7 Mistakes on the Way to $70k MRR Part 2

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As painful as mistakes are, they’re unavoidable on the path to success.

Codeless founder Brad Smith will be the first to admit that he has made his fair share.

In fact, he’s made so many that we had to split this episode into two parts. While many hide their mistakes and sweep them under the rug, we think there’s a benefit to sharing shortcomings.

So here he is. Back to discuss three more mistakes that taught him valuable lessons for developing his business.

In this episode of Codeless Radio Brad and Daniel discuss:

  1. Overestimating new people
  2. Not getting out of the day-to-day ASAP
  3. Firing too slowly

You’ll Learn

  • How underestimating new hires can save time and create realistic expectations
  • Why it is crucial for founders to hand off tasks to a supportive team
  • Why Brad fires clients and how that has propelled growth for his firm

Resources Mentioned

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Daniel: (00:00)

Welcome back to Codeless radio. My name is Daniel Midson-Short and it is my pleasure once again to have the founder of Codeless, Mr. Brad Smith with is Hello Brad.

Brad: (00:09)

Hello. I just had this urge to do like a funny accent, but then I didn’t want people thinking that like you were also doing a funny accent.

Daniel: (00:20)

It’s weird because a lot of people will just try and do like a quasi Irish Jackson, and I’m like, I’m from Australia. Then they’re embarrassed, but they’re also worried they’ve offended me. It’s great.

Brad: (00:37)

Are they like, so what part of London are you from exactly?

Daniel: (00:39)

Oh, Australia. No. Cool.

Brad: (00:42)

Is that the sunny part?

Daniel: (00:42)

Yeah, exactly. The sunny part of England. So today we’re going to continue what we talked about last time, which is based on an article that you wrote called Seven Agency Mistakes on the Way to 70K MRR or monthly recurring revenue. And last time we covered some really great points, just counter-intuitive things that you don’t really know until you’ve been in the business awhile. And we’ve got three more of them to go over today. So I want to cover those and get your wisdom once again. So last time we were talking a little bit about, not being too slow, making sure that you’re not compromising quality and also being aware that things cost a lot more in the beginning then you realize. So there are some really good points there, but now we want to talk more about the people side of things when you’re hiring and you’re growing your team. So the next mistake that you mentioned was the idea of overestimating new people, which I thought was a really cool way to frame it. So tell us about that.

Brad: (01:39)

Yes, I’ll try not to make this sound awful, but basically I think it’s natural for most smart people or most people that get really good at something, it’s the curse of knowledge. They underestimate how good they are at it and how fast they can complete something, for example. And when you’re bringing in new people. So again, I read this article a couple of years ago based on some experiences I had when we grew really fast in like the first year, one of the things I didn’t realize was how much slower and longer it would take new people to get up to speed. And that was also an issue because as we talked in the last episode if you’re budgeting for like 30 days but it’s going to take them 60 days, that’s a huge hole that you somehow need to fill. And so what I did to scale the service and scale company initially was take the stuff that I did and say, okay, it takes me maybe four hours to write a long-form article now and I’m going to tack on and say maybe it takes someone who’s inexperienced five or six hours, but in reality, it takes them closer to like eight or 10 and the issue isn’t writing speed.

Brad: (02:55)

Someone doesn’t write slowly because they’re a bad writer. They write slowly because they don’t know what they’re talking about. Again, I didn’t figure this out until I went through it the hard way and kept running into the same brick wall over and over and over again. Is that most, it takes most people a lot longer to understand how to put things together, how to research, where to get the information, how to do all this stuff so they have to move slower initially in order to speed up later down the line and get closer to that four-hour mark that you were originally setting. And so again, it goes back to everything. It goes back to budgets. It goes back to when you hire, it goes back to how long a project takes to go to the finish line.

