[85] Refocusing and Getting Things Done in Less Time

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Welcome to Bootstrapped Web, Episode 85. Brian has been busy traveling over the past  month and is now settled in Asheville, NC for a few months.  He gives an update on his participation in Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing conference last month.

Also, Brian mentioned on this episode that tickets are still available for (both) Big Snow Tiny Confs… Well the Vermont trip is now sold out. But as of this writing (Oct 1, 2015), the Colorado trip still has a few spots open. Join us here: http://bigsnowtinyconfwest.com.

So after some conference talk, today we get  down to updating what’s going on in our businesses.

While Jordan spent about a month thinking about product development, sales stalled.  He’s happy to report he has his mojo back with 90% of his thoughts and actions focused on the sales marketing front.  CartHook is launching campaigns and marketing.  At the same time, there is work going on internally to determine the next step for CartHook, which includes determining what technology and added value he wants to bring to what could be CartHook 2.0.  In looking at sales and marketing for CartHook now, Jordan is working on five main things:

  • AdWords is now up and running and going to cart-specific landing pages
  • Begin Facebook newsfeed ads
  • Retargeting
  • A new outbound campaign, some of which will be done internally
  • Outbound sales for a high-end experimentation idea Jordan has and wants to receive feedback on  

Brian has a number of goals he wants to accomplish for the two months he is in Asheville.  His focus is to build out the marketing and sales engine for Audience Ops.  He feels it’s time for a proactive marketing strategy and plans to work on building out the sales funnel and converting cold leads.  His course of action includes:

  • Audience Ops blog, currently being published twice a week and is designed to teach business owners how to implement content marketing in their business
  • Begin testing paid acquisition and specifically promote posts on Facebook
  • Launch the Audience Ops WordPress content upgrades plugin
  • Begin monthly webinars

We also talk about the idea of finding ways to get more done in fewer hours.  While our schedules are opposite in the times we are the most effective in our work, we realize that allowing ourselves to not feel guilty about the times our energy is focused elsewhere is an important goal.   

Resources and Links:

Audience Ops Content Upgrade

Churn Buster





Essentialism – book

If you liked today’s episode, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast.  Head here to leave a  review in iTunes.  

[84] MicroConf Europe 2015 Recap Show

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Welcome to Bootstrapped Web, Episode 84.  Brian is back from MicroConf Europe and fills us in on all the great speakers he heard.  Brian also spoke at the event.  First up, we have updates on some of the things going on with our businesses.


Before we dig into the details on our businesses, I wanted to mention that our annual skiing/mastermind meeting is coming up in January.  And this year we’re featuring a West Coast edition, Big Snow Tiny Conf West, which will be in Beaver Creek, CO in February.

Big Snow Tiny Conf – Sugarbush, Vermont
January 25-28, 2016
The original, organized by myself and Brad Tousnard will be happening at the same house as last year, near the slopes at Sugarbush, Vermont.
On sale September 24th, 2015
Info and email list here:  bigsnowtinyconf.com

Big Snow Tiny Conf West – Beaver Creek, Colorado
February 8-11, 2016
New!  A BSTC out west!  This one is being organized by Dave Rodenbaugh and it’s happening at Beaver Creek, Colorado.
On sale September 24th, 2015
Info and email list here:  bigsnowtinyconfwest.com

Our Business Updates

Jordan has launched a customized email template builder.  It was a long time in development and Jordan often played the role of the user of the product while things were getting hammered out. This opens the door to several other additions to the CartHook platform, all of which will expand their customer reach.

Jordan is also looking to hire a full-time lead developer. If you’d like to find out more about it, email Jordan at jordan@carthook.com.

As both businesses look at the prospect of more outbound sales, a few resources have really struck home:

Brian is in the private beta phase of a content upgrade plugin for WordPress.  A public launch is planned for the end of October. To find out more about getting in on that, check out contentupgrades.io.

Brian offers some of the highlights from MicroConf Europe speaker sessions including talks from:

Brain also discusses some of the good information exchanged in the attendee talks at MicroConf Europe.  In mid-September, Brian will head to Norfolk, Virginia to be part of Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing Conference.  

If you liked today’s episode, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast.  Head here to leave a  review in iTunes.  

