Our New GrowthHit Website is LIVE

Today, I’ll get right to the point.

Our new GrowthHit website (version 1) is LIVE and we want your opinion. (Seriously, just leave a comment with what you like and don’t like.  The more honest the better bc we’ll be iterating on this.)

Check it out HERE 👀.

Some highlights include the following: 

📈 Added case studies 
🛠️ A “conversational” services page 
☎️ An easier path for prospects to connect with us

For version two of the site, we’ll be rolling out a new blog, our company page and one special project that I cannot tell you 😶 about yet.  Get excited. 

Wait, so how easy or hard was it to do this little redesign?

Most website redesigns go over budget and over time significantly. I know this because I have missed the initial “new website launch date” many times.  Here is what we did well and not well.  Hopefully, it’ll help you with your next redesign. 

WHAT WE DID WELL:

👍 We removed features (and pages) to hit our launch deadline #noscopecreep 
👍 We had the designer make two completely outlines to pick from before we went really deep
👍 The designer did multiple check-ins to mitigate any “surprises”
👍 Set hard deadlines for each milestone

WHAT WE DIDN’T DO WELL:

👎 We didn’t nail down the copy on each page which impacted design more than I thought
👎 We went over budget by $1k because we had changes during development 
👎 We didn’t get to update every page we wanted bc of the above changes

Hope that helps!

As a bonus, here are five growth articles that caught my attention. 

  1. How To Rapidly Grow Your Instagram Following
  2. 24 Free Website Plugins for Marketing, Lead Generation & Growth!
  3. Social Commerce: How to Take Your Digital Sales to New Heights
  4. 7 E-Commerce Case Studies Every Marketer Can Learn From
  5. Here’s How to Incorporate Site Search into Your E-Commerce Store (The Right Way)

The Journey of a Bootstrapped Founder

For VC-backed startups, their path to success might look like the following:

💡 Develop an idea. 

💸Raise a seed round. 

💸💸💸Raise an A round, raise a B round, and raise a C round. 

🔥 Hire. Fire. Grow like hell and cross your fingers that your valuation climbs. 📈

🤑 Sell to a Fortune 500 company for $1 Billion.

🛥️ Cash-out. Buy a yacht, Tesla and one gold plated suit.

That’s one route you can go with financing your business.

But, what about the majority of people that aren’t raising venture dollars and looking for 10X exit?

What’s their option?  How do they grow?

They bootstrap it.  

What does that mean?  Bootstrapping is when you fund your startup or business with your own money or the cash you make from the business.

This is where I fit in.  I’m bootstrapping and I’m always looking for inspiration from other bootstrapped founders on how they self-funded an idea into a sustainable business.

Here are my favorite articles on how a few brave founders bootstrapped their business.  

  1. A Six-Figure Side Project: The ClickMinded Story (Tommy Griffith)
  2. Growing Growth Machine: How We Went from 0 to $100k MRR in One Year (Nat Eliason) 
  3. How Rob Walling Bootstrapped Drip into a 7 Figure SaaS Business
  4. Want To Sell Your Agency? Here’s How I Did It 💰
  5. 7 Ridiculously In-Depth Case Studies on Starting an Ecommerce Business from Scratch

Maybe one day I’ll publish my story of bootstrapping.  For now, I post annual updates. Here is a look at my 2018 annual update.

What’s Your Number?

The Hard Truth Every Founder or Startup Employee Needs to Know about Money

It’s about to get awkward.

Yup, we’re talking about money.

How much money do you make?  And does that income get you to “your number”?

From breaking even every month to F-you money, what are you really working towards?

Sadly, most people haven’t thought through this question.  Even though we spend most of our waking hours doing this thing called work.  We don’t have a plan for our income or for our number.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel natural to talk about money.

So, what is your financial goal?  What is your number?

Is it cash-flowing $2k a month with your side hustle or is it hitting $1.75 million in the bank?

Do you want just enough cheddar to pay the bills?

Or, are you looking for the exact amount of gold coins that enable you to tell your obligations “peace out” and then Scrooge McDuck into your pool of gold?

F-You Money Pioneer: Scrooge McDuck

It’s that number that should drive your financial goals as a founder, a side hustler or an employee.

As a bootstrapped founder, this was the talk I had with my wife before going all in.  My personal number sits between breakeven and Scrooge McDuck.

The Truth: It’s Not About Your Number. It’s About Your Lifestyle

Before we get into your options, let’s talk about that number.  How much money do you really want?

