker A: Yes. If you think about my focus of trying to generate new pipeline, it's directly related to that. And so that feels like my role specifically is in the coordination between engineering and product and go to market and talking to the go to market team and saying, what do you need in terms of marketing assets? So we're working on a landing page that'll be up by next week and screenshots and like a one pager with those screenshots.
[00:17:38] Speaker B: Yeah, I think we talked about this on the last one. My approach to that is exactly that. It's like, market the website, market the product and everything as if this is the world we're in. This is how it exists, this is how you can buy it. Even if those are not ready yet, everything as soon as possible should be like, because that's how you get the signal.
You need people to react to it at every step of the funnel, from their very first visit to the lead capture to the sales conversation, and then.
[00:18:12] Speaker A: The onboarding, and ignore the shortcomings that will be addressed anyway in the future.
[00:18:19] Speaker B: Even if those cost you deals up front at least, you know, like, okay, they dropped off at the point where they couldn't actually use it, but we knew that once we ship it, that one would have converted. Yes.
[00:18:30] Speaker A: So we're kind of like working backwards now. We're saying, okay, when is it going to be fully, fully ready? When is it going to be half ready? So it includes two types of marketing features. One called order bumps, one called post purchase offers, and order bumps are going to be ready in the shorter term. So it's like if we have conversations now and a merchant is interested, we still have another call it two weeks in the form of a merchant that's super excited and ready to roll. It's still two weeks to get in touch with their tech team, and you create an account for them and all that. So that buys us some time right there. And then we understand how long it'll take us to get the other half the post purchase ready, and that's a few weeks later. So it's like there's no reason not to sell now.
One of the things that it has done, one of the challenges that we've had, I think, like, every software company is estimating, and one of the things we are focusing on is working with our front end lead and back end lead and demanding of ourselves to do a better job at scoping and estimating.
[00:19:39] Speaker B: Dude, story of my life.
I struggle with this for myself.
I constantly notice this is one of my worst habits, I would say as a business operator, especially in my form of it, with like, lean bootstrap, doing a bunch of stuff.
It's like I have a mental breakdown. Of.
I don't have a clear concept of how much time and actual energy from myself things will require.
So I think that in a day. Oh, yeah. These are three things that I can ship between now and the end of the day, and there's no possible way that that's going to happen today. I can do one of those things. Not all three.
[00:20:22] Speaker A: Yeah. It's overestimating. I mean, right. There's the engineering version of it, and then there's just, like, the task version.
[00:20:28] Speaker B: Of it, and there's, like, energy management, too. It's like, I might have the hours, but are they the best hours for me to do all those three things? Probably not. Yeah.
[00:20:39] Speaker A: And it messes with your expectations. If you keep getting it wrong, it's, like, depressing.
[00:20:44] Speaker B: It is, yeah.
And that's the other thing I keep noticing. Same issue. It's like every single thing that I ship, I feel like I shipped it at least a week or two later than I expected to.
[00:20:56] Speaker A: Right.
And it feels bad because you feel behind, but if you did a better job estimating it and set more accurate expectations for yourself, that could change the psychology of the experience.
[00:21:09] Speaker B: I'm going to take this clip of us talking about this, and I'm going to replay it, like, 100 times so I could burn it into my brain.
[00:21:17] Speaker A: We are taking this project of getting this launched. We're taking the opportunity to use this as, like, a test case. Like, let's really dive all the way into the specs so that we're not doing that to ourselves.
And what's coming out of that is surprise. It's gnarlier than you expected. And at least now we're setting a better set of expectations for ourselves and for the merchants that we're talking to. The interesting thing that's happening is what we want to happen. The high end of the market, the biggest brands with hundreds of millions in GMV, that used to be the ones that we were scared off of engaging with, because getting fill in the blank, 500 million dollar merchant to change their checkout is a really high hurdle.
And now those merchants are really interested in offers in this decoupled version because it has nothing to do with their payments and checkout. They don't need to change. It's kind of like, are you telling me we can add 3% to 5% in revenue next month then?
[00:22:27] Speaker B: Sure.
[00:22:27] Speaker A: I'll take a look at that. And it's a day or two to implement. Okay, let's take a look at it.
[00:22:31] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:22:34] Speaker A: We'Ll see. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself on making assumptions and what changes need to be made. And does this change the nature of our business and do we need a different form of this or that? I'm trying to just like let's get as much feedback as possible as quickly as possible. And then recess.
[00:22:49] Speaker B: Yeah.