[83] Thomas Smale on Selling Your Online Business

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Today Jordan is talking with Thomas Smale the founder of FE International and today’s topic is how to sell your business. Many business owners are considering selling their business, but don’t know how to prepare a business to be sold.

A question that is top of mind is how do business owners prepare their business for sale. Thomas does spend a lot of time with business owners who are often considering selling a poor performing business. In his experience, it is hard to sell a business that hasn’t shown a profit. If you want the business to sell then make sure it can make Revenue.

Revenue then effects multiples and price level. This begs the question, “what is a reasonable multiple?” The answer is the longer you work to build the business and the more money you put into the business the higher the return. A loose rule of thumb is 3 times the annual net of 3 months.

Anything 500 thousand dollars and over a year will multiple above 3. Business buyers will buy a business for their own reasons. Under 100 thousand dollars, and a wide spectrum of buyers will take an interest in a business. Above this number the buyers only look for profitable business moves.

Thomas says he sees a lot of investors looking for opportunities they can “scale” or build up to a larger profit. For example a business could be making 30 to 40k a year, but the buyer believes they can grow it to 300 to 400k. These buyers are rare. Most will accept the normal 3 times net. Businesses don’t grow for a number of reasons. Sometimes the seller has taken it as far as they can and have hit a wall. While others need buyers to offer the needed resources to make it larger.

In a 2 sided marketplace like this, how do buyers and sellers connect?  Thomas and his company have turned to the content market.  They publish a blog and podcasts, which draw in more buyers. Over time a list will form and FE International has a whole department dedicated to contacting these buyers and helping them invest.

So what happens when a buyer/seller deal isn’t the right match? Some  buyers don’t know what they want. That is why FE International helps talk to buyers about their expectations of a business.  Sellers are often original owners and may need a little help letting go of a business. In the end Thomas and his company have found that keeping regular contact with a buyer and noting their preferences is an effective way to get the right buyer/seller match. He also adds that educating the buyer is also important to making a good sale. Buyers should know the expectations up-front. Content marketing is very helpful with educating buyers.

Regarding how to plan to sell a business, Thomas recommends considering what a buyer would want to do to improve or change the business. Then make sure you as the seller are to able to break cleanly away from the business. Build a business around a brand, not a person. Brand names are easier to sell than personally named businesses. Next make sure your records are easy to follow and neatly organized. Basically build a business that can run without you.

FE International has done over 300 transactions and every one of them was unique. A system is in place to prepare every business for their sale. For sellers just beginning the sell of their business Thomas has this advice:

  • Hire a broker so those processes can help make a sale run smoother.
  • Unknown things will stall a deal, but don’t panic!

Jordan shares that he wasn’t prepared for the time length it took to close a deal. He was glad he hired FE International to guide him through the process. Entrepreneurs seem to forget that business should be built and made more valuable to an overall business community. Look at the business from an outside perspective. Thomas adds that there is nothing wrong with enjoying your business, but always be open to selling it later on down the road.

All of these processes are essential to running a successful business. Even if you don’t plan to sell, the topic today will help you manage a good business.

If you are interested in learning more about FE International and how to scale up a business visit feinternational.com

If you enjoyed today’s show, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast.  Head here to leave a  review in iTunes.

[82] Growing Our Teams, New Initiatives, and Your Questions

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Welcome to Bootstrapped Web, Episode 82. We have been so focused on our businesses and we are excited to give our updates. Also on this episode, we’ll answer a few questions that we’ve received from people asking for our thoughts and advice.

Brian has been working hard on AudienceOps and creating systems and getting things nailed down. Things are moving forward on his new WordPress plugin which will handle content upgrades through an email opt-in which will then send users bonus content such as a PDF, or worksheet or template of some sort. It’s in use now for clients and the next step is release for beta users. His landing page will allow you to sign up now for early access if you’d like to be a tester. Brian has also been producing 10 to 12 high quality articles weekly, has the business systems running well and has refocused responsibilities for his team members. Brian will be speaking at the upcoming Microconf Europe which takes place in Barcelona from August 31 to September 1. In mid-September, Brian will in to Norfolk, Virginia to be part of Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing Conference.