Actually, scratch that.  

It’s not about money.  It’s about your lifestyle.  What do you want to do and how much do you need to support that?  

Maybe you want to work forever at a big company.

Or, you want to retire early on an island in the Caribbean.

Maybe you want to spend half of your time working and the other half volunteering at the local YMCA teaching kids how to widdle wood.

For me, I want to own what I do and have the luxury of choosing what I do with my time – ideally traveling with family, working on passion projects and playing basketball against other washed up dudes still holding on to the dream.

Raindrop!

The real question for me is this:  How much do you need to support the lifestyle you want?  

Money doesn’t bring you happiness. It brings you options.  What are your expenses and how much extra cash do you need? To keep it simple, lets talk about lifestyle expenses in the following buckets:

  • Living Expenses
  • Family Expenses
  • Travel Expenses

My friend, also a bootstrapped business owner,  and I are good examples of two very different lifestyles from a cost perspective.  I live in a city that has the highest housing growth in the US. We don’t have any family close by so our childcare expenses aren’t insignificant. Plus, we’re a family that enjoys eating out, shopping (one of us may have a shoe problem) and we love traveling.  Those decisions (city, family, travel) have raised my monthly expenses compared to most people. Esh.

On the flip side, my friend lives in a small town in a house his family owns and is close to grandparents.  His family also likes to travel so they have that as an important line item. It’s smaller because they love road trips which are cheaper than flights.  Those decisions alone have put his lifestyle expenses much lower than mine. So his break even number is much lower.

Here is a simple breakdown of two scenarios

Obviously, these expenses don’t include things like any car payments, healthcare costs, entertainment, groceries, car payments, Parkour lessons, etc.  But, you see how certain lifestyle decisions have a huge impact on your number.

Based on your lifestyle expenses, that is the starting point for your break-even costs and then you can start to think about the original question.  What is your number?

Let’s break down your number into three options:

Option 1: Break-Even

With the exercise above, you can start to figure this exact number out.  Simply put, you’re making just enough money to pay for your monthly expenses but an unexpected surprise would rock your world.  A water pipe breaks in your new home, someone in the family is laid off or you find out you’re having triplets. #blessed

Option 2: I’m Feeling Comfortable

You’re kind of rolling in the dough.  You’re able to pick up the tab on group dinners without blinking an eye and you’re looking at options for a rental property.  You could take time off of work for a little bit and you’ll be okay. But, not too much time because the money will run out.

Option 3: F-You Money

You hit a big exit with your company or you’re cash flowing at a rate that far exceeds your expenses and it’s not slowing down. Teslas, yachts and a timeshare on Mars might not be that crazy.

Now that we know the options. Let’s talk about how we reach to those outcomes.  Let’s attempt to answer that specifically for people in the startup community.

What are your options for hitting your number?

Obviously, there are lots more than the three but I am laying out three scenarios for income.   

Scenario 1: The Employee with Golden Options

Scenario 2: The VC-Backed Founder with an Exit Plan

Scenario 3: The Bootstrapped Founders with Cash Flow Dreams

Now, let’s dive in and see the pros and cons of how these options get you to your number.

The Employee with Golden Options

Image Source: Adioma

You’re an employee at a high growth startup.  You have chosen to live off a startup salary with the hope that the value of your future stock options will lead to the land of milk and honey (or financial freedom).

Pros: Taking on less risk of a founder but still get to participate in the upside.

Cons: 90% of startups fail.  You get diluted during fundraises. Plus, a vesting schedule makes you work 4+ years for your options.

The VC-Backed Founder with an Exit Plan

Image Source: craft.co

You’re a founder that has raised sophisticated money from a venture capital firm and you’re looking to exit through a sale or IPO.  Your recent funding has extended your runway but it has diluted your shares and set your valuation to exit much higher.

Pros: You’re the majority shareholder and if you strike it big then it’s life-changing. You have extended your runaway with the influx of cash and can (finally) invest in quality developers, sophisticated software and the much-needed ping pong table.

Cons: Again, 90% of startups fail.  Also, your new board might fire you if you don’t deliver.

The Bootstrapped Founder with Cash Flow Dreams

You have an idea and decided to roll up your sleeves and fund it with your own money or with cash from the project.

Pros: You own 100% of your business so your exit number or cash-flow number is much more attainable than a VC-backed business.

Cons: Don’t stop making money.  If your cashflow goes away then your business goes away. Oh, and 90% of startups fail.

