Hey folks, it’s Newsletter Pro CEO Shaun Buck here. 2021 is my company’s 10-year anniversary. I’d be lying if I told you I knew how things were going to turn out when I created my business plan. I knew Newsletter Pro was a good idea. I knew it would do well as a business and could get to a few million in annual revenue. What I couldn’t have predicted, though, is just how far we’ve come! We’ve touched so many lives, and both the business and I have changed. I also couldn’t have predicted the business lessons I’ve learned along the way.
This month, I want to share some of that knowledge with you in the form of 10 lessons: one for each of Newsletter Pro’s 10 years! I’ve read that 20% of businesses fail within the first two years, and 65% die within a decade. By applying these lessons to your own business, you can save your company from that fate.
These lessons aren’t in any particular order, so don’t read into the number next to them.
1: Stop Solving Problems That Haven’t Happened Yet.
Of this list of lessons, this one seems simple. But you’d be surprised by how many people find a solution to one problem, then focus on new hypothetical problems it might create. Instead of implementing the solution to the existing problem, they try to solve future problems that don’t exist yet. Don’t fall into this trap!
2: Collect As Much Contact Information As Possible.
We saw this in 2020 especially. You need to have multiple ways of contacting customers and prospects — plain and simple. If all you’re collecting is their name and email address, you’re taking on a massive risk in your business. At a minimum, you need to collect their name, email, mailing address, phone number, and cellphone number. This information will be valuable later when you need to reach out to and stay in touch.
3: Existing Customers Are More Important Than New Customers.
Once someone has proven they will spend money with you, focus on giving them an amazing experience and building that relationship. Most entrepreneurs forget about their existing customers, which kills profits (and is expensive and dumb). Existing customers are the key to making your business goals a reality. Well, they can be, if you treat them right.
4: Nurture Leads And Prospective Customers.
All these lessons are important but take note here. We’ve all heard that salespeople average 1 or 2 follow-up attempts on leads before they give up. This is awful! Most entrepreneurs lack systems to nurture leads, save for a handful of emails or self-serving promotional pieces. This bad practice costs entrepreneurs more money than you might imagine. At a minimum, you have to follow up with prospects by educating, entertaining, building relationships, and making offers. If you’re not willing to do that, you will always struggle.
5: Get In Front Of Customers And Prospects With The Right Media.
You need to have a way to get in front of all your customers and prospects with near 100% deliverability. That means investing in print marketing. Generally, only 15% of your customers are reading your emails and only 1% see your social media and other online posts. That means you’re leaving a massive amount of money on the table. You have to be in front of both prospects and customers at least once per month. The only media that can virtually guarantee you can do that is printed mail. (No, print is NOT dead. Click here to watch me bust that myth.) Near 100% deliverability is one of the reasons well-done newsletters work so well. I learned this in my past business ventures, then built Newsletter Pro to teach it to others.
6: Business Has 4 Masters, And They All Need To Win.
One of the lessons I learned is that every business has four masters: 1. Employees, 2. Customers, 3. The Business, and 4. Shareholders. When making a decision, you need to ask yourself if it’s good for all 4 masters. From time to time, the right decision won’t appease them all, and that’s OK. But if one person is always taking the short end of the stick in a relationship, that relationship will soon end. Try to make sure all 4 masters are happy most of the time.
7: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin.
Too many people try to do too many things, and they spread themselves and their businesses too thin. Sometimes that easy money will be more expensive in the long run because it distracts you from the goal. Just because someone wants to pay you for it doesn’t mean you should sell it to them.
8: You Have To Build Your Business’s Foundation Before You Start To Build The Rest Of The House.
Make sure you’ve mastered and are maintaining the basics before you jump to the next shiny object or pick out the blinds. If you build a crap foundation, you’ll have a crap business. In short, business is won by being really good at the boring stuff.
9: You Are The Bottleneck In Your Business.
Of these lessons, this one is particularly personal to me. Take time at least once a year to remove responsibilities from your plate. Start with areas where you’re bottlenecking a system, process, or growth. The more you do this, the bigger, better, and faster your company can grow. The fastest way to remove yourself is by delegating to existing employees or outsourcing to a company or contractor. All you need to do is have clear metrics or a measurable action plan.
10: You Need To Have Clear Goals That Become Well-Researched Plans, Which Become Small, Actionable Steps.
Personally, I want my annual goals to be broad but measurable. I also want quarterly action plans that allow me to be nimble and adjust as crazy things happen. Think pandemic or the coming zombie apocalypse.
Bonus Lesson: Use Your Business To Give Back.
Newsletter Pro supports dozens of children who have been rescued from sex trafficking in Asia or simply need food, health care, education, and clothing. We also provide Christmas to hundreds of foster care kids and kids from the Boise Police Department’s Special Victims Unit through my nonprofit, Fostering Christmas. I’ve never regretted giving back even when times were lean, and neither will you.
There you have it, folks! The top lessons from a successful CEO who still can’t believe his entrepreneurship journey worked out as well as it did. With these lessons in your back pocket, you’ll be able to grow your business just like I have. Here’s to many more years for both of us!