Jordan has been equally busy and is happy to announce… his first EPIC blog post! Jordan has also launched a newly designed marketing site, a new podcast which is named The CartHook Show, hired a new customer success team member, and started his first advertising campaign. Somebody submitted CartHook to Product Hunt and that created a sugar high of increased visitors to the site. The surge resulted in a handful of free trials and some conversions.

Brian and Jordan then discuss what they believe are the most effective ways for them to communicate with their teams. Then it’s time for guest questions. One question tackled is from somebody who is concerned that consulting with a technical person could result in that person taking their idea if they don’t have a NDA. The second question deals with how much work is too much work before an idea is validated. The final question is how can you deliver content marketing when your customer is a small business person who doesn’t spend much time online.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast. Head here to leave a review in iTunes.

[81] Scaling Our Businesses Through Process, Team and Procedures

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Welcome to Bootstrapped Web, Epsidoe 81.  Today we are giving our updates as both of our businesses are growing and we’re scaling them quickly.  We also answer a listener’s question regarding content marketing and converting website visitors to customers.

Brian has been focused on AudienceOps.  He talks about the current development of a WordPress plugin, the first of his software tools.  It’s a call to action tool that offers a bonus pdf download after receiving a customer’s email address.  He will begin to install it on client’s sites and after that will do a release as a stand-alone tool, with a free version and a pro version.  Brian is also focusing on plugging holes in any part of his processes,  while keeping the quality.  He paused all sales and marketing while he could get a handle on things and now he is ready to get back to sales and marketing.   Brian will be speaking at the upcoming Microconf Europe held in Barcelona from August 31 to September 1.  In mid-September, Brian will head to Norfolk, Virginia to be part of Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing Conference.  Use the coupon code: Brian Casel to get 15 percent off your ticket price.

Jordan is busy moving into the next phase of building a team and separating out the different functions and responsibilities.  Jordan started by documenting the whole process  and assigning tasks to team members.  At CartHook, Jordan is still responsible for converting customers from free trial to paid, but can see where that could change in the future.  For the time being, pre sales and onboarding is being handled by one person and after the trial begins it then goes to another team member.  Jordan believes the owner should not necessarily be the operator at every level and he needs to spend his time in sales and marketing.

Brian and Jordan then answer a listener’s question on how to convert a site visitor to a  paying customer.  They break down the steps involved that center around email and providing more content to those on your email list which will put you in the position of authority in your area of expertise and then in a position to convert those on your email list to paying customers.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast.  Head here to leave a  review in iTunes.


[80] Brecht Palombo on Longterm Travel as an Entrepreneur

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Brecht and his family left their New Hampshire home and headed out in an Airstream to Austin, Texas.  The trip to Austin developed into a plan to be on the road for almost a year.  In addition to Texas, their stops included Southern California, Oregon, Idaho.  They are back in New Hampshire and planning to hit the road again in about two weeks.

Jordan and his family left New York and flew to San Francisco.  Their stops included Berlin, Germany and Denver, Seattle, Portland and Miami.  They settled in Portland and have been there for about two years.

Brian and his family are preparing for their trip.  They plan to hit the road in September and travel around the country for most of the first year before traveling internationally.  They’ll use airbnb for scheduling places to stay.

Travel topics covered include:

• Purging yourself of excess belongings before your trip
• Heavy duty research before you leave and while traveling
• If you need to get your business to a certain state before you leave
• Coworking spaces and how to spend less time working
• Traveling with kids
• Dealing with the pushback from family and friends

Jordan says being an entrepreneur allows you to live an exceptional life and travel brings you closer to your goals for that life.  Brecht says that when getting pushback, you should discount what others say about your travel plans, it has no bearing on how it will go for you.  He would rather regret having done something than not having done something.

For more on Brecht, check out distressedpro.com or hit him up on Twitter @brechtify.  Also, check out his Bootstrapped with Kids podcast.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast.  Head here to leave a  review in iTunes.

[79] Building Awesome Online Courses with Keith Perhac of Summit Evergreen

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Welcome to Bootstrapped Web, Episode 79.  Today Brian is away, but I’m excited to welcome Keith Perhac to the show.  Keith is the Founder and CTO of Summit Evergreen, an online membership software platform that makes it easy to create beautiful online courses and membership sites. Keith and Jordan discuss how it isn’t always easy to find information products that are well organized and curated from people you trust.  According to Keith, online courses take information and package it into a continued narrative.  He explains what online course programs offer that ebooks don’t and why more people are becoming more and more interested in the format.

