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Do This One Simple Thing to Unleash a Flood of Sales for Your Business with Joe Tiano CEO of Legal Decoder

Do This One Simple Thing to Unleash a Flood of Sales for Your Business with Joe Tiano CEO of Legal Decoder

Do This One Simple Thing to Unleash a Flood of Sales for Your Business with Joe Tiano CEO of Legal Decoder | Ep. 115 | Business Podcast

Do This One Simple Thing to Unleash a Flood of Sales for Your Business with Joe Tiano CEO of Legal Decoder
Do This One Simple Thing to Unleash a Flood of Sales for Your Business with Joe Tiano CEO of Legal Decoder

Summary

Entrepreneurs have so many great ideas and once they settle on building one of them into a business they find ways the product or service can solve even more problems.

Hey, we’re entrepreneurs, we get excited right?! However…

That can get in the way of sales, profits and sometimes even leads a business to fail. 

Ease drop in on a conversation Joe Tiano and I had on the this one “simple” thing we’ve found, through building product and services businesses, that always seems to be the key to more sales and a successful business.

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Brandon: 

Hello Friends. Welcome to the show. Today we’re bringing back joe Tian, oh my first attorney ever and an attorney turned entrepreneur. And we were having a conversation the other day. We call each other probably once every two weeks or so. Just to talk about how our businesses are doing and shoot the stuff. 

And we stumbled upon a really great conversation on what we had learned from building product and service companies. 

And it’s really this one key thing of making it really simple and focusing on one problem you’re solving, you’re going to love this conversation. 

Here we go. 

Welcome to build the business success secrets. The only podcast that provides straight talk for entrepreneurs, whether you’re an entrepreneur starting with an idea or growing your business. This show is for you. We’ll teach you how to build a strong mindset, powerful body and profitable business so you can achieve success and here’s your host Brandon. See White, was it a traumatic drop off experience? 

Well, the one good thing about living in Scottsdale is everything’s new, The one bad thing about living in Scottsdale’s everything new and it’s under construction. 

So every time you drive back there’s like detours and whatever and so you kind of have to game the system and every time you gain the system with like trying to avoid construction, there’s like a detour into the detour, on a detour, that a detour on a detour on a detour. 

Brandon: 

So are they, are the young men excited to be back in school? 

Brandon: 

Oh yeah, they’re they’re totally fired up. 

Brandon: 

They’ve been back for a long time now, so it’s good. 

Joe: 

Are you emeritus fired up about it? 

Brandon: 

Extraordinarily fired up. 

Brandon: 

More fired up than they are actually. 

Joe: 

I think that might be the case across the country, don’t you know? 

Brandon: 

I do. 

Brandon: 

Mhm. 

Joe: 

Today we’re talking about how to hone your idea. 

Brandon: 

Well, you and I were talking on the phone about it and I was thinking in the shower this morning, what I need to do is when you and I talk sometimes I just need to run down here, hit the road. 

Joe: 

Castor Pro hit record and then it will just be organic. 

Joe: 

Then we don’t have to reschedule the discussion. 

Joe: 

Right? 

Joe: 

The road Castor pro probably should be on auto record all the time. 

Joe: 

I know that’s what I’m thinking then then we wouldn’t have to plan podcast. 

Brandon: 

But you had a good idea. 

Brandon: 

What was it that we were talking about today when you and I were talking about a host of business stuff. 

Joe: 

I think the idea kind of revolved around um the best business ideas are the simplest business ideas. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, So I’ll get us primed and I think you’re right and I made a bunch of mistakes. I was actually reading an article this morning and it said one of the hardest problems business leader faces is picking the right problem to solve. 

Joe: 

There are plenty of ways to get this wrong. 

Joe: 

You can work on a problem that is not causing intense customer pain, causes intense customer pain, but you lack world class skills to relieve, it causes intense customer pain. 

Joe: 

You have great skills, but the market opportunity is too small and or there’s a huge market with lots of competitors and your product lacks a compelling customer value proposition. 

Joe: 

And that doesn’t necessarily honing exactly what we were talking about. 

Joe: 

I think the other thing you were talking, you and I were talking about, which I really learned unfortunately, over two decades is solve one problem that is simple for people to understand that incorporates one of the four things that I just read or the inverse of it. 

Joe: 

Right? 

Joe: 

Yeah, for sure because there’s so many knock on consequences too to trying to do too much. 

Brandon: 

Well maybe we can talk a little bit. 

Brandon: 

I mean I’m happy to talk about my failures in this, but I think one of the things you found with your business legal decoder is that and I remember we were in that office and where was it? 

Joe: 

Northern Virginia? Whatever that. 

Joe: 

Uh No. Was it D. C. Where was your office in D. C. 

Joe: 

No, you’re right. It was in northern Virginia were in like this little closet of a space and we were just white boarding ideas, right? 

Brandon: 

And we came up with this big fancy thing, but one of the things, well big fancy interface and multiple problems. 

Joe: 

We were solving multiple problems. 

Joe: 

But you had this idea That ultimately it all would come down to one score and that one scorer based on legal firms, uh, I don’t know, billing, you can fill it in was really to understand, really easy to understand and articulate, which is a real problem. 

Joe: 

One problem, one message, one score versus a whole dashboard with multiple things. 

Joe: 

Like the other day, you were talking about your customers say I love all this, but what are the three things? 

Joe: 

And then I remember you and I came up and I think you still have, it is a red, light, yellow, yellow, light, green light to convey where you are or where the customer is based on what your product outputs. 

Joe: 

Yeah, I mean sort of distilled down to the challenges that we were talking about the other day, some feedback that I that I was just kind of getting from the market and I think this is really helpful to anybody who’s kind of thinking about tackling a challenge. 

