Monday, October 10, 2022

From $0 to $5M In 17 Months With This 1 Habit

In today's issue, you will learn the 7-step system that took Adriane Schwagner’s business from $0 to $5,000,000 in revenue in 17 months. In a world of hacks, multi-step funnels, and paid acquisition strategies, we’ll walk through a framework to help you cut through the noise and gain the clarity to make key decisions that will move your business forward.

Adriane Schwagner

CEO at GrowthAssistant

Hey, Hey!

In today's issue, you will learn the 7-step system that took Adriane Schwagner’s business from $0 to $5,000,000 in revenue in 17 months.

In a world of hacks, multi-step funnels, and paid acquisition strategies, we’ll walk through a framework to help you cut through the noise and gain the clarity to make key decisions that will move your business forward. 

The problem is that most people view a plan as a static map when in reality, it's a flywheel used to generate valuable data that you can use to iterate your way to success.

Use A Plan For The Battle. Use A Flywheel For The War.

Here’s what you’ll walk away with:

  • Low-Risk Startup Building: Learn how to hedge against risk in the early days of your start-up by delaying hiring talent as long as possible.
  • Building An Audience Lead Machine: Network + Twitter = Growth
  • The Low-Cost, High-Value Matching Engine: How you can create your own market by vetting both the supply and demand sides of the equation. 
  • Goal Flywheel: A 7-step process for goal setting (and achieving) that will compress time frames and focus action.  
  • The EA For Moms: A business idea that revolves around the one group everyone loves.

Today’s guest is Adriane Schwager, Founder, and CEO of GrowthAssistant. Her superpower is expertly evaluating human capital and building high-performance teams. 

This skillset created a $5M ARR juggernaut in 17 months with $0 in funding or marketing. 

Today we get to explore the systems that Adriane has built that led to this outlier success.

Follow her on Twitter at @aschwags3.

Let’s get after it!

GrowthAssistant: Building A Matching Engine

In this section, we’ll cover: 

  • Why hiring talent is dangerous for a start-up and how outsourcing everything early solves this problem.
  • How soft EQ skills like people management and talent evaluation can be productized and monetized. 
  • How to leverage your network and Twitter as an unfair advantage over your competition.

What Is GrowthAssistant?

In short, GrowthAssistant embeds full-time offshore growth marketers in your company to handle manual tasks, campaign management, design, and reporting.

This unique solution is part of the secret sauce that has propelled Adriane’s business into hypergrowth.

GrowthAssistant

GrowthAssistant vets both the demand and the supply side of the equation.  They help businesses find the top 1% of outsourced marketing talent. They then help define how to deploy this talent to scale properly.

How Did The Idea Come About?

Adriane left her job in February 2020 to take some time to figure out the next steps for her career.  Tired of the corporate grind, she was looking forward to some time alone for introspection (she didn’t say meditation, but you know she thought about it). 10 days later, Covid hit, and suddenly, she found herself homeschooling her two children.  

Instead of going in the tank because her best-laid plans were foiled, she kept her mind open to new opportunities. Working remotely suddenly became normalized for everyone.  This set the frame for firms to expand their thinking on hiring and contracting talent.  

While Adriane worked on a consulting gig for six months, she started to kick around “people ops” ideas with her future co-founder Jesse Pujji - the CEO of Ampush, a well-known growth marketing agency.

What Problem Did They Observe? 

Finding and hiring talent is not easy to do. Fortune 500 companies are stable, have tons of resources, and still screw it up. Now imagine you are a start-up trying to scale. Your in-house people are exhausted and not getting enough support. A wrong hire could very well torpedo the company. Your SOPs are poorly defined (because you don’t have any yet), so you have people getting paid a lot of money doing $15 an hour tasks. Also, most start-ups don’t get the product market fit down until later, with three or four iterations of the business.

What if you hire someone and then discover you need a different set of skills a month later? Hiring and firing are expensive and time-consuming, and turnover can negatively impact morale.

This is not a recipe for success. People are a leverageable growth asset if used correctly and a soul-crushing albatross if there is not talent to need fit.  GrowthAssistants core mission is to completely handle the “people ops” problem on both ends of the coin.

What Solution Did They Build? 

GrowthAssistant interviews prospective employers to find out what they need versus what they want. Adriane is an expert in leveraging human capital to free up a company's strategic teams to stay in their zone of genius. Sometimes this means educating founders and decision-makers on how to use talent. Adriane and her team always want to ensure companies solve the right problems.

On the labor side, GrowthAssistant curates the best offshore talent in the world and handles the complete recruitment cycle. Client companies are not involved at all. They have created a matching engine that allows them to use a subscription model with seamless onboarding and offboarding. Commitments are month-to-month.  Companies can ratchet up or scale down depending on need. This flexibility is a powerful tool when dealing with market instability.  

In a nutshell, GrowthAssistant is dedicated to helping companies grow quickly by deploying the top 1% of offshore talent.

How Did They Scale It So Quickly? The co-founding team has a unique combination of superpowers - Adriane’s unfair advantage is her ability to create high-performing teams. Her co-founder’s unfair advantage is his powerful network and subject matter expertise in growth marketing. Putting the two together put serious velocity to their idea. 

The founders started by pitching the idea to Jesse’s network. They kept getting the same answer: “sign me up months ago” (they still have clients from those early validation efforts).

Once they knew they had a winner, they decided to go the organic route and leverage Twitter instead of running ads.

Here’s exactly how they did it: Check out this tweet thread for more

  1. Step 1: Define The Strategy - Build an audience via Twitter and create a lead funnel to turn a portion of that audience into paying customers. 