Brad: (03:39)

Managing client expectations, managing boss expectations. Just a lot of things end up taking longer and are harder and more difficult than you initially think. And that only gets worse the better you are at something. So if you’re a super-smart at whatever, you’re gonna take a lot of short cuts, even if you don’t realize it. And I’ll give you another example. We worked with a client one time and it didn’t go very well and one of the problems was because the people we were working with were very knowledgeable, but they didn’t have any formal structure in place to scale this and their brains. And there was no feedback loop. So they were, editing content themselves and then putting it live without telling us what they’re editing or why they’re editing it. And so our team just kept doing what they were doing originally and come to find out two months into the project that they’re not happy and we’re like, well why not?

Brad: (04:34)

We haven’t seen any feedback or edits come back like we assumed you guys were happy. There was no feedback loop. There was no style guide that we all agreed on. Like this is how it should go, this is what and they were just like, Oh well shouldn’t good writers just like be able to jump in and be able to do it. And I was like, no not just good writers. Good anything good marketers, good mechanics. Like you can’t just expect people to jump in without knowing your systems, how you think, the way you think and expect them to hit the ground running. There’s always, always, always going to be an orientation period and it’s probably going to take longer than you initially guess. Even if you tack on an extra 10% it’s probably going to be an extra 30% that you should have tacked on.

Daniel: (05:18)

100% and I love what you said too in the article, the idea that the most experienced people are usually the worst offenders. So if you’re hiring experienced people watch out. And so would you elaborate on that?

Brad: (05:29)

Yeah, for sure. So I’ll speak specifically about writers. A lot of times we hire young ish writers. That’s not because they’re young, it’s because they’re moldable and have better attitudes. It’s not that we don’t try to hire older writers, we do. It’s that they’re often more set in their ways and often less likely to change their worldview and be open to new experiences. And they want to just do it the way they’re used to doing it and what’s worked for them for the past 20 years. But they’re not willing to embrace the new stuff that’s going to help them grow and become better over the next 20 years. And this again, that’s just about writing, but it happens with marketers. It’s, like depending on the company that you’re in, early-stage companies, there’s always the saying like in VC circles, early-stage companies shouldn’t hire the VP of sales from Salesforce.

Brad: (06:36)

Because that dude in this massive company is going to have no idea how to operate on the same level as this tiny team who’s hustling and getting shit done, has no budget for anything. Like they’re just two totally different worlds. And that’s a little different for a number of reasons, but the more experienced someone is, the less likely they are to either change or adapt or evolve. And the harder this problem becomes of trying to get people to do something a certain way. Again, whether we’re talking about marketing, whether we’re talking about anything, it just becomes a lot more difficult. And you think it’s the opposite, you think you’re hiring someone with experience, they’re gonna be able to jump in and hit the ground running. And again, that’s, in my experience anyway, that’s pretty much never the case.

Daniel: (07:22)

Yeah. You know, what I’m thinking of is, you know, they have those charity things, like we are the world and like those kinds of things where they have all these like huge celebrities all sing together, and the song is just always really awful because there are too many talented people in one group, you know? And so it just washes out. It’s almost like that problem, right. Where everyone’s too good and they’re not willing to listen and adapt. And so there’s the danger.

Brad: (07:49)

Yeah. It’s like someone who’s really good at singles, tennis but isn’t good at doubles. I have zero musical ability, but I’m a big Frank Sinatra fan and one thing he’s really good at, he’s obviously very good at being like the dominant lead voice, but he can also do it well with other people. And that’s not always the case. A lot of times you don’t always see those things being complimentary.

Daniel: (08:20)

Hmm. Yeah. Very, very true. So that’s a very counterintuitive way to look at it. But basically we tend to overestimate new people in the company and they probably overestimate themselves because they want to make a good impression and so they’re really trying to do a good job. But I think you had said, you know, plan on it being 50% of the volume of work that they promise and usually taking two to three times longer.