Joe: 

And and I just think that, you know, from an entrepreneur’s perspective and especially from from my perspective as a lawyer, I tend to get like way, way, way into the weeds, way, way, way too over analytical. 

Joe: 

And I think many entrepreneurs do this because you kind of come up with an idea and you’re like, wow, we could like do this and this and this, and this, and this and this and this, and you kind of start conjuring up all of the different things that, you know, your baby can do when when the market winds up being kind of focused on on one problem. 

Joe: 

But the feedback that I was getting from a customer was man, you know, like I get into your dashboard and I like I click on one thing and I’m like, wow, that’s really interesting, And then I’ll click again and I’ll click again and I’m like, all of these, all of these data points are like coming at me and this guy is like a day to walk, you know, a real data junkie loves to get into sort of like the weeds and wants to know why and keeps clicking and clicking and it’s really, you know, peeling back layers of the onion and it’s like unearthing all of this, all of these really, really great insights and release, digesting all of this great information and the next thing he knows, it’s like he looks up from his screen, it’s like digest all this really good stuff. 

Joe: 

He’s like, I just spent 90 minutes near the dashboard, I just lost 90 minutes of my time finding out really, really cool stuff. 

Joe: 

But I just lost 90 minutes of my life. 

Joe: 

And he said, what would be really great is if you just kind of punch me between the eyes and tell me here are the four things that I really need to know. 

Joe: 

And told me those four things up front because I’m a power user. 

Joe: 

I love getting into the weeds. 

Joe: 

But what the average user needs is a summary of those four most salient points right up front. 

Brandon: 

And he got me thinking about the simplicity with which any, any business, any entrepreneur really, any business really needs to kind of deliver a product or a service or a technology. 

Brandon: 

And you and I were kind of sitting outside. 

Brandon: 

Uh, I was sitting outside when, when you and I were talking and I’ve got a, I’ve got a Tv outside, um, uh, that I’m able to watch and I was like looking at my remote control and like the remote controls, like the most complicated thing in the world, right? 

Brandon: 

And like all I really want on my remote control is an on off button, right? 

Brandon: 

I wanna volume up down button and I want to channel up down button, that’s it, right? 

Brandon: 

But these remote controls nowadays, it’s like you could do everything with like these remote control buttons. 

Brandon: 

And I don’t mean to be a dinosaur when I kind of think through sort of the simplicity with which I want my remote control to do this. 

Brandon: 

But what do I really want my remote control do? 

Brandon: 

I wanted to turn on and off my device, right. 

Brandon: 

I wanted to from the volume up and down And I wanted to, you know, move to channel up and down. 

Brandon: 

And then and then I think the the point that you made when we were kind of talking about sort of the simplicity that most users want. 

Brandon: 

I don’t want to talk about the power users who want to get into spend 90 minutes to get to all the data points you said, Yeah. 

Brandon: 

You know who really got it right, Apple, like they don’t give you an instruction manual. 

Brandon: 

And and and and those, those two points when we were talking that was sort of that was the genesis of this podcast about the simplicity with which you really got to develop things for the marketplace at large. 

Brandon: 

And then all of the knock on effects that that has in terms of, you know, training your salesforce for a complicated product as opposed to a simple product and the value proposition for a simple product as opposed to a complicated product and product development as for a simple product. 

Brandon: 

I mean, it just it has so many knock on effects, you know, in terms of trying to boil the ocean, as opposed to solving a product that gets your business from point A to point B in a straight line, as opposed to sort of a zigzagging line. 

Brandon: 

I think that’s right, and I think that your point on cascading affects of what happens if you have too complicated or product down as you are saying, your salesforce or even your marketing material. 

Brandon: 

This guy here, harry Perry Belcher, who’s in the copyrighting on direct marketing world, is well known and I got invited to a copyrighting seminar that you have to have this special invite. 

Brandon: 

But he invited me and I went for three days and it was incredible and one of the things, and I knew this from my psychology studies, but sometimes you need to hear it from an outside voice to say, oh yeah, I remember that and then bring it forward and then you use it for the next 10 years. 

Brandon: 

Which was in his experience, he found that when you put a marketing message forward to a consumer that has more than one thing more than one problem, they can’t grasp it and they get confused. 

Brandon: 

And I started to break this down when I looked at some psychology studies and there’s some popular ones out there, but there was a barbecue sauce company or little company that was selling at farmers markets And they didn’t experiment where they put three flavors And then they put 15 or 12. 

Brandon: 

I don’t know exactly, don’t quote me. 

Brandon: 

But the study basically showed that When there was 12 options, consumers paralyzed themselves when there were three. 

Brandon: 

It was much easier. 

Brandon: 

And actually, if you only had one, it would be even easier if you think about um what’s the not, not a one sauce? 

Brandon: 

Tres moisture share sauce. 

Brandon: 

Like there’s just one Worcestershire sauce. 

Brandon: 

I mean there may be 10 on that shelf, but for me there’s the one in the brown paper and I buy it every time. 

Brandon: 

Like not Worcestershire sauce with a spike of chili in it or just Worcestershire sauce. 

Brandon: 

And it’s an easy decision. 

Brandon: 

My brother and I did that when we did our fishing clothing company, We only made two colors of shirts. 

Joe: 

It was really simple. 

Brandon: 

You either picked the blue one Or the Tan one and I think there’s something to this. 

Brandon: 

And as I’ve really in the last few years been doing more copyrighting online, it’s really hard to sell multiple features. 

Brandon: 

The other thing I wanted to ask you before I forget is as you were speaking, I was reflecting on my experience with a technology company that I did Zeus that could build a blueprint of your life from your digital communications, which is sort of scary. 

Brandon: 

But I wonder joe do you think in this? 

Brandon: 

And I do want to say to all listeners, while joe and I are talking about tech right now, the truth of the matter is it applies to product, any product, physical or, or virtual and services period. 