So, what path did I pick to hit my number?

My Final Answer

I have opted for option three.  For me, it’s not about the money.  It’s about the lifestyle and I’m playing the long game. I want to work on projects I am passionate about and I want the freedom to push them in whatever direction I please. I’ve been inspired by people like Rob Walling, Dan Andrews and, obviously, Tim Ferris. These guys have bootstrapped ideas into successful businesses built around their lifestyle.

So what’s your number? Or more importantly, what lifestyle do you want to support?

Are you on a current path to get there?

7 Successful Product Launches to Inspire Your 2019

Hey,

Are you launching a new product in 2019?

brand launch is a lot like getting up on stage as a stand-up comedian.

No matter how confident you are that people will love your material, you can never quite shake the fear that all you’ll hear is crickets when get on stage.

According to Five By Five Global, three-fifths of people weren’t aware of any new launches in the past 12 months, which doesn’t make for great reading if you launched something last year.

But that doesn’t mean what you’ve created is bad. It means that it hasn’t been marketed right.

To show you how to avoid the deafening silence of no one noticing your product, we’ve picked out seven of the most successful launches of recent years to inspire your launch efforts, along with some tips on how to implement the tactics.

Read the entire article here.

As usual, here are five articles that caught my attention this week.

(1) How To Grow Your Email List With Facebook (3 Steps)
(2) The Definitive Guide to Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce Stores
(3) Landing Page Versus Home Page: 18 Money Making Differences
(4) How to Successfully Launch a Product in 2019
(5) How to Track Social ROI for a Local Business

Cheers,

Jim

ROWTH PACKAGE Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

GROWTH PACKAGE
Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

This was originally sent from Jim Huffman’s email newsletter.  Sign up to get weekly insights in your inbox.

How to Make a Growth Plan for a B2B Company (See Case Study)

Hey all,

I work with lots of B2C companies and you can see how we growth them here.

But, how do you make a growth plan for a B2B company?

How do you keep your marketing team focused and on track with a clear plan of action?

Sadly, most people don’t know how to make a growth plan.

Worse, they end up going to google and typing “growth plan” or “marketing plan” and it takes them to a black hole of outdated templates and tactics.  

To help, I’m going to go deep on how to make a growth plan for one lucky company, ConvertKit. I am a fan of this company and it’s founder, Nathan Barry. Hopefully he sees this as a compliment to his tool.

The growth plan will go into detail on everything from value proposition and analytics to how to setup a landing page and what growth experiments to run.

Here is how we’re going to categorize the growth plan.

1) Identify Customers
2) Competitor Research
3) Proposition Mapping
4) SEO & Content Strategy
5) Analytics Infrastructure
6) CRO & List Building
7) Paid Campaigns
8) Growth Experiments
9) Growth Projections

Check out the entire blog post here.

Cheers!

Jim Huffman

ROWTH PACKAGE Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

GROWTH PACKAGE
Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

This was originally sent from Jim Huffman’s email newsletter.  Sign up to get weekly insights in your inbox.

Two Webinars to Watch: The Rewrite Summit & Metrics for Ecommerce Companies

Hey,

I want to mention two webinars I’m in that might be helpful for you.  One is with an impressive founder and another is about metrics that matter for ecommerce startups.

I’ll get to those in a second.

Quick Side Note . . .  

I’m very bullish on webinars for B2B companies (including GrowthHit, our growth consultancy) because webinars are a powerful way to engage potential customers while building trust. Live video + free educational content = a good first impression. 

So there you have it – some insight into our growth strategy at GrowthHit.  More webinars to come in 2019. 

. . . Alright, Side Note Complete.

Lets get to the webinars.

First, I was able to chat with Chrystien Guyton of The Rewrite Summit to talk about my path to starting GrowthHit.  She’s hosting a 7 day virtual summit where she’s interviewing  founders about how they changed their career paths and started their own thing.  Our interview goes live next week and you can join here.

Second, I’m doing an online session with Gorgias called 8 Metrics to Measure as Head of Ecommerce.  We’ll get tactical on how Shopify store owners can grow sales by being data driven.  It launches on Feb 11th at 1pm PST so RSVP here and set you alarms people.

As usual, here are five articles that caught my attention this week.