Keith runs down three steps somebody should consider in deciding on a topic for an online course:

  • Base your course content on your area of expertise and the place where you are a problem solver
  • The importance of selecting something you are interested in so it lasts you beyond the initial offering
  • Don’t assume that what you know isn’t valuable

Keith advises a launch process before any of the course work is started.  Among other things, it will allow you to gauge interest and build trust right from the start.  The launch process needs to include a landing page with information about the course and an opt-in form.

As far as what’s succeeding with online courses, Keith says video is dominating and he explains it in greater detail.  Keith also has some advice that draws on feedback from users and a journal page and process that allows users to feel supported and have a positive lasting impression about the course.

If you’ve been wanting to find out more about developing your own online course, check out  Summit Evergreen.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the show.  Head here to leave a review in iTunes.

[78] Changing the Course of Our Businesses

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Welcome to Episode 78 of Bootstrapped Web.  Today we are both very excited to bring some major updates in our businesses.  It’s very fortunate that we both are finally able to discuss these topics in detail, as both have to come close in the last couple of weeks.

Both of these announcements break the typical mold of what we have historically considered to be a “Bootstrapped” business.  In this way, they are going to change the trajectory of not just their respective businesses, but also of the entrepreneurial journey that Jordan and Brian will embark upon in the future.

These last few months have been great learning lessons for us, and we are excited to share these lessons with you.  The tagline of the show “This is the show for you, the founder who learns by doing” certainly applies to these latest developments in the business, and we hope that some of these insights help you bring your businesses along to the next level too.

If you liked today’s show,  Brian and Jordan would appreciate if you could leave a review in iTunes.

[77] Justin McGill on the Importance of Visibility as a Founder

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Jordan is on the road and in today’s episode Brian is joined by Justin McGill.  In December 2014 Justin took on a challenge to launch a business in 24 hours and from that, LeadFuze, an email prospecting and lead generation service was born.  Justin also co-hosts the Zero to Scale podcast about bootstrapping startups to $20k a month and beyond, and also documents Justin’s journey with LeadFuze.

Justin talks about the importance of setting public goals.  When he launched his current endeavor he set a goal of $1,000/mo in recurring revenue within 30 days.  The first two weeks which hit over the Christmas holiday were slow, but he achieved his goal and currently LeadFuze has grown to $18,000/mo.

Brian and Justin discuss the importance of having a visible public goal for your business as a way to motivate yourself and identify a success method with a revenue number and a deadline to reach it.  Additionally, being transparent holds you accountable.

Justin also discusses:

  • His background and how he drew on that to start LeadFuze
  • How he applied what he knew from a marketing perspective to his own business.
  • How a “done for you” concept in a software product is a win.
  • Why his involvement in entrepreneurship communities is important to him and those he interacts with and the value of having conversations with like-minded people.
  • How his podcast has helped his business.

Contact Justin through his email, justin@leadfuze.com or at justinmcgill.net or on Twitter @Jus10McGill   and check out the podcast he co-hosts, Zero to Scale.

If you liked today’s show,  Brian and Jordan would appreciate if you could leave a  review in iTunes.

[76]  Tim Conley on Entrepreneur Coaching

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On this episode Tim Conley joins Brian and Jordan to talk about what to expect from an entrepreneur coach.

Tim is an expert in management consulting and coaching and has helped many people push their business to the next level.  He believes that business success is 90% mental and coaching can help  an entrepreneur get over their own mental hurdles.

The guys discuss discuss the differences between mentor, coach and consultant and what a consultant can offer that the others may not.

Topics covered include:

  • At what point in your business is a coach the correct option for you.
  • How to find a coach that’s right for you.
  • What should you expect to pay and what should you expect for the return on your investment.
  • The various levels of coaching.
  • The nuts and bolts of coaching.

Tim believes that the best coach is one who has seen a range of scenarios and can effectively apply their experience and knowledge to your situation.

Tim can be reached through his website timconley.co or on Twitter @TimConley.

If you enjoyed today’s show we’d love it if you could leave us a review in iTunes.