May 26, 2021

Content Generation: What Does it Take and Who Should Try it? With Amos Schwartzfarb and Trevor Boehm.

Content Generation: What Does it Take and Who Should Try it? With Amos Schwartzfarb and Trevor Boehm.

Amos Schwartzfarb, Managing Director at Techstars and Trevor Boehm, Venture Partner at Saturn Five, co-authors of LEVERS - The Framework For Building Repeatability into Your Business talk about writing a book together and their motivation behind it. We also talk about content generation in general and who should consider taking their time to generate content.


Amos' LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amosschwartzfarb/

Trevor's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trevorboehm/

Levers, a book about creating repeatable processes in startups: https://www.leversbook.com/

Saturn Five: https://www.saturnfive.com/

TechStars: https://www.techstars.com/

Transcript

And today as guest speakers will have 2 guest speakers 1, is Barb mentioned director at TechStars and Co, author of a book called to leverage the framework for building repeatability in your business.

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And the 2nd, speaker 4 date is Trevor bottom venture partner at Southern 5.

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and the author of levers, and in this episode, we'll talk about both investing in serves and also content generation, more specifically writing books. You know, this is a long process takes sometimes more than a year.

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And today, we'll talk about who needs to write 1 when is that worth the time that to you to write a book when you should seek to more simpler content generation tools like blogs or.

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A test, so with you, giving us your background and tell us a little bit more about textures and then we'll move on to Trevor.

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Yeah, sure. So so I'm currently the managing director of tech stars in Austin um, the, the CO, author of the book levers, the framework for building repeatability into your business.

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Also, the author of sell more faster.

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And really, you know, I'd say the 1st, uh, you know.

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2423 years of my life, I was an operator.

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Trying to build trying to build businesses. I've successfully built 5 of 5 businesses over the last 24 years.

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And then 6 years ago I joined tech stars where I've been investing in early stage companies.

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And, uh, yeah, that's a that's a little bit about me.

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Perfect let's go into Trevor. Charles, tell us a little bit more about yourself and about 7 and 5.

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Sounds great. Thanks for having us.

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I similar to an operator at heart.

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I stumbled my way into entrepreneurship 1st, at an agency that I ran, and then through a social commerce startup, and then came over to the, the more investor support side.

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And I've, I've worked a good amount with Amos over the years, and of invested in companies previously at a TechStars. And now at Saturn, 5 and Saturn 5 is a.

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A venture fund that does 2 things we, we launch, and we grow imaginative startups and we buy and we build.

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Uh, small businesses, and in this, this book levers.

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That I'm missing a CO authors honor,

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or is really their kind of culmination of the thinking and working that we've been doing both in,

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in our in our companies and the companies that we've worked with around giving them the tools and ability to drive repeatability in the business and identify the levers of control that they have at their disposal to to create real growth.

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Nice. So, yeah, let's start off with that boot. Can you tell us a little more about the thinking process that was behind the start of the book? What was it like, you know, when you're like, all right.

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We need to write a book or do you just need each other and you're like, hey, I want to write a book you want to write with me, or how exactly. They'll work out. What were you consider any other content generation tools? Or do you know for sure that you will write a book specifically?

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So, it's it's a little bit to us a little bit of a funny story.

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I would say we very much did not want to write a book and I, I'd be curious to see if Trevor remembers it. The same.

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I had just written published somewhere faster about a year. Maybe 2 years earlier Trevor was involved in the book. It backed as 1 of the writers on it.

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And I think, you know, if you had asked us.

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Even the day before we decided to write levers, if we were going to write another book either 1 of us, we would have said, no.

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And, and really what it came down to was this Trevor just alluded to, or said this is a process. The levers process is a process that we've been using.

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You know,

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before our work at tech stars before work etc and 5 for many,

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many years,

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and we've seen it work and we've been using it at tech stars in Saturn 5 and we were sitting around 1 day and I don't remember who said it to who so I'll say it as if it were me,

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but it could've easily just as easily been Trevor.

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I said, you know, I bet you, we could probably write this book really, really fast.

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If we could get Cody, Sims and Troy cough to help us out and those are the people that we believe are the experts.

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In the specific areas of the book where they've contributed, and there, they are major contributors on the book.

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And so again, I don't remember who was me and Trevor, who said, let's just make leave it with me for a 2nd. So, let's just say, I said it, Trevor probably giggled and said, yeah, let's see if they're interested.

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And then I did call both of them that night and they both said emphatically. Yes.

