Both kinds of business: Risky and Stupid!

There have been a lot of questions lately about why I expanded my consulting practice to provide a wider range of marketing services- moving from a focus of startup/tech strategy work into a general purpose digital marketing agency.  The short answer is, I took my own advice about selling what people want to buy but there is a longer answer.  In fact, there are several longer answers that are worth sharing.  

1.  Selling a narrowly defined service to a narrowly defined target is risky and stupid.

There I said it.  It took someone much smarter than me to hold up a mirror and tell me what I was looking at.  My business, for years, has been about getting tech companies to the next level in terms of user acquisition and monetization.  Anyone who has ever played in the startup sandbox can tell you that founders and investors at early stages take tons of risk.  Most startups fail.  By limiting my client base to startup tech companies, I was sharing in that risk without much chance to score the VC multiplier of 10X (earning a return of 10 times their investment to compensate for putting their money at risk).  I like serving the startup community and seeing founders succeed.  It is something I want to continue doing and by diversifying my business with more widely appealing marketing tools that serve a broader base- really any business, anywhere in the world that wants to grow- my goal is to remove some of the pressure from the startup side of my business and diversify income (see example below, in point #3).  This is advice I offer to founders.  Time to take my own medicine.

2.  Automation scales.

You know what does not scale?  Me.  I have 24 hours every day.  Some of that time is spent keeping myself alive: eating, sleeping, exercising.  Some of that time is spent with my family.  Some of that time is spent looking at pointless emails- my outsourced to-do list.  The hours I have left, let's call it 10 hours on a good day, are split between working for clients and cultivating new business.  Even if I could limit the time spent prospecting (by writing enchanting blog posts that lead customers to line up for my excellent services!) my time available to execute would still be finite.  Time is a limited resource.  So, the only way to increase capacity is to grow the team, make use of other people's time and add some automation (online forms to get started, credit card billing, etc) to the process.  As John D Rockefeller may have said (internet quotes are unreliable at best, so maybe he said this or maybe it was Kermit the Frog or someone else entirely): "I would rather earn 1% of 100 people's efforts than 100% of my own efforts."  What strikes me about this is that if he were also to profit from his 100%, he would be earning 200%.  Scale.   

3. Recurring revenue does not suck.

Nearly all of my engagements are multi-month.  Some go years.  But, in life nothing is guaranteed and when startup funding dries up, advisors and contractors are near the top of the list of things to go.  My business is built on working with growth stage tech companies and last summer 4 clients ran out of money at the same time.  I survived but it was not fun.  The new digital marketing tools are not immune to this kind of scenario- a company that goes out of business is not going to continue spending on marketing.  However, with lower prices and wider appeal, the plan is to work with more companies/organizations across multiple sectors: retail, non-profit, hospitality, tech, finance, content, professional services, travel, etc.  With a high level of service and guaranteed results, the plan is to continue providing value, especially during hard times.  By driving new customers via digital channels, we want to be an essential part of our clients success month after month.  Indispensable.  

4. I Got Nothing But Love For You

At least once a week I find myself at a networking event.  I have often found these events enjoyable but not super useful in terms of driving new business.  The reason: unless the event is specifically targeted towards startups with money to invest in growth, there are rarely enough appropriate prospects to connect with.  The new marketing tools change that.  Now I can offer a service to anyone who has any kind of business.  Need more patients for your chiropractic practice?  I can help.  Want to launch a humorous T-Shirt business?  Let's do it!  Thinking about reaching new moms with a dog walking service?  You can count on us!  By expanding scope, we have something for everyone*.  

 image courtesy of Headline Shirts

So, I have effectively turned myself and my business upside down.  Instead of servicing a narrowly defined segment, I can work with anyone.  Instead of limiting myself and my clients to 24 hours of availability, I have exponentially increased available hours (by growing the team and using automation).  Instead of selling one thing, I sell many.  As this plays out I will update you on progress.  In the meantime, ask yourself, what can I change about how I do business?  How can I expand my target market?  Where can automation and scale allow me to grow?  If I can be so bold: the first step might be to automate your digital marketing and grow your business while you sleep:  J

*Everyone is a slight exaggeration.  If you have regulatory limitations (Pharma, Hedge Funds, Military Industrial Complex, etc.) we may not have a solution for you.  Nevertheless...happy to discuss!