(1) 3 Ecommerce Pricing Strategies That Make You More Profit Per Sale
(2) Buying Instagram Likes is Hurting Your Brand. Here’s Why (Experiment Included)
(3) The State of Social in 2019 by Buffer
(4) SEO Best Practices For B2B Brands Trying To Rank In 2019
(5) How To Launch A Product or Feature To Maximize Growth

Cheers,

Jim

ROWTH PACKAGE Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

GROWTH PACKAGE
Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

This was originally sent from Jim Huffman’s email newsletter.  Sign up to get weekly insights in your inbox.

A Look Back at 2018

Before I jump into 2019 trends, I want to hit on my 2018. 

Here is a review of my 2018.

I’ve included some wins, losses, revenue numbers and one baby photo.

  • Book launch. Launched the book and got to #1 on Amazon in marketing (even if for only four days)
  • Sales Goals. My goal was $10,000 in book sales before 2019. We’re at $9,024 so just shy of it.  Hope to hit that in January 2019. 
Jim Huffman Book Sales
Sales from Book website. Does not include sales from Amazon, Apple or Audible.
  • Hiring. GrowthHit hired 4 new talented individuals.  Working with smart people to help scale our clients has been more time consuming and rewarding than I thought.
  • Growth Goals. Fell short of our aggressive revenue goal for Growthhit by 20%.  I am pushing this goal out to April 2019.  We’re two clients away from hitting this.
  • Product Problems: We’ve been working on a SaaS product that we wanted to launch in October but it’s still delayed.  After having to let go of a development agency we’re learning the hard way how to design and launch tech products. But, we are learning! 
  • Travel: I was able to travel 44 nights this past year to places like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas, and Yakima to do talks on Growth Marketing. It’s a blast to meet people but I am trying to limit my travel.
  • Got Back into Basketball.  I love hoops and it was my life for a long time.  After 5 years away, I am finally playing again  It’s a fun break from my crazy weeks but it’s resulted in me spending too much time sneaker shopping.
  • Stop Being Cheap and Give. Maybe it’s bc I didn’t come from money but I am pretty frugal.  I am trying to be more generous with money to coworkers, charities and I’m working on something I am calling “Operation Big Tipper.” It’s inspired by Ben Hebert’s tweet but my wife and I want to leave big tips once a week to someone that needs money more than us. 
  • Family First. My daughter turned one, learned to walk and rocked it as Elton John for Halloween. Love my family so much. Everything else is secondary. 

2018 was a year of finally launching a book I had been working on for a long time. It’s always risky putting yourself out there but I am glad I did it. More to come in 2019.

What Happened When I Tracked Every Second of My Day for One Month

You know the feeling.  

You look at the clock – It’s 6pm – and you have nothing to show for the day.

It’s not because you weren’t working hard.  

You responded to emails. You put out that big fire. You crushed conference calls.  

But, your to do list is collecting dust. #Fail

Fail by #GIF

As a founder, this doesn’t just hurt my ego – it hurts my business.  That’s why I decided to track every second of my day to see where my time was really going.

To help me understand how I’m allocating my time, I used a time tracking tool called Toggl.  I broke up my time into the following categories. Email, Client Calls, Strategy & Planning, Reporting, Writing, Executing on Growth Strategy, Team Mgmt, and Breaks.  These section were broken down by client, prospects and items for our own consultancy.

At first, it was a annoying to remember to toggle my Toggl tracker (great branding) but after a few days I loved it.  By using this tool, it made me that much more aware of where I was putting my time.

After one week of doing this, three stats caught my attention:

  • 45 minutes per day wasted because of switching cost
  • 2+ hours per day in email
  • 10% of my week dedicated to the strategic items that’ll have the biggest impact on my company

This was eye opening and alarming. Here is how I am fixing my time management mishaps.

Too Much Time in Email

Yes, I know I’m on email a lot but it was staggering how much time that meant.  I found that I couldn’t go more than 20 minutes per day without “glancing” at my inbox.  That’s 24 times per day of stopping what I’m doing to make sure people didn’t need me. Translation: I’m an email addict.

MY FIX: Limit the times per day I can check email.  I still watch for the notifications but I was much more deliberate of when I went to my inbox.

Focused on My Strengths and Not Impact

After looking at my hours, I saw that when I got busy or overwhelmed I would default to the things I am good at like reporting, analytics and Facebook ad optimization.  It wasn’t bc they were more important. Nope. It’s because I know I can do those items the fastest. But, these things would trump the high impact items.

MY FIX: Start with the important things and dedicate at least an hour to that item before going to my strengths.   