Brandon: 

Having said that, do you think that we, as entrepreneurs make up more functions and features, because we don’t have enough belief in the main problem that we were looking to solve. 

Brandon: 

So we build these other things around it because we’re scared that it won’t work. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I think it’s a hedge. 

Brandon: 

I think you’re absolutely right. 

Brandon: 

I take it to hedge, I think it’s a hedge. 

Brandon: 

Um it’s a fall back on, well if people don’t like this product, um then then maybe, you know, maybe Plan B is is the right one and you don’t have to necessarily scrap um everything that you’re that you’re doing and it’s it’s the proverbial, you know, overused term pivot rather than a whole still restart. 

Brandon: 

It’s because you know, in the theory pivoting is easier than starting over. 

Brandon: 

I also think it’s late. 

Brandon: 

I’m sorry, I think it’s lazy on our part because if you really do your if you really do your homework and you really dig in, then you will understand if that one problem you are aiming to solve is a real problem or not because people will either pay you or they won’t and then you create the hedges around it so that so that if if and when that happens And then you become diluted, then you can’t remember what your main problem was. 

Brandon: 

Then 50 people are gonna say I like that feature in this feature then you can’t figure out what feature you should have put in there or what problem you should have been solving. 

Brandon: 

That’s true, that’s true. 

Joe: 

Um But there are times when the vision may be ahead of the market. 

Joe: 

So I could say for instance um in our business and legal decoder, I was talking about legal spend analytics when nobody cared about legal spend analytics back in 2014. 

Joe: 

Big data in law, No one cared about it. 

Joe: 

I mean it’s not that I’m some sort of brilliant guy or I’m ahead of my time or visionary. 

Joe: 

Those those words are better attributed to people who are truly visionaries and ahead of their time. 

Joe: 

It had an idea about like using data to make better decisions at a particular time, right? 

Joe: 

But the market just wasn’t ready for it. 

Joe: 

Um When when when we started we just happened to be talking about it early on and we had the resources in the stick to itiveness to be able to hang on so that the market could ultimately could ultimately catch up to where we were at the time. 

Joe: 

All things being equal. 

Joe: 

We could have and probably should have died on the vine. 

Joe: 

Um If if we if we didn’t have the resources, we that that’s probably what should have happened because the market wasn’t there in the time that that that for normal people, resources should have should have should have been exhausted. 

Joe: 

So so the heads that that we made was, well let’s keep pivoting and pivoting and pivoting and trying and trying and trying and hopefully at some point something we’ll just keep throwing spaghetti against the wall and something will stick. 

Joe: 

It wasn’t really um, the heads is for us really weren’t out of laziness, it was out of, well, we’ve built something, somebody somewhere has to see the vision that we’re seeing. 

Joe: 

And eventually the market kind of caught up with sort of where the vision was Everybody else back in 2014, whether it was sales or marketing or human resources, they were paying attention to big data, but legal was just, I mean it’s just a segment or an industry that it’s slow to adopt technology, slow to adopt innovation. 

Joe: 

They just hadn’t hadn’t caught up yet. 

Joe: 

Um, but we’re kind of going a little bit of stray of of of of what we had initially kind of what we’re thinking about that, that we still were trying to boil the ocean in the sense that we still were trying to develop a product that we’re going to try your I’m going to try this marketplace, this marketplace, this marketplace, this market with all different types of messages. 

Joe: 

With all different types of product offerings. 

Joe: 

With all different types of, of angles in terms of trying to find the product market fit. 

Joe: 

Oh, oh, Savings isn’t working well. 

Joe: 

How about transparency of transparency is not working well. 

Joe: 

How about efficiency? 

Joe: 

And so the refinement of, of the, of the product, the refinement of the message. 

Joe: 

The refinement of everything. 

Joe: 

Just, you know, it kept, I kept switching message messages because the product was so broad. 

Joe: 

The product offering was so broad because we didn’t kind of hone in on sort of to keep it simple. 

Joe: 

Stupid. 

Joe: 

What are we really trying to do? 

Joe: 

And, and, and we only kind of learn later on in life what we really were trying to do. 

Joe: 

It’s, hey guys, you have a ton of data which is just completely un categorized and is a complete unstructured mess. 

Joe: 

We help you structure your data like that’s a really easy message to convey. 

Joe: 

Like you could use your data for good right now. 

Joe: 

Right now your data is a mess. 

Joe: 

You can use your data for a strategic advantage. 

Joe: 

Right now. 

Joe: 

Your data is a mess. 

Joe: 

We can help you monetize your data and and all of the other messaging that we had was too complicated. 

Joe: 

All of the other products that we’re offering were peel back the onion data. 

Joe: 

And and that was the challenge. 

Joe: 

I mean it all came with like an instruction manual like this. 

Joe: 

Whereas we should have had the Apple, no instruction manual approach from the start. 

Joe: 

Well I think there’s a lot to unpack in there. 

Joe: 

There was a company called, I think it’s okay to which is a public company now was funded by who’s Mike Maples. 

Joe: 

He’s a floodgate and and I think he called it, I’m gonna tribute give him credit because I think if you look it up he did, he made up this, they made it up, he called it back casting what they did. 

Joe: 

I originally didn’t quite understand that from the fly fishing perspective. 

Joe: 

Um but what he meant by the, I think the tickers okay to as well, but they do identity management effectively for people who are doing data processing in the cloud and back when they started, nobody had that vision. 

Joe: 

The guy who founded it worked at Salesforce and it was starting to see what was happening with computing in the cloud the long and short of it. 

Joe: 

Is that what he explains that companies like yours and and what I’ve experienced as well is that you have a vision for the future and instead of forecasting by looking at the past and then making a plan on the future, you go to the future and you pull the present to you and I’m conflicted on this one. 