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And I think from there, you know, because this is the work that we've all been doing for 20 years. Like, the research had been done we've been delivering these frameworks separately and together for a long time.

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And so this, the actual writing of the 1st draft was not very hard at all. I would actually say it took us a very, very short amount of time.

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The editing process is long, and there's a bunch of budget stuff that went into that, but that's my how I remember. I don't know Trevor. Do you have anything to add?

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Yeah,

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it was 100% you I definitely remember that that conversation and I remember thinking this is going to be way more work than we think it we think it's going to be and that's been both true and not

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true.

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I think it is definitely true that the 1st draft and kind of the core.

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Insights of the book or relatively easy, because they were driven from or burst from work that we've been doing for years and years and years. And and of course, Cody and choice.

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Collaboration had been a huge piece of that as well.

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But then making sure that this is this is a piece as a whole that we feel really confident in, and and are ready to share with the world and then just all the work of getting it out into the world is there's a whole nother a whole nother deal.

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So yeah, that's the only thing I'd add, but it's been a really fun journey and I think for us it was really about.

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We had really strong conviction.

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Around the the framework, right? The the key pieces that create a predictability repeatability.

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Uh, in a business from the perspective.

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And we hadn't seen we saw a big gap.

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And the like, the literature and the conversation and the language that.

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The business builders were using in.

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In the, in this area of bridging strategy or vision and tactics, sort of the, what's the key aspects of of a real metrics driven strategy?

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And so that for us was the, the real motivating factor was in our own businesses and working with companies. We've been, we've been working on this and and applying these principles over and over again.

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But we didn't have an easy way to say, hey, here's what that is. Here's what we mean.

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When we say creating repeatability and so the book was our attempt to put that down in writing and be able to share with others.

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I'm just going to I just want to jump in because I love something that Trevor said like, the, the, the 1st draft really did come together pretty fast.

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And I think 1 of the, just this is me paying homage to Trevor. 1 of the great things about getting to work with him, is that he's, he's able to take something good.

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Particularly in writing, but not actually not just in writing, but particularly in writing and make it great. And I think, you know, the, the, the hard work.

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That Trevor alluded to is how do we take this thing and make it something that we believe.

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I can stand the test of time, be really valuable to.

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Hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs all over the place. And so I think it's, you know, I think it's just maybe a signal of a good team because that's where Trevor really came in and just knocked it out of the park.

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Yeah, I mean, writing something that can stand the test of time is extremely hard. I mean, I myself.

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I'm reading a book that was written in, like, 19 seventies and it was about it's about sales and would not see myself doing that. But reading the book about a guy who is talking about some, some.

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Really old school trends, but those can still be applied in 21. so yeah, that's insane. And in 20 years, we'll see, we'll see if it does stand the test of time, but hopefully it does. And before we move on to talk about the book itself, few more questions 1.

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Is the obvious 1 you've touched on to Timeline? They're quite a bit. But how long does it take you the whole process? So, from the beginning, when you just start drafting the 1st draft.

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To the moment where it's going to be released, which is very soon, I believe right.

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Yeah, it gets released. Oh, go ahead, Trevor. Yeah, I was just gonna say that's right. Yeah, the, the book comes out officially April 20.

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The, the total timeline has been probably close to 2 years from the time we decided to write it and, and then ended up writing it.

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That journey was, of course, a lot of starts and stops where we got the 1st draft out relatively quickly and then each of us had very cyclical.

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Types of work where their seasons where we're just totally consumed and what we're doing in their seasons where it's more open. And so some of that was a sort of factor in the timeline and then just the work of getting it out into the world.

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Is, uh, you know, just takes time so.

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That's the timeline happy to jump into any of the kind of details of how we ended up writing it and.

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If if anybody's curious, if if if listeners are curious about.

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The what now around book book creation there will definitely be links to both Atmos and trevor's in those frequencies episode. So only check it out. If you have questions more.

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I mean, if you have more questions on writing books, specifically, definitely reach out to them and question about the motivation behind writing.

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Of course, there is a gap, but behind every single action, there has to be some kind of motivation was the major motivation for you. Was it established brand? Was it just spreading the word about your institutions? Was it's about.

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Around ideas. Okay. So you jump in tell me what was the reason for you guys.

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Yeah, I'll jump in 1st, but I would suspect it's not exactly the same for, for either of us, why we did it to begin with.

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Although what I'll say is maybe I'll go 1st and Trevor, and come in and Trevor can bring this in our. Now, our why has evolved and our Y is very much aligned.

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But I think for me, when I look back 2 years ago, when we 1st decided to to do this, I think it was a little less than I was like, 18 months ago. 20 months ago.