Brad: (08:44)

Yeah. So we had this problem all the time. We, we’d be growing fast, so be hiring fast. And we’d say, okay you’ve written on these topics before you look like you’re an expert. You’ look like you know what you’re talking about. How many articles can you do a week? And they tell you five. You’re like, awesome. We’re gonna load you up for five a week starting tomorrow. And then all of a sudden they’re delivering like barely delivering two or three a week, and you have deadline delays. And then you’ve got to go back to your client and tell them you’re like struggling to get stuff back. And what you realize is it just takes, especially the way we do things, it’s very specific and just takes people awhile. It’s not that they’re bad writers, it just takes a while to learn it.

Brad: (09:20)

And so what we automatically do now is we put them through a training program first before we even give them the first writing assignment. And if they don’t complete that, then they don’t get the writing assignment. And it’s one of those like hard lines that we draw where it’s like if someone’s unwilling to go through this process and learn, they’re never gonna follow your outline process. They’re never going to follow your due date schedules and other stuff. And then when they do go through that, we give them like maybe one piece a week, one to two pieces a week at the most. And that’s because we don’t want to be in terms of our ongoing work with clients, we don’t want to be completely reliant on these new people, these new cogs in the machine who aren’t yet ready to produce.

Daniel: (10:02)

Yeah, that’s very wise. But yeah, and only learned through painful experience I’m sure.

Brad: (10:09)

Exactly, it’s only like it’s wise because it’s true. Because we lived it firsthand hundreds of times, no joke. Like we had clients mad at us all the time because we were constantly delayed on stuff because we were just taking these people at face value and you have to draw it all back to the root cause at the end of the day and learn from those mistakes. And that’s just part of this process is you can’t scale. This whole thing started with me doing maybe five articles a week and now we do over 250 articles a month. And the only way you get to that point, and by hitting these little roadblocks and then figuring a way around them or through them and you get to 50 and then your systems don’t work, then you get to 75 and your systems don’t work and you get to 150. So it’s just, you’re just constantly like having to work through these problems and you just have to kind of accept that they’re going to be recurring problems and figure out a way to mitigate that. Incredible.

Daniel: (11:06)

Yeah, it’s amazing to hear that sort of psychology. It’s a reverse of the kind of generic sort of management and speaking out there about, you know, believe in your people and encourage them. It’s like, you know, you have to under expect or I don’t even know what the word is, be underwhelmed by them early on.

Brad: (11:33)

In time, when they prove themselves, you should 100% do those things. In the beginning, you should not because it’s going to screw your projections up. It’s gonna screw everything up. And even when we start with new clients, I tell them to expect problems and issues. We expect problems and issues and understanding your style, your tone, what you like, what you don’t like. Right now we have our default process we’re going to go with. That might not be right for you and that’s okay. We’re going to build in these things in the process to make sure that you are taken care of either way and that we get through it, but you can’t expect the first article you see to be like amazing to be exactly what you want and so we treat our team that way, but then we also have that conversation and set that expectation with clients where it’s the same thing where it’s like we’re really good at what we do and we do a ton of it, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to nail it 10 out of 10 the first time we work on it with you. It’s going to take a little bit of time to work through those kinks. And so we’re all up to speed and going in the same direction.

Daniel: (12:37)

That can help solve the problem. Preempts it. That’s great. They would value that. That’s very wise. And I might just mix this around a little bit cause point number seven is actually about firing too slowly. So I think that links well to this idea of, you know, hanging on to people who are trying to train them when you really should just let them go.

Brad: (12:53)

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s in, I think it’s in human nature that we want to help other people and we want to, we want to give other people the benefit of doubt. And in general, you do. And you should, if you’re driving, you should believe that the people next to you aren’t gonna drive into your lane or looking at their phone. And sometimes it happens and it’s unfortunate, but in most cases you’re fine. In most cases, you get to your destination and no big issue. That overly optimistic attitude doesn’t help you when you’re trying to grow something really fast. Because the odds are that you’re going to fail or that you’re going to, if you don’t fail, you’re going to screw a ton of things up before you barely make it crawling across the finish line. So it’s not like when you’re growing something really fast or when you’re doing something really ambitious. If you’re going from zero, and we’ve done this with clients, we’ve grown from zero to a hundred articles a month with one client and they’re not used to that process and we’re all trying to build it from scratch and bring everything together.