Joe: 

Um I think there’s a lot of good messaging, one is if you really believe the market’s gonna go where your product is, then make sure you can survive, which probably means you’re going to have to raise money or figure out another revenue source. 

Joe: 

And there’s a lot of implications in in both of those things. 

Joe: 

One is distraction, which I experienced, I got into it into a business that paid the bills, but didn’t allow us to stay on the core product, but I didn’t want to raise more venture money because I didn’t want more terms and more delusion and therein lies the paradox of that, which is probably a nine day seminar. 

Brandon: 

The the other parts why I have some conflict is because and you know Tom who was a partner at Sequoia who was always tell the story and you were the lawyer when we brought that deal originally, but he told me once if you have to educate the market about your product, it becomes a problem because you’re spending so much you have to educate and it sounds like that’s what Originally you were doing was trying to educate. 

Brandon: 

I’m not picking on you, I’m just using that as an example to say and I did this with five million white papers and webinars and in person visits that cost way too much money and plane ticket, hotel and food is to basically educate the market, why the problem you’re solving is important and and that becomes really expensive. 

Brandon: 

So so tom had told me in the early days, like if you have to do that, that’s a problem. 

Brandon: 

Like that’s not a good, well, it’s a, I should say this, everybody’s, everybody’s opinion is only their opinion. 

Brandon: 

It doesn’t mean that it is true or not true or over encompassing, but from an investment perspective, that wasn’t a bet that he would make. 

Brandon: 

Now. 

Brandon: 

You know, that was something I was listening to because I wanted, I wanted him as an investor and advisor mentor and everything else. 

Brandon: 

So I was listening to that. 

Brandon: 

Um, but I also found it to be true in that first internet company that how you and I met the value proposition. 

Brandon: 

There was really simple. 

Brandon: 

We help you catch more fish. 

Brandon: 

Like I don’t need to say anything else you were interested. 

Joe: 

That was the elevator pitch. 

Joe: 

Hey joe if you’re a fisherman, hey, I can help you catch more fish. 

Joe: 

And bigger ones. 

Joe: 

Oh well tell me how we do that. 

Joe: 

Didn’t matter whether I had a better lower. 

Joe: 

It doesn’t matter whether we’re an internet site. 

Joe: 

Didn’t matter whether we were doing a webinar and that’s really apples message, right? 

Joe: 

We will make life easy for you and and think differently. 

Brandon: 

They use that emotional tag. 

Brandon: 

But really their message these days to me is it’s just simple. 

Brandon: 

Like we’ll make your, we’ll make technology simple. 

Brandon: 

If I was to build a new tagline for them, what do you think? 

Brandon: 

So? 

Brandon: 

Let me ask you a question. 

Brandon: 

Right, so we help you catch more fish And I’m literally asking these questions. 

Brandon: 

I don’t know the answer. 

Brandon: 

I used to go fishing on the Long Island Sound with a buddy of mine when I was living up in the Northeast every saturday if I didn’t catch a fish, I didn’t care every saturday morning. 

Brandon: 

We used to go out on his boat At 6:00 AM and it was the greatest Saturday ever. 

Brandon: 

Even if I didn’t catch a fish, just enjoyed just getting out, not working, not thinking about anything, being on a boat, trawling bottom fishing, just enjoyed it. 

Brandon: 

Didn’t, didn’t have to catch fish. 

Brandon: 

There are two types of fishermen and I may have been in the minority or I just didn’t care if I caught a fish when you were thinking about worldwide angler, Did you, did you think about the two types of audiences? 

Brandon: 

You might have had the paul type fishermen who was the guy who I was with, who wanted to catch fish. 

Brandon: 

You wanted to catch as many fish as you can and wanted to catch bigger fish. 

Brandon: 

And then there was the piano type fishermen who was like, I didn’t care. 

Brandon: 

I just, I would go out and just want to be out on the water and relax. 

Brandon: 

Did that matter to you as you were kind of thinking about your business? 

Brandon: 

It did, yeah. 

Brandon: 

I wanted people who wanted to catch more fish and bigger fish because there’s the people that we’re gonna be on the site longer they were going to tune in and it mattered people like you, we’re recreational in the sense that it could have been fishing for all. 

Brandon: 

It could have been birdwatching. 

Brandon: 

I mean, and there was just no money in that. 

Brandon: 

And I think that’s the other part that scares people is that. 

Brandon: 

And I will admit that in the beginning and I’ll extend that. 

Brandon: 

I also thought that I needed to address people who cared about conservation turns out they don’t really spend as much money or can they can but it becomes political and political discussions divide people and once people are divided, they can attribute that to your brand and then they don’t spend money. 

Brandon: 

I think Michael Jordan said in that series that there was a clip that he once said, he said, I don’t they said why don’t you get involved in political things? 

Brandon: 

And he said, well republicans, democrats and independents all by air jordans. 

Brandon: 

I mean and you could say, well why didn’t you use your platform to make a difference? 

Brandon: 

And and someone could pick on him for that, but someone could celebrate him for being a enterprise er who wanted to make money and you can’t just take your judgment and put it on someone and say it’s right or wrong. 

Brandon: 

There’s a lot of great area and some of it’s not gray, you just you can’t always put your ideals on someone else because that’s what you believe. 

Brandon: 

You have to be willing to see a different perspective. 

Brandon: 

And going back to your question, what I learned was, was that the people that I really wanted where saltwater fisherman who wanted to catch more fish and bigger fish because that was the motivated general driver that would that they cared about the, all the other people were interested and probably still came. 

Brandon: 

But the scary part of that experience is is that you start to wiggle your mark it down. 

Brandon: 

So now I will say that I did, I did eventually understand, I understood it from a fishing perspective. 