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It was after the what I would call pretty good success with somewhere faster. And the whole reason I wrote that book, which is the same reason I wrote this book is.

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That we work our, our whole.

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Professional existence evolves around helping entrepreneurs, be more successful on their endeavors in everything that we do is really around that. So, if you think about.

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You know, let's step back for a 2nd, think about what any company that's being built is trying to do. The 1st thing they're trying to do is establish whether or not.

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There is anyone who cares.

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And then, if they are, can they make an impact the positive impact connect company, make a positive impact on whoever their customers are and once they figure that out, the thing that they try to do next, is they try to get to repeatability.

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And scale to have a, the broadest impact possible.

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And for me, it was really that process we started with, you know, can we do this at the companies that were in right before we even knew 1 another.

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Learn how to do that then bringing that work.

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To a broader group of people in the work that we're doing day to day, helping helping and mentoring, hundreds of companies a year and investing in dozens of companies a year.

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And this seemed like for me, the next logical step in a broader impact on something that we know works.

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And we know we'll have a positive impact and so it was it for me, it was initially it was really, how do you have the broadest impact possible for people that that need this kind of help.

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Yeah, yeah, I think that's right. Yeah, I think that's a that's pretty aligned and pretty similar to the, the thinking that I had when we 1st started.

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I'd say that now that we're here 1 of the things that I'm I'm really excited about is, is we've taken in each part of this book and put it into a format that allows us to go deeper with companies.

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Uh, who want to go deeper onto it and and want to spend some time.

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Working directly with us, and with other.

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Ceos, so so there's a clear opportunity now from that book for, for people to dig in further.

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So we have a a month long experience that we can guide through that are that are taking each step of this framework and, and flushing it out and going deep into their businesses specifically.

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So I see this book is a great opportunity to have a huge impact. Broadly, and and also we have ways to.

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For them to dig deeper when they're when they're interested.

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So, yeah, then just 2 more questions on the release, and then we'll talk about the content of the book itself. So, 1st, question about the release design, if you're going to be giving it out for free, or if you're going to be charging for it.

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So, tell us a little bit more about what's the.

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Thinking frozen behind that decision. Are you going to be giving out for free or, or it can be charging X amount of money for.

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Happy to jump in here. Yeah. Go ahead. Go ahead. Trevor. Great. Yeah, it's an interesting question. And we worked with a great group. I'll give credit where it's due to a group. They said Austin called scribe.

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Who's the publishing partner that we worked with?

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And they've helped us think through this question in depth and for us, we believe deeply and value it the real value is going to be exchanged.

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If there's some sort of skin in the game, there needs to be a little bit of or for value to be exchanged. It needs to be a little bit of skin in the game. And so it makes sense to us.

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Not that we're doing this to make a ton of money off the book sales, but to charge a little bit for it to impart value into the experience.

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So,

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yeah,

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the book will be for sale,

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it's going to be,

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maybe remember that books are sold in both paper back end and Kendall versions and,

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and I won't giveaway too much,

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but the week of launch,

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we'll have a pretty great deal for people who are interested in buying,

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and so it'll be April 20th when it when it comes out.

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So the Kindle version in particular is going to have a pretty great.

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A, pretty good deal attached to it, but that's the that's our thinking our price.

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I think the last time I bought an actual paper beeper book cause, I think, like 34 years ago. So, yeah, looking forward to checking it on Kindle and seeing what's inside speaking about what's inside.

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Tell us a little bit, just a little bit more about the brief overview and then we'll go a little bit in depth into the key factors, dial our ability and specifically sales.

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Well, I'll jump in here and Trevor can fill in any gaps.

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The, the overview is this the, we believe that in order to and I would say we believe, but I would say, look at any of the, the best, most, long sustaining businesses that are out there.

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And they are metrics driven, whether or not, they define themselves that way. And at any stage in your company's life.

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Whether you're just an idea on the back of a napkin or a fortune, 10 company, understanding deeply.

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The metrics that drive your business forward, right?

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So these are the things, the lagging metrics that you see backwards, but the things that you're trying to predict into the future, the better that you can get at that and the more data driven and metrics driven you are the better chance you have success and sustained growth.

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And so what we've done is, we and I think we're going to go into the details in the next question. So I won't go too deep. But what we've done is we've created a book.

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That's a series of 5 frameworks that takes you through a journey of how to figure out the things that you should be focusing on from a customer perspective in a business model perspective.

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And a product perspective, so that you can identify with data.