Good stuff, man. The only other thing I have is I did manage to put live the new website for my new business.
[00:23:00] Speaker A: Okay.
[00:23:01] Speaker B: Fullstackfounder Co.
That is live as of late last night. I pulled a late one.
[00:23:09] Speaker A: Good for you. Nice.
[00:23:12] Speaker B: Again, it was one of those things that I thought I could build and ship this in like two or three days. It turned into a full week.
But I did hit my target of getting it done this week because it's launching the website, the home base for a whole business. This is v one of that. And I did start doing the YouTube videos. I published two. I recorded three more that are in the editing queue now.
So that started, but the business doesn't actually fully exist until I have the website and the newsletter capture. And then I have like a services page where I'm offering my advising consulting services now on product stuff. And then basically my goal for this site was to put all the pieces in place that I'm going to need a for newsletter growth, newsletter capture, like SEO optimized articles, where I'm going to take every YouTube video and promote it on these articles and turn every video into an article, essentially, and then have the page to offer the services. And then later on I might have courses and stuff to add into this site somewhere.
It looks good. Congrats. Yeah, actually I did manage to record a video today, sort of recapping this project as part of the full stack founder thing. I'm showing how I designed and built and shipped this site and the challenge that it's hard when I'm in the moment, but I feel like I've gotten fairly good at this. As a full stack founder, if you will, is balancing these conflicting things between you have to ship with speed, but you also have to get a lot of the details right.
There's the creative stuff like picking the brand colors and the logo and the fonts, and I get too hung up on that.
But I sort of push through now I have my workflows to shortcut and short circuit that stuff and good enough to ship and that sort of stuff. But there's this other concept that I want to try to get across to people is that there's so many little things that come up when you're doing a project like this, like, oh, that's so small. Such a detail. You could just push that off till later on.
You can make it like SEO optimized, but it's a little tedious. Nobody's even going to see it on the home page anyway. Let's just push that off until later. I'll get around to it later. Let's just ship this thing this week or slap the analytics code on there. Oh, we can do that later. It's so small.
These things are important. You need these little things in there from day one and they're so small that if you push them off to later, you won't do them later because they're so small.
[00:26:12] Speaker A: Sure.
[00:26:13] Speaker B: So while you're on the project, just do them so that I can just touch this once and then I don't have to touch it again for a while and then it can just run.
[00:26:24] Speaker A: I'm going to assume we go out on a limb here that you're better than most at that because most people cut that corner, myself included.
[00:26:32] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of little corners that could be cut and there's a lot of stuff on this site that I'm not super happy with, especially on the styling and the colors and stuff. But at a certain point it's like, okay, a whole day has gone by. I can't spend another day on it. We got to go.
[00:26:51] Speaker A: Yeah, I hope I can do the same. Like, we've got this new website and I'm trying to get it done by the end of January. That's my goal.
So I'm going to keep working on that.
[00:27:03] Speaker B: I think it all starts with the words. If you can get the copy into a doc, like a notion doc or something, that's the biggest thing. And then everything else can be improved later.
[00:27:16] Speaker A: Yeah, I hear that. I have difficulty with a blank page, though. If a designer shows me a page, I'm like, move this to here. Let's add a CTA section here. Does the testimonial section make sense here? And how about this? That's much easier for me than the way I've organized it. First in my head and then in a Google Doc is it's basically like a table with bullet point, sub bullet point. That's how I've written the entire thing. So I just say hero section, and then I say headline, sub headline, any additional copy. And then my suggestion for what could make sense for the graphic, and then I'll just write like testimonial section and I'll say, here's a link for four logos or like logo section. And then I'll feature sections and then feature one headline, sub headline copy for tile one image for tile one copy for tile two image. That's the only way I've gotten to organize it. And then I hand it over to the designer and I beg, I say, please just give me a page to look at visually and then I can go the next round of, oh, this does make sense. This is too much. This is too thin.
[00:28:32] Speaker B: Yeah, man.
I feel like the job to be done framework can be applied to so many different things. Obviously it's usually for product customer research, but I just like to think of every element of the project. There's a job to be done. Like what's the job of the home page? What's the job of the hero section? What's the job of just do that. If you start with that, it has to just do this one thing.
Like on this new site on full stack founder.
I hate saying that. I got the co, by the way. I wish I got the sure.
And I put in the inquiry to whoever owns it and I don't know, I put out a low four figure number and they were like, yeah, the number that we're even willing to consider is 400 times that number.
Yeah, that's not going to happen.