Brandon: 

I didn’t understand it from an online dynamic, which to this day, I say to anyone trying to create a community online, you must have something that moves almost daily, meaning saltwater fish moved daily. 

Brandon: 

The tides changed the weather change, which caused the fish to move. 

Brandon: 

So you had to come back to our site to get information. 

Brandon: 

It’s why the stock, it’s why CNBC. 

Brandon: 

Well, unless the stock markets go away, they will always have a business because every quarter there’ll be a company every day the stock goes up or down, there’s always something to talk about. 

Brandon: 

So in my case and I had originally thought that I would go after freshwater fishing and I’ll finish that thoughts of people understand in freshwater fishing. 

Brandon: 

The in general, the fish generally stay in the same spot, meaning I go out, fly out the Jackson hole right now, go to the Snake River and I bet you the trout that I know where they are, they’re still hiding behind the same rocks. 

Brandon: 

I’m not saying they don’t move ever in general, they don’t move in those saltwater environments. 

Brandon: 

and because of that, nobody’s going to report where they catch fish in the salt water experience dynamic online. 

Brandon: 

It the fish moved. 

Brandon: 

If I told you, I called him that love point or I called him at walnut point today or I call them in the false channel. 

Brandon: 

Okay. 

Joe: 

I’m not really giving up a spot necessarily because they could be gone tomorrow. 

Joe: 

Um and people were more willing to share. 

Joe: 

So I did think about that, joe and I think it, it is a good discussion as it relates to what big one problem are you solving for that niche part of your market And dont get scared that you’re starting to whittle down your market basically just don’t it? 

Joe: 

So for you, there’s no hedge. 

Joe: 

There was your, your market was the fishermen who is going to come back on a daily basis, a weekly basis, whatever it was because the fish are moving, they were passionate about wanting to catch more fish, bigger fish and they were the group that we’re going to spend money. 

Joe: 

I mean, you knew exactly here Market was so you didn’t need to hedge well. 

Joe: 

And they were Actually, ironically it was about 40 women, but in general then are predictable animals in that they want to catch the biggest fish. 

Joe: 

So if someone caught a big fish, they wanted to post a picture of a big fish too. 

Joe: 

And I understood that. 

Joe: 

I’m not saying that I’ll be candid. 

Joe: 

You knew me back then. 

Joe: 

I, I didn’t have some crazy acumen. 

Joe: 

I just was that consumer, I knew who I was as, as that saltwater fisherman. 

Joe: 

And I knew there was a lot of us out there that weren’t being served. 

Joe: 

And especially, I think we were like depending on who counts what, one of the first phishing sites that were quote unquote, putting a magazine online and creating community out there other than one fly fishing. 

Joe: 

So I called Real Time, which did a great job in the early days. 

Joe: 

Um but I did know that I did make mistake though, joe as I, and you remember this expanded to multiple regions before I owned my own region and that was, that was a mistake. 

Joe: 

But but you basically, you proved out our thesis, which is, you kept it simple, you had one audience, you had one product, you had one offering, you had one message. 

Joe: 

Uh True. 

Joe: 

And we had multiple revenue streams. 

Joe: 

I would say we had a third of our revenue from membership, a third of our revenue from advertising, a third of our revenue from e commerce. 

Joe: 

Um but I will admit to you that it was really, really hard to stay true to that. 

Joe: 

Um, whatever you want to call it a business strategy because I always wanted to be bigger and I wanted more people. 

Joe: 

But in the end, that’s what got me to sell the company for sure is was my message was really simple. 

Joe: 

We help you, we help people who live in the mid atlantic region catch more fish. 

Joe: 

Saltwater fishing. 

Joe: 

We help saltwater fisherman in the mid atlantic region, Chesapeake bay, mid atlantic region catch more fish period. 

Joe: 

And once I got that, waking up every day was really easy, waking up every day is easy anyway because I’m always excited about what’s to come. 

Joe: 

But waking up and doing the work was always easy because I didn’t have to build my plan. 

Joe: 

I already knew what I was doing. 

Joe: 

I just had to execute on that and serve that customer base. 

Joe: 

It’s a laser focused message where execution where the only variables, execution. 

Joe: 

Yeah, you don’t have to keep getting up in the morning and be like, hey joe, what what, what, what feature are we gonna build today so that we can address this segment of the market. 

Joe: 

You don’t have to, you don’t have to do that every morning. 

Joe: 

I just woke up and I was like, here’s what, here’s what we’re gonna do it. 

Joe: 

I mean you’re asking me the questions and bring that out. 

Joe: 

But in retrospect, that’s what got when I built that five year plan, it was, I’m going to ultimately dominate saltwater fishing in the Chesapeake bay, mid atlantic region. 

Joe: 

No one’s going to own it and I’m gonna wake up every single morning and serve that customer and only focus on that customer. 

Joe: 

And if I do that, then I’m going to build a good business, profitable business and someone’s going to want to buy that someday because it’s a great product. 

Joe: 

And the key is I think once you own that, once you get the process down, once that’s on autopilot, it can be replicated, you can grow, but you have to understand that message and then it’s not necessarily the franchise model, but the theory is the same where you can take all of the learnings, all of the processes, all of the mechanics take it and then build out either in other regions or build out other product lines within the same region that you own. 

Joe: 

But the key is to understand sort of that core, simple focus product that’s simply message to a targeted audience first, that’s the learning I think that we kind of stumbled upon on our, on our call the other night that I think is extremely important. 

Joe: 

I think we all make the mistake because we want to be bigger better, cooler. 

Joe: 

I don’t know what what what it is. 

Joe: 

I mean that other company that I invested in does the same thing. 

Joe: 

They help you find files that you know you have that can’t find faster. 

Joe: 

I mean are you interested? 

Joe: 

Everybody has, I mean a large segment of the population has that problem. 

Joe: 

They can’t find anything and they’ll help you find it faster. 