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The things to work on when, and why.

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How to measure, not whether they're working so that you can unlock the next thing. And the next thing, as your business continues to grow. And so the, it is a very intentional progression order that the frameworks are set in.

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So that they, they sort of build off each other so that the combination is.

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The ability for you to build a plan that is based in metrics and data that you can then go execute against.

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Um, so that eventually what you're building essentially is a crystal ball into what the future will look like for you.

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Nice. So, yeah, let's talk about sales then specifically. Can you tell us allowed the 3 key factors that allow profitability specifically in the sales process and start.

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You mean, from the 1st framework? Yeah.

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Yeah, so 1st, let me touch on all 5 frameworks are and then I'll jump into your question just so there's context for the listener. So yeah, the 5 frameworks in order the 1st, we call it finding your W3.

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Which is the thing I'm going to go deeper on in a 2nd, but it's essentially.

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Um, validating who you believe your customer is validating with data that that is who your customer will be at scale and understanding how, you know, so that's framework number 1 framework.

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Number 2, we call finding your revenue formula and essentially it's a way to turn your, your.

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For business into a math equation, and then understanding in that math equation what are all the things that drive.

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Your ability to move the values in your math equation, which is essentially how you move your business model forward.

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So, starts as a theory and over time turns into, you know, how your business actually actually runs in scales that the 3rd, we call validate validating your priorities. So, it's taking on all of the work from the 1st, 2 frameworks.

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And essentially using a, a methodology of that that Cody created.

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So that the reader or the person working with us.

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Can then take all of the work from.

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Framework 1 and 2, and figure out truly what is the thing they should be working on now? And what is the thing they should be working on next.

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The 4th framework, which which is created specifically for our methodology is is figuring out your KPI.

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So, it's it's, it's based on the whole leverage framework and it's something Trevor created, which is a way to use all of the work from frameworks, 12 and 3 to very easily identify the things. You should be measuring. How do you know, whether or not they're working?

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And how to and what are the next things you should be measuring.

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And the final framework, and this is where it sort of all culminates is taking the work.

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From those 1st, 4 frameworks and building a forward looking data driven financial model in which you extract a plan your plan, whether that plan is for the next quarter for the next year for the next 5 years.

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So that you have a forward looking model, that is the mechanics of your business and a plan to execute against.

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And if you're using this process, the right way, you're actually likely revisiting it, probably weekly and monthly, like, at a high level and, you know, every quarter to 6 months on a much deeper level, because things evolve and changes you learn more.

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So that's an overview of sort of, the entire process and so more specifically to your question the 3, the figuring out who your customer is, it's really 3 simple questions. But the thing that we sort of.

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Strongly encourage or force you to do is to is to improve your right or wrong. The answer to these 3 questions. And those questions are.

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Who is your customer? What are they buying from? You.

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And why are they buying it? And so just to quickly go through the 3.

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For the who it's not using a few examples. It's not high level. Like, oh, we sell to the health care industry. It's, it's being very, very specific.

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We sell to the health care industry. We saw the private hospitals that are between 501,000 employees. We sell to the director of it.

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Typically that director of has been in the industry for more than 5 years but in the company for less than 1.

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They, the, the, the hospital uses a very specific 3 specific software as we're replacing all 3.

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And that the person that we're selling to is 1 of their top 3 priorities this year, to figure out the thing that we're selling to them to figure out a solution for that. So, that would be an example, a very specific example of a.

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An example, an example of what I think this is really important because usually, when you say, you know, what, when you ask a founder, what do you do? They'll describe, like, oh, we have a platform. That does this or we do this for.

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We do this, but but if you think about it from a from a buyer's perspective, nobody really cares what you do. They only care what you do for them. And so what we're, we're basically encouraging to do is figure that out.

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So that you can articulate it until the example that I would give you is if you think about Google.

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Google sell search advertising, but if you're a marketer, you're not buying search advertising, you're buying sales or you're buying leads or you're buying research. So, what is it that the customer your customer is actually buying from? You.

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And then the 3rd question is the, why, why are they buying? Does it save the money as it save them time? Does it increase profits? Does it increase margin? Like what's the actual why that matters to them?

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And an important nuance here, is that particularly and B2 B companies.

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There's 2 eyes, there's the business, why saves them money save them time make some money, make some time something else.

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There's also the individual buyer, you know, if you can sell a product that can increase the, the profit of your customers by 5%. But if it doesn't impact.

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Your individual buyer positively, they're not motivated necessarily to work with you, because it just may be more work for them. So understanding the, the motivations and the whys both at the company level and at the buyer level.