But anyway, on this site, my thing, starting off when I just opened up a blank notion, doc, it was, okay, home page and homepage is where all the energy is on this. It's like hero. The whole purpose of the hero is email capture. And then next section has to be like me and my message. I've got a photo of myself and sort of like a letter, a short copywritten letter that defines. Here's the journey you're on. Here's what we're here to do. We're becoming full stack founders. Yeah, I like that style.
[00:30:01] Speaker A: You got your signature.
[00:30:03] Speaker B: Yeah. A little fake signature thing that I found on the Internet.
[00:30:07] Speaker A: You are part of the product.
[00:30:09] Speaker B: Yeah. And the words are really aimed at resonating with why you should care about this whole concept of full stack founder.
And then the only other thing on the homepage is like, look, this is a content business. So here is the most recent content, three recent videos. Here you go. That's it. Okay.
[00:30:28] Speaker A: Homebase.
[00:30:28] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:30:29] Speaker A: Cool. Yeah. My challenge seems to be that the homepage, not that hard.
Well, it's not that it's not that hard. We just don't want to overload it. So the Ridley isn't that much going on there. We've been doing this for a while. So it's kind of easy to talk about what we have and what we want to show the hard part that around the homepage anyway, was this new offering, this new version of the product.
[00:30:53] Speaker B: Yeah. How? With.
[00:30:55] Speaker A: Yes, yes. How not to confuse because the deal that we talked to this week that looks like it's on track. They want the checkout, they want the full thing.
And that's how they found us. That's what they got excited about and that's what they want to buy. And so we don't want to get in the way of that.
Doing that without diluting the message too much is the challenge. The message that I'm kind of going with is like, turn your checkout into a revenue channel using your checkout or ours. It's kind of like, doesn't matter to us because all the stuff we do makes your revenue generate new revenue at least, right? That's the uniting theme is we just help you make more money on your checkout, more revenue, higher average order value, better conversion rate, and then we have different things that do that.
[00:31:43] Speaker B: That line worked for me the first time I heard it like drive more revenue using your checkout or ours. That's pretty cool. Yeah.
[00:31:51] Speaker A: And then we have like buckets, right? We have an average order value bucket and a conversion bucket. The conversion bucket relates to our checkout. The average order value bucket refers to.
Those features are on either one, your checkout or ours.
[00:32:05] Speaker B: It's so easy for especially like marketers have this thing like, oh, just test it.
Just test one version against the other. It's like, if only it were that easy because I was about to do the same thing, but I was about to say something along the lines of, oh, just design a version that goes all in on the marketing tools version of rally and maybe have a backup version for the full checkout version of rally and really lean into one or the other. Do a month of one and then a month of the other and then compare leads or whatever, compare response. But it is never that clean and it certainly isn't one month each.
And your sales cycles are so much longer that you can't test and get results within 30 days. So it's like, yeah, don't listen to that advice.
[00:32:57] Speaker A: Yeah, in this case, no, the way I'm solving for that is with solutions pages. So one of the pages talks only about using the features on your checkout. So at least there, that's what the salesperson would send, that's what the SDR sends. That's what talks about that specifically where we can point people to and post it on LinkedIn, and then it is selling that version of the product in that context. So a LinkedIn ad that talks about that can go to a page, and it's not muddled and it's not confusing.
[00:33:32] Speaker B: Yeah. And you can see this with, like, look at any product page that any paid ad leads to. It's never their home page.
It's always some version of their site that probably looks like their homepage, but the words are aimed at whatever you clicked on.
[00:33:50] Speaker A: Well, Friday.
[00:33:53] Speaker B: Yes.
[00:33:53] Speaker A: Bit of a shorter episode for us.
[00:33:56] Speaker B: Hey, we haven't got on there.
[00:33:58] Speaker A: I have one more discovery call, see if we're a good match for this brand.
[00:34:05] Speaker B: I got to get off this call, and then I'm doing another one of these onboarding demo calls with a clarity flow customer today, which I'm happy to do. They seem like a great coach, great business to have, but, man, this is something that I would love to hand off to someone. If someone can come work with me on clarity flow. Cool.
[00:34:23] Speaker A: Record it. That's what we do.
[00:34:25] Speaker B: A lot of that. Yeah.
[00:34:26] Speaker A: Amen.
[00:34:27] Speaker B: All right, brother.
[00:34:28] Speaker A: Good to see you. Have a great, long weekend.
[00:34:30] Speaker B: Later, folks.