There is a Switching Cost

Slack messages, emails and phone calls.  These are distractions that can derail your day quickly.  They aren’t urgent but they’re in my face so they always shot up my priority list.  

MY FIX: When possible, go deep on tasks and avoid multitasking. Instead of dropping everything for these Items I would let them sit until I actually finished that thing I was working on.  When possible, block off hours in my afternoon for deep work and or to work with individual members of my growth team.

How You Start Your Day Impacts Everything

The days that ended with that “I just punched the day in the mouth feeling” usually began with mornings that involved me dedicating as little as 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to those big impact items.  By doing that, I set the tone for the rest of the day. As opposed to the days where the first 4 hours involved me being reactive to emails and not being in control of my time.  

MY FIX: Wake up 30 minutes early and dedicate that time to the big impact.  I wish I could do 1-2 hours but I have a 19 month old kid so that would mean getting up at 4:30am and that ain’t happening.  

Create Time Goals

We all have goals around sales, demos, sign ups, traffic, etc. but we don’t talk much about time goals.  For example, are you spending 20% of your time per week on the big impact projects? Whether that’s writing a book or building your entire growth strategy, make sure the high impact items get the necessary time .

MY FIX: Do time tracking check-ins mid-week to make sure you’re allocating your time accordingly.

Oh, and Don’t Forget Your Smartphone

Scary fact: you look at your phone 74 times per day.  That shows that unimportant push notifications are getting the best of me.

MY FIX: Use the screen time feature (image above) on your iphone and set time limits on certain apps.  I only allow 20 minutes of social media time per day. It’s scary how fast that time flies.

Summary

You might be better than me at time management or you may let email and slack message drive your entire to do list.  Regardless, try out this exercise for a few days and you’ll learn something about how you allocate your most precious asset: time.

COMING SOON: The Growth Marketer’s Playbook

Growth Marketers PlaybookFor the past 18 months, I’ve been writing a book that outlines everything I know about growth marketing.  My goal is create an actionable resource that you can actually apply to your job or your startup.

From mentoring Techstars startups to teaching marketing workshops for Fortune 500 brands, I’ve uncovered some common principals and themes that you can use to grow your business the right way.

As of today, The Growth Marketer’s Playbook is packed with 30,201 words, 10 chapters, 35+ case studies, 5 frameworks and lots of spelling errors. (I’m about to have it edited, I promise.)  Sign up below to get early access to the book.

 

Here is a look at the Table of Contents for the book:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1: Why Growth Marketing Matters
Chapter 2: The Real Reason Startups Fail
Chapter 3: Growth Marketing 101
Chapter 4: How to Know You’re Ready for Growth?
Chapter 5: PLAYBOOK: How to Uncover Your Growth Opportunities
Chapter 6: PLAYBOOK: How to Setup Your Marketing Infrastructure
Chapter 7: PLAYBOOK: How to Run & Manage Growth
Chapter 8: PLAYBOOK: How to Acquire, Convert & Scale
Chapter 9: RESOURCES: What’s the Right Marketing Tech Stack for You
Chapter 10: SELF-HELP: Shut Up and Grow

How to Up Your Marketing Game in 2018 

One of my goals in 2018 is to focus on learning new marketing skills.

That means dedicating time to online classes, podcasts, books or YouTube videos to get better at certain verticals.  For me, I am particularly interested in technical marketing, conversion through customer based marketing and writing marketing copy from with a foundation in behavioral economics.

Oh, and I want to get better at making waffles but that’s for another post.

via GIPHY

Here are some of the marketing courses to take in 2018 and the ones I would recommend for anyone looking to up their marketing game.  Some are free and some are not.  I have listed them by area of interest.

STARTUPS
How to Start a Startup Series by Stanford and Y Combinator

TECHNICHAL MARKETING
How to Become a Technical Marketer

ANALYTICS
The Lean Analytics Workshop

SEO
Learn SEO from the Head of SEO at Airbnb

HUBSPOT
The Mastering HubSpot Course by Rob Sobers

ADWORDS
An advanced AdWords course to grow your business

EMAIL
How to Make Six Figures with Email Marketing 

CONTENT MARKETING
Learn Content Marketing Strategy to create and grow an audience

CONVERSION FUNNELS
The Ultimate Playbook for Conversion Funnels (Spoiler, I made this course.)

GROWTH MARKETING
A Half-Day Workshop (with Yours Truly) on How to Run Growth

Cheers!

Jim