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That's the who or so that's the, the sales aspect.

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Got it, and before we move on to Trevor quick, follow up question on, you know.

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Data qualifying basically the who is the customer to find that, you know, scalability of the customer? How many samples do you need to? I mean.

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Sample if we can call that that way, how many customers do you need to have to say that? You know, this is the niche that seems to be scalable.

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This is the customer segment that work can be working with for another 10 years.

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Yeah, so it depends a lot on the industry that you're in, the product that you're selling it. Really it really does. And I think really more than anything what you're looking for.

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There's a couple of things in the early days you're looking to try to get to a yes, basically a 100% of the time. And that is because you've narrow down so much on your on your who what?

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And why on your W3 that you just know if they meet this profile, they will buy period. That's not where you're ending. That's just where you're starting.

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Because if you did that, and you limit your tab, and no 1 wants to do that, but it should feel limiting at 1st but what you want to do from there is essentially build a list of all the attributes.

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From that profile, and then you can expand out from there.

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So, I'm not not answering your question, but I'm not answering it directly. I think the thing that you're really trying to do is you're trying to figure out, like, how do you, how do you get a? Yes. Almost always. And why are you getting that? Yes.

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Really deeply understanding it, so that you can start to go much more broadly to, by taking the attributes and things like, okay, we set up the hospitals from 500 to 1000 employees.

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Now, we're going to go to 5,000 employees, or now we're going to go to public hospitals or now we're going to get people that haven't been in the job quite as long or been in the job longer and adding adding things like that.

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Trevor, you have something to add on this.

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I think that's great. What I miss. That is. Exactly right. And I think it's important to know too is his comment that it it will feel limiting at 1st.

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That this exercise is really an exercise in in narrowing down.

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To something that you've got almost full control over, or at least full predictability over, you know, 100% of the time if we find this profile right?

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If this this customer comes in becoming contact with them, they are absolutely going to say yes. And then if you can get to that point, that's and you can start expanding outward.

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So it can be a little bit counterintuitive especially I would say, for for early stage founders, who are thinking.

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Uh, for what toward what's gonna what's going to be true at scale but the, the path to that scale is not always linear.

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100% yeah, and absolutely love. 1 founders are focusing on a very, very small audience. Now, when they say that total addressable market at the moment is, like, I know.

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100Million dollars. That's great. That's great. Actual love seeing that versus people who say that their addressable market is trailings over dollars you know so, yeah, definitely.

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On the same page here with you guys love the approach and now we're moving on to the very last question of this episode, the call to action. So well, hey, before you, I want I want to jump in. I want to go for it. Yeah.

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So, I think I think it's okay if you're your long term 1020 year vision is a multi 1Billion dollar 1Trillion dollar Tam. That's great.

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The place where I think a lot of founders get caught up is they think that they can get all of those customers at once. And the challenge becomes that.

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You know, when you're when you're trying to boil the ocean, you don't truly understand who your customers are. You can't actually scale that. So you're not limiting your Tam but what you're doing is you're taking a subset. You're saying, like, I'm gonna I'm going to own this. I'm going to nail it and then I'm going to continue to grow from there.

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Right, yes try to avoid boiling. The ocean does definitely a good advice. That is something something founders should Elise into for. Sure.

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So now that we've covered all of this stuff, moving on to the last question after these episode call to action.

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So, what do you want to least have to do as soon as the app is over and by the way, keep in mind that these episode will come out most likely on the week of the release of the book. So, maybe that's going to be the conversation.

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Maybe we both have calls to action I would say, for me, there's, there's 2, depending on who you are, I would say, please, definitely buy the book either for yourself or for a founder that, you know, you believe has the potential to build a.

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A huge business and wants to be metrics driven and if you want to work with us directly, you can reach out to us or emails or in the book our emails are all over linked in. And we also work with people directly on the frame.

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Yeah, and just to add to that Amazon easy place to find a Kindle again, the week of launch, it will be heavily discounted. So good opportunity to get the book then and you can also go to levers book dotcom to reach out to us. If you want to.

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You want to contact us directly? Perfect good conversation. Let me sure. Delete all those links and grouped into this episode. I'll also leave a link directly to the book and the description of this episode. So, you don't have to go to Amazon and search yourself, because it's too complicated.

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Yeah. If you're interested, if you want to learn more about those frameworks about making your business more available and making your sales more appendable definitely. Checkout descriptions episode, everything is going to be there and yeah, that's getting.

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And it's usually have a good and they.