  1. Step 2: Build The Content System - Each platform has its unique path to growing an audience. For Twitter, the best way to grow is to create content threads so well that they garner large amounts of retweets. The better the content =, the more retweets. The team created a system to create high-quality threads repeatedly. 

Content System

  1. Step 3: Create The Funnel - The next step monetizing their reach. Now that they had a repeatable path to capture attention, they needed a way to pull those prospects off of Twitter and sell to them. To solve this, they added a Typeform funnel to their Twitter profiles. 

  1. Step 4: Iterate - It’s never easy to build a high-velocity content machine. The team continuously iterates on this content model to produce viral content and capture the right type of client into their funnel. 

Did it work? Here are the results.

The DFS Playbook: How To Set Outrageous Goals And Achieve Them

Big outcomes don’t happen without a thoughtful plan. When you find yourself in need of a plan, use the Desired Future State (DFS) framework.

This process can be broken down into 7-steps: 

  1. Reflection: Review your prior goals. Keep what works and solve the rest. 
  2. Define The Desired Future State: List out future company objectives. 
  3. Define Your Current Reality: Define the frame that you are working in.
  4. Build The Bridge: How do you get from the current to the future state? Ignore all constraints and think outside the box.
  5. Rank Your Opportunities: Using the “ICE” framework. Rank the best solutions to your most pressing goals or challenges.
  6. Define Action Items: Who does what and by when. Make sure that each action item has an owner.
  7. Did it work: Track your performance and continue iterating on your company's biggest goals and challenges.  

Step 1: Reflection: First, look at your goals from last quarter. Revisit what happened - as a team, ask yourself what worked and didn’t.  

Whenever you explore wins and failures in an open forum, egos will get involved. Don’t worry. That's expected. The key here is to get all the emotion out of it. Get past the feelings so that you can get into a creative state. 

Once you have cleared all the entanglements and done an autopsy on the last 90 days, you can move to step 2.

Step 2:  Define The Future State: Now that you have figured out where you have come from, it is time to figure out where you are going. Set your goals for the next quarter. The key here is not to get too granular. Take the insights you learned from step one, what worked or what should be avoided, and set a direction moving forward. Leave yourself to course correct but be specific enough to stay out of rabbit holes.

Step 3: Define Your Current Reality: As Mike Tyson says, everyone has got a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Analyze external factors that could be obstacles to your success.  Market forces, counterparty risk, and overall market conditions could negatively impact your plans.  Best to figure it out now instead of being surprised later.  Drill down here.  Then do it again. 

Example: 

Step 4: Build The Bridge: Determine how you can reach your desired future state. At this point, do not worry about feasibility. This is the one time when there are no bad ideas.  You never know where aggressive ideation can take you. There is no question you will be able to lay out a traditional action plan, but you might just discover gold in those hills. Go for it.

Step 5: The I.C.E. Method

The acronym stands for Impact, Confidence, Ease, and Ease. Rank each possible step forward with a numerical score from 1 to 3. This is not a simple math equation. 

Let’s continue with the example.

Now that you have scored each of your initiatives, it’s time to rank them. This gives you a clearer path to action initiatives that are right for your business.

If you are late in the game in the planning stage, you may value ease higher than the other two categories.  If everything is running smoothly, it may be time to swing for the fences and go for a high-impact play. The important thing is to think through why you are selecting the path forward.

Step 6: Define Action Items: Things should be pretty mechanical at this point. You know where you are going and how to get there. Make sure to define and delegate action items as clearly as possible. Deadlines are in place, and each player on the team knows what they are responsible for. Get to work, and don’t look back until the end of the quarter.

Step 7: Did It Work? This is the time when you look at your KPIs and metrics. Did you hit your goals? If not, why not? This is where you take an accounting of the last 90 days and craft a response. 

Keep repeating this process until you get where you want to go.

Business Opportunity: EA For New Parents 

Being a parent is a full-time job. But you still have to pay the bill, right? Throw in a demanding job and a boatload of other obligations, and you have a real challenge.

Managing the day-to-day activities of a family is a lot of work, but maybe you don’t have to do it alone. 

Here’s The Idea: The Executive Assistant For Parents

An executive assistant for busy moms helps them with definable, repeatable tasks by identifying and outsourcing the everyday tasks that all new parents face.

Here’s how you could build it:

  1. Validate The Idea: Interview new parents, find out repetitive tasks that each group wishes they could outsource, and develop your first suite of outsourcing ideas. 
  2. Start With Tasks That Can Be Productized: Everyone wants to find a new babysitter, but this is a reference-intensive task with high stakes. Focus on things that can be templated but are shared by both groups. The key here is to explain it easily so it can be delegated off-shore.  A good example is appointment setting - dentists, primary care physicians, nutrition counselors, sleep coaches, and tickets to a children's movie.
  3. Create The Offer: There are a few ways you can go here.  You could shoot for a one-off ticket system with a customer support model. A frazzled mom puts in a request for help with rescheduling a reservation or booking a plane flight. The other option is a subscription service where moms pay a monthly fee at a different tier structure for ease of access and the amount of tasks that can be delegated. 
  4. Get Your First Cohort: Limit the first set of customers to 5-10 moms in a specific geographic area. Use this group to work out the kinks and create a case study for marketing. Testimonials here are key. 
  5. Systematize Fulfillment: Now that you have some live bullets under your belt figure out what can be delegated the easiest and streamline your offer. What are the highest-value tasks that you can repeatedly solve?Now it is time to scale. 
  6. Double Down On Growth: Use the case studies you created from your first cohort to create content on social media. Go where the frustrated moms are and show them there is another way. As your client base begins to grow, invest gains back into marketing. Your client base is your biggest asset and biggest validator. Do everything you can to grow quickly and create a flywheel. 

I hope this got you thinking. See you next week!