Brad: (14:01)

It’s not going to be like the dude running the marathon and breaking two hours. It’s going to be like the dude running the marathon and crawling across the finish line and it’s going to be ugly and you just have to know that that’s part of the process. And so we purposely do things now to, tip ourselves off. So if someone’s not going to be a good fit long term and the whole reason we do that is so we can disqualify people as quickly as possible. And so examples of that, in our initial application for writers, we’ve probably, I think we’ve had over 5,000 writers submit, a resume or sample or whatever. So we have a huge database. We’re constantly looking for new people too. So we usually have ads running like almost every month in different verticals depending on where we need people and where we want to review people. From the very first ad and their very first reply,

Brad: (14:58)

we ask for certain things a certain way and if they don’t meet those criteria, we automatically filter those people out. So they never even make it into our system. Hmm. So if we ask for your LinkedIn profile and you give me a website, you’re out. If we asked for your LinkedIn profile and you don’t give me anything, you’re out. If we ask for two writing samples, you give me one, you’re out. If we asked for two marketing samples, you give me one marketing, one finance, you’re out. Like we do things very specifically to try and weed out who’s just not paying attention. Because I can’t help, especially in a remote company. That’s one of the biggest things. I can’t tap you on the shoulder at your cubicle and be like, yo, where’s this at?

Brad: (15:38)

And I don’t like managing people in a traditional way. So if people can’t function on their own then they’re usually not a good fit here because I will just get frustrated and we’ll just get rid of them is the short answer. We’re also filtering for fit, not just aptitude or not just skills. We’re looking at the right kind of person. We like writers that can produce. So if, if you say you’re a writer and you tell me that your max weekly capacity is two articles a week, I’m going to say that’s not going to be good enough for us. Because if we’re trying to do 250 articles a month across our many 20 or 30 clients and we’re only managing people doing two or three articles a week, we’re going to need like 150 writers or something crazy, you know, so it’s just not gonna work for our model.

Brad: (16:28)

If we tell you here are the next steps and if you don’t complete the training program and you want to complain because it takes a little longer, then you’re probably not a good fit. If you complete it and you do the writing sample but you don’t follow the directions, then you’re out. If you do the writing sample and you do the article we’ll almost always pay you. But if the quality isn’t good enough, we’re not going to pay you and we’re going to fire you on the spot and we’re not gonna even let you in. And then when you do finally start, we’re going to make you write a couple of times before we ramp you up. To what you think you can do and what you tell us that you can do.

Brad: (17:08)

And so the whole point of all these hurdles essentially isn’t to just be jerks. It’s to only let the good people through at the end of the day that we know we’ll be able to count on and that we can work with for years. Like we have people that I’ll want to work with for forever, for as long as we do this because in this capacity or another one because they’ve already been able to show them that we’re a good fit together. This also applies to clients though. So we talked in the last episode about how you shouldn’t let every client through, but even the ones you do let through, you’re probably going to have an issue. I shouldn’t say you probably but if you work with hundreds of clients, you’re going to have a few bad apples.

Brad: (17:50)

That’s just the nature of the beast. And you’re gonna have a few clients that are mad at you. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s their fault. A lot of times it’s both of your faults and maybe not a good fit. And so one of the things we’ve talked about is in this space. Clients aren’t hard to get necessarily. Writers are almost harder to find than clients. So if we have a couple of bad clients and we’re struggling to find writers, I can solve that problem easier by firing the bad clients because it reduces my need for more great writers. So I can bring in a new client at a higher pay and reduce other ones or get rid of other ones because they’ve shown over our working history that they aren’t going to be a good longterm fit because they don’t pay on time for whatever reason.

Brad: (18:45)

In a lot of cases it’s easier to fire clients, still grow because you’re bringing in better, higher price clients and then it removes your need of constantly having to find better good writers. And so it’s kind of like this weird dynamic where just growing top-line revenue isn’t always the solution. It’s kind of like a stairstep approach where you need to understand and you need to be super aware of what is a good fit for you and what’s not a good fit for you. And then you need to have the confidence to kind of act on it. And so when I say fire a client too, there’s a lot of cases where we might do a project with a client and then we purposely don’t follow up afterward. For us, we’re done. Even if they want it to continue, we tell them, sorry we can’t work with you.