Joe: 

I mean it took a long time to get that to get that elevator pitch effectively is what it is, but it’s not just the elevator pitch, right joe. 

Joe: 

It’s it’s the it’s the execution. 

Joe: 

Every morning when that team wakes up, all they focus on is helping people find files faster that they know they have but can’t find there’s no other, there’s no other thing if it’s off that message, it’s out. 

Joe: 

Yeah. 

Joe: 

And and and the thing is is the the differentiators that you have sort of within your market don’t have to be sort of mind blowing or earth shattering differentiators. 

Joe: 

You simply have to be just marginally better than the next guy. 

Joe: 

I think. 

Joe: 

You and I had talked about um that cleaning company. 

Joe: 

I remember I was I was listening to a uh to a speech that this guy was giving um at some seminar that I was at. 

Joe: 

We’re talking about you know a cleaning company. 

Joe: 

I mean it’s you know they this company was um in the office cleaning business which can’t be any more of a sort of commoditized business. 

Joe: 

Where you know, how do you differentiate yourself? 

Joe: 

Has an office cleaning company? 

Joe: 

A. 

Joe: 

Because compared to office cleaning company B I mean differentiate yourself maybe on price or it’s difficult. 

Joe: 

Well somebody somebody came up with the brilliant idea of what we differentiate or a company based on the color of rags that we use. 

Joe: 

It’s so simple. 

Brandon: 

Like we we use we used green rags To wipe down what’s clean and red rags to wipe down what’s 30. 

Brandon: 

So we cleaned the dirty surfaces with the red rags once the surfaces are clean we dry them off with the clean green racks. 

Brandon: 

Right? 

Brandon: 

Because why would you want to dry off? 

Brandon: 

You know your dirty surfaces with sort of a dirty rag? 

Brandon: 

Right? 

Brandon: 

It’s so simple. 

Brandon: 

Like you would want your you would want your surface clean, you would want to dried off with a clean rack and they’ve got more business than their competitors. 

Brandon: 

It’s like it’s such a simple differentiator. 

Brandon: 

I mean maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. 

Brandon: 

But you know to somebody who’s looking for a differentiator in the cleaning business, it seemed to have worked because this company apparently got more business than others and and it applies to these businesses that are simple and laser focused on something that is that’s targeted to one mark it with a simple solution with a simple message. 

Brandon: 

If there are others that have sort of a simple product targeted to one market with a with an easy solution with a simple message. 

Brandon: 

It’s easy to find a differentiator that’s, that’s equally simple to be able to compete effectively. 

Brandon: 

It’s gotta think simply to create that differentiator. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

If I was going to build an elevator pitch for that company, it would be where the cleanest cleaning company you can have and here’s why and then just bring the rag thing up and boom. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, you told me they out sold all their competitors. 

Brandon: 

I mean, this is an incredible example of, of a commodity business effectively in the service business that generally driven by lower price in general that they smoke their competition with that, right? 

Joe: 

Yeah, super simple. 

Joe: 

Different theater, different color racks. 

Joe: 

Yeah. 

Joe: 

Well that, that’s uh, I think I’ve used this example before, but Al Segers was my innovation professor at UNC Chapel Hill and I did my MBA. 

Joe: 

And he, he had actually worked with steve jobs on the original iphone. 

Joe: 

He was part of that original team and he would bring in a bottle of voss water every class. 

Joe: 

And he would say, here’s an example of differentiate. 

Joe: 

Don’t think that this because you have a product of service, a commodity that you can’t differentiate yourself. 

Joe: 

It’s you’ve just got to pick that one thing you’re better at for this cleaning company. 

Joe: 

It’s we clean better than anyone else now. 

Joe: 

And then someone says, well how and then they go They do the Little speech you just said. 

Joe: 

And it makes sense. 

Joe: 

I mean it’s simple for voss water. 

Joe: 

It’s you’re going to be cooler if you drink boss for I think almost a better example of that is fuji water. 

Joe: 

Um They are probably five times as much as a general bottled water. 

Joe: 

Is the bottle? 

Joe: 

Is the water better? 

Joe: 

I tend to believe so, but I am open that. 

Joe: 

That is a placebo effect based on the rationalization of my mind, Figuring out how it pays $5 for a bottle of water. 

Joe: 

But it works and they’re still in business. 

Joe: 

But I think you have to get that message so laser focused. 

Joe: 

And I think that’s so hard. 

Joe: 

I mean how long has it taken you really to get? 

Joe: 

Not that you didn’t know it but that you could articulate it to a customer where the in less than 15 seconds that says, well what you do, we can help you structure your own structured data. 

Joe: 

But I think you knew that in the beginning joe. 

Joe: 

I don’t think it was sexy enough. 

Joe: 

It’s constantly evolving. 

Joe: 

Um And it’s one of those things where um what what I or what we’ve learned is um we actually lead the customer or we lead the client into articulating the problem themselves. 

Joe: 

So rather than telling the customer that their data is a mess, we let the clients say my data is a mess and then we say we fix that problem. 

Joe: 

Well what’s your elevator pitch? 

Joe: 

Well the elevator pitch when the client doesn’t realize that the data is the masses. 

Joe: 

You’re sitting on a mountain, You’re sitting on billions of unstructured data that should be providing you with a competitive advantage to get more business and to work that business more effectively. 

Joe: 

So they are more profitable. 

Joe: 

We can help you structure that data. 

Joe: 

That’s the simple elevator pitch. 

Joe: 

Do you want to make more money because you’re sitting on amount of data that could help you make more money that you’re not capitalizing on as I was listening to you. 

Joe: 

If that got me this product yesterday and amazon delivery truck came and she ran into the office and hid the package was like, well why are you hiding the package? 

Joe: 

What was going on? 