Brad: (19:30)

So it’s like we purposely bring a project to the finish line because we’re not trying to be assholes. When I say it, it sounds like I’m being an asshole when I say all this stuff, but it’s just to help support us so that we can do our best work for the clients that we do like and for the clients we’ve worked with for a long time. There are a lot of cases where we might work with a client for six weeks or eight weeks or 12 weeks and then realize pretty quickly like, this isn’t going to work for us. And it’s probably better if we just wrap this up and then go our separate ways afterward.

Daniel: (19:58)

Interesting. Yeah, it’s again, very counterintuitive to the typical thing of, you know, no matter what it takes, keep the client or you know, believe in the person but you’re making it, it’s almost like in terms of the hiring process when you were explaining that I was thinking of a, like a dojo, you know, where someone has to kind of qualify like through all these tests and things to them to even enter the dojo, you know, kind of thing that’s almost what it’s like.

Brad: (20:24)

Grab the marble out of my hand.

Daniel: (20:26)

Yeah. And so then by the time you get in, you actually value being there. That’s part of it, that’s for sure.

Brad: (20:33)

It’s like, what do people say about free advice, right? No one ever does anything with it and it goes back to all the other old cliche is like losing weight. Everyone knows how to lose weight. It’s not a secret. But if you read some free article on the website, you’re not going to put it into practice. But if you hire a physical trainer and you meet with them three times a week and you commit to it for six months, you’re going to lose a shit ton of weight. You’re going to value it way more and you’re going to treat it way more seriously because you’re having to show up, you have to make sacrifices, you have to show up on time, you have to pay them money. You have to like really commit.

Brad: (21:10)

Otherwise, it doesn’t last. But if you do commit, you get the end results. And so it’s the same even with clients. Like, if clients aren’t committed to the process, then it’s usually not going to be a good fit, no matter if on the surface or on paper, we’re all smart and we should all make it work. Sometimes in the real world, it doesn’t happen. And because we’re a small company and I’m the sole owner, I have growth goals, but I don’t. If we don’t hit a growth goal, no one gets fired as long as I’m happy. That’s our personal metric. So we have growth goals, we’re ambitious, we want to do a lot of things, we want to get better. But I’m not going to take on a bad client or a bad relationship just to hit some artificial goal that I set in the first place. And that I was just guessing on, on a spreadsheet, you know. So we are fairly fortunate in that sense where we can do things because they’re optimized for the longterm and they’re not optimized for some like bullshit quarterly objective that like makes the stock market think that you’re smart or something.

Daniel: (22:19)

Yeah. And I like that too. You’re not just setting bullshit ideals that you have to hit for no reason because you’ve invented them and then you know, there are heads on the chopping block because Oh wow, we didn’t make 22%, we only made 205 or whatever.

Brad: (22:32)

For sure. And a lot of times too, if you fail, there’s usually some reason, like a good reason, not just a bad reason, like someone sucks or whatever. There’s usually a pretty good reason. So it’s like, okay, maybe we were wrong. Maybe that target was wrong after all. Maybe I was wrong personally. I’m wrong all the time. Maybe I need to restructure how we do this. Maybe we need to restructure this department. Maybe we need to rethink how we task account managers with these types of things. And maybe we need to drop those because it’s not fair and we need to bring these ones over here. And if you’re working with people that you know are smart and they’re good, but they still fall short or they still screw something up with that, it’s usually a clue that like this person isn’t an idiot. The target or objective is wrong in the first place. And we need to maybe rethink how we go about doing it.

Daniel: (23:20)

Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah. Very, very wise. Um, and this kind of leads to the final point which was around getting yourself as the founder out of those day to day tasks by creating a team around you who can essentially support you. So talk a little bit about that.

Brad: (23:37)

Yeah. Uh, being a founder is really weird because you get really good at something and then you have to give it up. And that doesn’t happen anywhere else. In corporate America or even a startup, if you get really good at something, you just do more of it. They just pay you to do more of it. Or sometimes they don’t pay you to do more, but they just ask you to do more of it. And when you’re an owner or a founder or you’re in an organization that’s growing quickly, a lot of times your hat needs to change and you’re not always comfortable with it and you’re not always ready for it. And so typically, it’s common to want to hang on to the things you’re good at because you wake up and you’re in a routine and you know how to do X, Y, Z, and so you’re just gonna keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it.

Brad: (24:25)

But really, as soon as you can do it pretty well, you should have other people do it. And that goes for in house marketing teams too. If an editor or a project manager or whatever at a client company tells me, well, one of the red flags I look for is if they start, if they’re editing a document that we give them and they start rewriting everything, that’s a huge red flag to me. That’s a huge red flag to me because they’re not editing. They’re rewriting it to make it sound more like them. That is like the equivalent of not being able to delegate. So this person, their idea of editing is just, we’re gonna make it all sound like me, but you can’t scale that. And so that’s a huge red flag for me and for us as a company.

Brad: (25:11)

And I’ve fired clients for this and I’ve argued with clients. I’ve gone, like, I’m very usually passive in most cases, but I’m like very, there are a few things that I’ll die on. There are a few hills that I’ll die on. And one of them is if you have someone rewriting a full document, then that person sucks, not the writer and you’re doing it wrong. You need to figure out how to create a process, create a document, create a style guide, coaching, training. You need to figure out your shit before anything’s ever going to work, you could fire us, you could hire a hundred other writers. You’re still gonna have the same exact problem. And this is where it becomes really tricky as the founder in that if I get something to like a seven out of 10 my goal now is to hand it off as quickly as possible. It’s not to get to nine out of 10.

Brad: (25:56)

And usually for most people, if you’re a writer and you’re seven to 10 your goal is to get to nine out of ten. Yeah. If you’re the founder or the leader, you need to get the seven of the 10 and you need to hand it off to someone else who can take it to a 9 out of 10 and then you need to go do the thing that you’re bad at. So you need to go look at the things that you’re four out of 10 on, three out of 10 on. You need to go spend time on those. And it sucks because you constantly feel like an idiot and you’re constantly humbled cause you’re like, Oh I was really good over here? Why can’t I do a sales call? Or why can I manage money? Or why can’t I hire? Or like, why can’t I do all this other stuff? And you’re constantly having to hand off stuff that you’re not comfortable handing off to pick stuff up that makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, but that’s the only way you level up and grow fast and break through these little ceilings or these self-imposed roofs or ceilings that you place on your own limitations, your team limitations or whatever.

Daniel: (26:55)

Yeah, yeah, totally makes sense. Because, yeah, he’s, I mean, especially in the work we do, where you come from the writing world, you’re almost like an artist or something, you know, you’ve got that kind of streak in you. So having to give that up is painful. It’s like, I kind of like doing it. I don’t want to, yeah, exactly.

Brad: (27:10)

Yeah. Like I was a really good writer for a while and if you’re a freelancer, you need to get to 9 out of 10, 10 out of 10. That’s how you make the most money as a freelancer. And I think I did that but then I realized this company is never going to grow if I’m still the 9 out of 10 freelance writer. If I’m still trying to be the 10 of 10 writer, we’re never going to grow. And so now this, this company is better suited if I’m not writing at all. Like if I’m a six out of 10 writer or not writing at all, overall the company is better for it because I’m doing something that I could be better at and help other people do what they’re good at.

Daniel: (27:50)

Yeah. That’s, that’s really cool. Yeah. Well, I love the way you have almost like the constant reality check happening. You know, in everything you think about. And it sounds somewhat sounds pessimistic when you say it like don’t overestimate people and fire early and things like that, but it’s not, it’s just, confronting the facts. Right. And I think, I think that was from good to great or something. But you know that idea of like, Hey, let’s get down to reality here and from there you can build something, which is clearly what you did.