Joe: 

Well, later in the day when I got off the phone, which he absolutely hates. 

Joe: 

But I spend like you probably hours of my time on the phone all doing good things. 

Joe: 

But sometimes it is annoying is so she hands this over to me and here’s what it is. 

Joe: 

If you’re if you’re listening on the podcast, I’ll tell you it’s called the final straw. 

Joe: 

That’s the final straw. 

Joe: 

And what it is is literally the final straw that you will ever own. 

Joe: 

That doesn’t pollute the ocean and is reusable. 

Joe: 

I don’t know about you, but they’ve had these new cardboard straws out there joe that uh watching you call it so that it’s paper and it’s recyclable but it makes it makes everything taste like crap. 

Joe: 

So here it is just unfold as a final straw. 

Joe: 

So here’s an example of a company that has figured out that there’s people that don’t want to pollute the oceans that don’t want to use plastic that don’t want to pollute their bodies with plastic. 

Joe: 

Which is effectively what’s happening when you’re drinking liquid or microwaving Kandilli or anything like that. 

Joe: 

Yeah. 

Joe: 

And has a little picture yeah, of a turtle on there that you can see through to the product and here you go. 

Joe: 

Now. 

Joe: 

There’s a million straws out there. 

Joe: 

Oh and by the way, how much do you think this thing costs? 

Joe: 

Yeah. 

Joe: 

Have us? 

Joe: 

Mhm. 

Brandon: 

9 99 1999. 

Brandon: 

How much do you think it cost to make? 

Brandon: 

Uh huh Fully landed. 

Brandon: 

About a buck 90 nine. 

Brandon: 

There you go. 

Brandon: 

A very simple message. 

Joe: 

Very simple product. 

Joe: 

I I think I think we make things to your point earlier as we were talking way more complicated than they need to be because we have all these ideas. 

Joe: 

But it’s really the simplest ideas that make the most money for the most part. 

Joe: 

I’m not saying that there’s, there’s certainly health care products and drugs that are super technical. 

Joe: 

But even the drug companies when you think about it, there’s nothing magical about, I mean Covid’s overused, but hey, we have a shot that will keep you from getting Covid. 

Joe: 

I really need to know about all the biology. 

Joe: 

Oh and it won’t kill you and hopefully it doesn’t have any side effects in 20 years. 

Joe: 

Doesn’t grow a second. 

Joe: 

I or I mean third eye or whatever it is. 

Joe: 

But I mean even even complicated problems to solve in the background have simple messages and I think the message is, is that you, as an entrepreneur have to really go around and around and around and around to get there. 

Joe: 

I was doing a, a webinar or whatever class on building elevator pitch is. 

Joe: 

How long do you think it took you to get your elevator pitch right? 

Joe: 

Seven years. 

Joe: 

So what do you think about the idea of having to do other revenue streams to get to the final? 

Joe: 

I say final. 

Joe: 

I hope it’s the final for you problem to solve that you hope is going to come. 

Joe: 

So basically for people out there who are ahead of the market and, and you have to find other revenue streams otherwise you die because no one’s going to solve that, that or no one’s gonna buy your solution to a problem that they don’t understand yet or may not exist that you see coming. 

Joe: 

Oh, absolutely. 

Joe: 

I mean we, um, I just, I think back to how, how we got started. 

Brandon: 

Um, I had the good fortune to have, as you’ve mentioned to practice law for 15, 16, 17 years, whatever it was. 

Brandon: 

And so I had clients that I was able to go to um, with, with our, with our, with the beta version of our product who knew me and who trusted me to be able to do some things early on to generate some revenue. 

Brandon: 

And we did we did some things early on with our earlier product that I that I don’t do today and wouldn’t do today from a consulting perspective, um just kind of to generate revenue, you know, consulting revenue. 

Brandon: 

Um So, you know, today, you know, we obviously are focused laser focused on on driving, you know, monthly recurring subscription revenue, annual um subscription revenue as opposed to the consulting based revenue. 

Joe: 

So, you know, those are the types of things that um we were willing to do early on. 

Joe: 

Um So if if there are entrepreneurs who are trying to build a product that is that the market may not be ready for, but that the market will eventually be um be willing to buy then, then consulting revenue was obviously in an easy way to to be in the market to to use domain expertise to sort of test out what the market’s gonna use to uh, test out what the market is ultimately going to buy and to use that time to refine the product to what the market really wants and to drive revenues into the business so that you don’t draw so that you don’t die on the vine. 

Joe: 

You know, those revenues may maybe sustaining revenues for a new business like they were for us to help with, you know, sort of getting over that, getting over the chasm, um, particularly in markets that have a long sales cycle like ours does. 

Joe: 

Um, so, you know, I’ve heard people say, you know, you know, when you’re an entrepreneur, you beg borrow and steal, I think he also can be creative in terms of, of, of using the domain expertise that you have to, um, to drive consulting revenue. 

Joe: 

I would I would never for instance, while trying to be an entrepreneur practice law at the same time that I was trying to build a business because I think that’s distracting. 

Joe: 

But I would sort of be in sort of the legal spend consulting space at the same time that I was trying to build a legal spend data analytics tool because it aligns better with where the business is going. 

Joe: 

So I I would be an advocate to doing that, but I do remember our conversations. 

Joe: 

It’s very difficult and distracting. 

Joe: 

Yeah, sure. 

Joe: 

Um but for for a non technical founder, which is what I am, it’s not like it was taking time away from building a product. 

Joe: 

I mean you’re a software guy. 

Joe: 

I mean you were, you know, sleeves rolled up elbows deep and and developing the code. 

Joe: 

Not so with me. 

Brandon: 

I mean I I don’t do any coding or development work. 

Joe: 

I mean help with sort of the architecture of the software, but that’s about it. 