Brad: (28:24)

Yeah, for sure. I think again, whether we’re building a company, we’re building a team, we’re building a new product, we’re building a new market. If you’re trying something that’s not been done, you’re going to fail. If you’re trying something that’s been done but you’re doing it the first time, you’re going to fail. So you just have to embrace that. Like you just have to know that. How many people have run marathons? So many people. But the first time you try to run a marathon, it’s going to be awful. And then the second time you do it, it’s going to be awful again. And then like the sixth time you do it, you’re like, oh, I’m getting pretty good at this now. And you’re not doing anything different. You’re just doing more of it and you’re doing little tweaks.

Brad: (29:03)

Oh, I need to eat here and to drink a little more fluids here. I need to go to bed here. I need to do maybe a little more filled training here. It’s just like all these little changes are doing along the way and the quicker you are, the faster you are embracing all that. Even though it does sound like negativity, what you’re doing is you’re, you’re just accepting reality on reality’s terms and you’re planning ahead to not let those things kill you or bring you down. That’s, that’s the ultimate goal. The only way a company fails is by running out of money. So just don’t run out of money then. That’s the easiest way to stay in business don’t run out of money. It’s not like you have to be like a millionaire tomorrow. You don’t have to build this crazy huge, ambitious thing tomorrow. You just need to not run out of money. You keep moving forward so that a year from now, two years from now, then that’s when you hit those heights. And if you think you’re going to follow some bullshit, disingenuous blog post that talks about how they grew so big because they’re so smart, you’re setting yourself up for failure, unfortunately.

Daniel: (30:14)

Yeah, and I think that’s exactly right. I mean what you, all the things you’ve talked about this episode and last episode, it’s almost like the antidote to, all that kind of stuff because there is so much of that and it’s just part of the culture today where, you know, everyone wants to be the next whatever, you know, and, and be super successful tomorrow and you know, get their company IPO or whatever. But it’s not how it works, you know, the reality is that it takes a long time. And that was something I was actually just gonna I took from your article. Is this going to read, which I thought was a great way to finish, and maybe you can comment on this, but you said “It’s exhausting 90% of the time. Terrible 9% of the time. I still work 10 times more, stress10 times more, yet pay myself 50% of what a cushy corporate job might provide. But that 1% of the time and everything clicks. It’s magical.”

Brad: (31:07)

Yeah. I equate it to having kids too. Like you have young kids and you’re just constantly exhausted and frustrated and stressed. But then there are these occasions that are just totally worth it and it’s no different here. To do anything of significance in your life, it’s going to be proceeded by a lot of terrible stuff and there’s no, unless you’re born into some family fortune or unless you had this like great gift where you just went to like Stanford and then you got your Harvard MBA and you’re just on this fast track cause you like knew the right people and we’re in the right environment. For most people, most organizations or teams or projects or whatever, it’s going to suck and not work and then you just have to figure it out. And then if you just keep working out at you eventually get there.

Brad: (32:01)

So it’s not glamorous, but there’s also no secret, there’s no silver bullet. It’s just, and you don’t learn this until you start talking to other, for me anyway, from a business owner’s standpoint, I didn’t learn any of this stuff until I started speaking to other people who had actually gone through the same things. And then you realize like, Oh okay, this is how it is. This is not what the media portrays. This is not what people talk about on podcasts typically because it’s not sexy and it’s not fun. It’s depressing and it’s just like hard and heavy. But then yeah, you spot it quickly though. Like when you’re working with a team who gets it or when you’re working with a team who doesn’t get it. And you know, like they have these big grand plans. Like when we get clients, the smarter the client thinks they are,

Brad: (32:51)

usually the least well it goes. The more a client thinks they have it all figured out, the more problems you experience because they don’t have the context. And the more clients you deal with who are on that longer-term commitment and they understand there are going to be issues and they’re willing to work through them with you and they’re willing to embrace when they no something, when they don’t know something, it typically is a lot easier to ultimately get to wherever you’re trying to go.

Daniel: (33:29)

Yeah. So true. Well, these are all wise words of wisdom. I think I’m going to go back and listen to this myself just to remind me to cut the bullshit and face reality and you know, you will get there. It will be worth it in the end.

Brad: (33:42)

Now I need a drink after this. This is depressing.

Daniel: (33:48)

Welcome to this depressing episode. But it’s kind of like I was saying, you know, it’s almost like you are cutting the learning curve and you’re preempting the problems in some respects. So that’s really what it’s about.

Brad: (34:01)

Definitely. I think it’s why I wanted to talk about this and why I wanted to write about this. Because I’m not that smart. I’m smart in certain things. There are like three things that I’m really good at and there’s like 99 things I’m terrible at. And I feel like that’s pretty much true for most people. But yet most marketing hype is just complete bullshit out there. And most marketers and most like quote-unquote people who think they’re influencers are just full of the most goddamn bullshit ever. And I think it’s completely disingenuous and I don’t like, having this facade and I don’t like trying to keep up this facade where it’s, where everyone’s just saying the same stuff in the echo chamber and going along with it and just like scratching each other’s backs and like, you know, just, just treating other people like they’re idiots. And I think that that’s wrong ultimately. And so I think that it’s important to talk about stuff like this, even if it’s not always fun.

Daniel: (34:59)

And despite all that, you, you made the success of it. So that’s the whole point. It’s like you’re actually, where people want to be, and you’ve done it in a real way. Well, thank you sir. It’s always a pleasure and I’m sure we will have you back on future episodes to give us some more honest, brutal wisdom as we’ll call it.

Brad: (35:16)

Hopefully a little more uplifting next time.

Daniel: (35:18)

There you go. So for those of you who have listened to the end here, thank you for listening and Brad, thank you for being part of the podcast. We will be back again very soon with more on these type of topics. Sounds good. Thanks man.

Highlights

Why hiring experienced people can give rise to problems. Brad ran into this issue when hiring experienced writers. (06:52)

the more experienced someone is, the less likely they are to either change or adapt or evolve. And the harder this problem becomes of trying to get people to do something a certain way. Again, whether we’re talking about marketing, whether we’re talking about anything, it just becomes a lot more difficult. And you think it’s the opposite, you think you’re hiring someone with experience, they’re gonna be able to jump in and hit the ground running. And again, that’s, in my experience anyway, that’s pretty much never the case. 

Why firing clients can be beneficial to company growth. (18:45)

In a lot of cases it’s easier to fire clients, still grow because you’re bringing in better, higher price clients and then it removes your need of constantly having to find better good writers. And so it’s kind of like this weird dynamic where just growing top-line revenue isn’t always the solution. It’s kind of like a stairstep approach where you need to understand and you need to be super aware of what is a good fit for you and what’s not a good fit for you. And then you need to have the confidence to act on it. 

Hitting goals is important but it’s not worth taking on a bad client. (21:45)

So we have growth goals, we’re ambitious, we want to do a lot of things, we want to get better. But I’m not going to take on a bad client or a bad relationship just to hit some artificial goal that I set in the first place. And that I was just guessing on, on a spreadsheet, you know. So we are fairly fortunate in that sense where we can do things because they’re optimized for the long term and they’re not optimized for some bullshit quarterly objective that makes the stock market think that you’re smart or something.  

In a quickly growing company, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. (24:01)

And when you’re an owner or a founder or you’re in an organization that’s growing quickly, a lot of times your hat needs to change and you’re not always comfortable with it and you’re not always ready for it. And it’s common to want to hang on to the things you’re good at because you wake up and you’re in a routine. You know how to do X, Y, Z, and so you’re just gonna keep doing it. 

But you’re constantly having to hand off stuff that you’re not comfortable handing off to pick stuff up that makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, but that’s the only way you level up and grow fast and break through these little ceilings or these self-imposed roofs.