Joe: 

So it wasn’t like it was a distraction for me two or an impediment to getting the technology mm done any faster. 

Joe: 

I think that’s a testament to having the right partner. 

Joe: 

I think we’re we God off track. 

Joe: 

Would Zeus was that I believed that we needed so all the points I made earlier didn’t want to raise money and we then took on service contracts to build software and I think I didn’t have a plan necessarily how to get back on track or or that business becomes so encumbering of the team to do that thing to do revenue. 

Joe: 

And maybe yours was a better for people out there listening. 

Joe: 

Maybe a better thing is that if you can get consulting a consulting gig that is in the space that doesn’t encumber your team from building the other product. 

Joe: 

And I think that’s why I dual task the team and I think that was a mistake. 

Joe: 

Um I know it was a mistake looking back but also going back to our main point of why we recorded this episode. 

Joe: 

It’s vitally important that you have a very simple problem that you’re solving so that you can use that message to communicate to team members that you’re going to recruit. 

Brandon: 

Because we’ve talked about customers but what but what we didn’t talk about it as I was reflecting on the team and you’re talking about your team and and how it didn’t affect them necessarily. 

Brandon: 

You can’t recruit people to come to your company unless you can articulate the problem that you’re solving end, that they can somehow relate that that will make money. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, absolutely. 

Brandon: 

So so as as I was kind of thinking about it, I think I alluded to it at the beginning. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, there’s two components to that and and the first component is sort of the recruitment of people to the company from a sales and marketing perspective, it’s being able to articulate the value proposition because and I can’t remember who said it, but someone said if you can’t articulate the problem or the answer simply you don’t understand well enough yourself. 

Brandon: 

It was some brilliant person who said that. 

Brandon: 

Um but it’s true. 

Brandon: 

So if you can’t tell your team simply what you do, then you don’t understand well enough what you do and you have to be able to convey it to them simply so that they could go out and market sell evangelized to the market at large, whether they do it from a sales perspective or from a marketing perspective. 

Brandon: 

The other piece is the technological piece which you are just talking about, which is if you’ve got a vision for an extraordinarily complicated product or you’re trying to design a complicated product and I never appreciated this when we first got into it. 

Joe: 

But to design something that scale technologically so that it meets all of the the A. 

Joe: 

P. 

Joe: 

I. 

Joe: 

Scaling requirements so that it meets all of the security requirements so that it meets um you know, all of the user interface requirements. 

Joe: 

If it’s a complicated product, develop, that product is extraordinarily time consuming and it’s an extraordinarily from a technological perspective. 

Joe: 

Hard to develop and time consuming and expensive and complicated to develop. 

Joe: 

If on the other hand, you do have a vision for a simple product where you don’t have to again peel back multiple layers of the onion, right? 

Joe: 

And you and you have the vision for a fairly simple product. 

Joe: 

And I’m not suggesting that a credit score as a simple product, but you know, you were talking about the Zeus network of being able to track multiple communications and so forth between multiple device. 

Joe: 

I mean that is a complicated product and to develop with all of the interrelated algorithms into security levels. 

Joe: 

And I mean cooking for a chef here in a way that over top of my skis. 

Joe: 

But if it were a simple product, the development cycle would be cut by years. 

Joe: 

And and so there’s there’s a benefit in terms of developing simple products, it’s not just easier to sell to the market, it’s not just easier to convey the value proposition to the team, it’s not just easier to find the product market fit. 

Joe: 

From a development perspective, it’s easier to develop, it’s less time consuming, it’s less expensive. 

Brandon: 

So, you know, the the notion of, you know, kind of keeping it simple, there’s just that, as you mentioned earlier, that there’s a cascading effect that ripples down through so many different layers of a business that, you know, when when you start a business, like you want to create like this ultra cool world changing technology that maybe people will want, that maybe will change the world, that maybe people will buy, maybe they won’t. 

Brandon: 

But all of these rippling effects really have a an effect on the likelihood of success that your business is going to have. 

Brandon: 

Not just from a from a from a customer facing perspective, but from an internal perspective that people just don’t think about when they’re starting off, I think that’s a great summary and we should probably end on it. 

Brandon: 

But I do want to throw one more thing out for a future podcast episode with you is I’ve found, mm Yeah. 

Brandon: 

In a few decades of doing this, maybe two that what we are advising people are giving advice to make really simple, which you should replay what joe just said again. 

Brandon: 

Because it’s really important to get an understanding of that and get your company to a place where you can do that in order to do that. 

Brandon: 

You also have to work on yourself. 

Brandon: 

And what I mean by that is a lot of the inability that blocks us isn’t the market and it’s not the data, it’s our human insecurities that we have inside of us and that becomes a blocking function because we believe we’re going to fail. 

Brandon: 

We believe that that has implications in society or to our friends or to whoever it is and that becomes it impedes progress. 

Brandon: 

Is that silence consent? 

Brandon: 

Silence is consent, silex, acknowledgement of your accuracy. 

Brandon: 

How’s that? 

Brandon: 

Yeah, well, thanks for coming on today, man, this was And for all of you listening out there again, replay what joe just said about a minute and a half ago because it’s really important and they can dramatically improve your business. 

Brandon: 

Thanks again, man, you bet anytime. 

Brandon: 

Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of build a business success secrets. 

Brandon: 

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Brandon: 

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Brandon: 

And until the next episode, remember you are just one business plan away, I’m rooting for your success. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, good job. 

Brandon: 

I thought that went well, always fun. 

Brandon: 

And you didn’t even hang up on me today right away, like you normally do. 

Joe: 

Thank you. 

Joe: 

It’s never too late for that. 

Joe: 

I mean, really? 

Joe: 

How’s the rest of the what you call it, your stuff going? 

Joe: 

Is it happening? 

Joe: 

Everything’s, mm. 

Joe: 

Yeah

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