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Stacking the Bricks - Real Entrepreneur Confessions
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Stacking the Bricks - Real Entrepreneur Confessions

Author: Amy Hoy & Alex Hillman. Product business crusaders. Build your own thing.

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If you're tired of all the buzzwords, boosterism, mythologizing, the cult of overwork in the world of startups, it's easy to feel like the oddball in the room.

We're here to share the real stories of today's business bootstrappers: the makers who make their money with products and launches instead of client pitches and hourly consulting.
36 Episodes
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Over the last few weeks, I have been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people, just like you.And this time, I paid a visit to Will Toms and the REC Philly community here in Philadelphia. REC - which stands for "resources for every creator" - is a pretty incredible community and resource center geared towards helping artists, musicians, and other creators turn their creative skills into real business opportunities.Just last year, they opened an amazing facility for that community of creatives, sort of like a gym but with digital audio stations and recording studios instead of treadmills and weights.I also admire their dedication to education, and making sure that their community knows how to make the most of having access to those incredibly powerful tools.But most of all, I love the people. The staff, the leadership, and every community member I've met at REC is smart and creative, some of the best Philly has to offer.So I was excited when the team invited me to one of their "creator sessions" to share some stories and lessons surrounding one of my personal favorite lessons in The Tiny MBA: Audience Building Building Trust at Scale.The entire session is more than twice as long as what's here on our podcast, and includes parts of my personal business story. You can check that out on REC Philly's youtube channel.But here on the feed, I jumped straight to the lessons. In fact, you'll hear me give details and context for ten of MY favorite lessons that I hand picked specifically for this audience of creators, and why I picked each one.After sharing these lessons, I was joined on the virtual stage by REC Philly co-founder and my good friend Will Toms. Will is one of my favorite interviewers and moderators to watch work, so for me, being on the receiving end of his questions was a LOT of fun and for you, you're gonna get some new answers that you definitely haven't heard me talk about anywhere!Some of my fav questions from Will and the audience include:- The importance of listening as a business skill, and how you can practice it.- Where I learned how to sell people back their time and confidence.- And how much sharing is oversharing.I love any chance to jam with the REC Philly crew, and I'm very excited to share this session with you.So with that, I hope you enjoy this very special presentation from the REC Philly archives. Here we go!
Over the last few weeks, I have been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people, just like you.We'll not necessarily JUST like you, because you might have noticed that these last few conversations have been visits to podcasts hosted by dudes!Thankfully, I was able to end this white-male-podcast-host streak by visiting with Colleen Schnettler and Michele Hansen on the Software Social Podcast.Among a sea of white dudes talking about how awesome they are, Michele and Colleen's show stands out as something...special and needed. It feels less like an interview, and more like two smart professional friends offering weekly stories and support about what's going on in their respective businesses.I love shows like this, that feel more like a human conversation that we, the audience, just get to listen in to.So if you're into software and business, and like me want to hear more diverse voices talking about the things we're interested in, I highly recommend checking out their podcast backlog after you're done tuning into this one.So, about this episode!Like the last several podcast hosts I've visited, Colleen and Michele have recently read my new book The Tiny MBA, and true to form we had a great time going deeper into their favorite lessons from the book to help you get an even better understanding of how these lessons might be valuable for you.I found it especially interesting how Michele and Colleen both took valuable lessons from the book, even though they are at very different stages of their businesses!So in this episode, we talk about:- Why education is the most effective marketing you can create- How psychology can be thought of as "debugging, for people"- And why one question in The Tiny MBA left Colleen feeling TERRIFIED.Don't worry, by the time we were done with the conversation, she wasn't feeling terrified anymore, and maybe even excited to take on the challenge I proposed.So with that, let's get into this...maybe my favorite episode of The Tiny MBA podcast tour to date.I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation I had with Michele and Colleen on the Software Social Podcast. Here we go!
Over the last few episodes, I've been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people just like you to talk about some of their  favorites tidbits from my new book, The Tiny MBA. In THIS episode I visited with Tony Lopes on the Self Made Strategies Podcast, where he  explores modern collaboration, craft, and persistence.In this shorter excerpt from the longer conversation you can find on his site, we talk about:- The biggest hurdles and challenges in publishing a book (hint - it's not writing a book).- Making reversible decisions- And what people get wrong about risk - keep in mind that Tony is a lawyer!And a whole lot more!With that, I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation I had with Tony. Here we go!
Over the last few weeks, I've been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people just like you to talk about some of their  favorites tidbits from my new book, The Tiny MBA. In THIS episode I visited with Matthew Arnold on the Iowa Idea podcast, where he  explores modern collaboration, craft, and persistence.We talk about:- Why businesses - especially agencies - get distracted by awards- What it means to "flintstone" your work- And what people get wrong about passionAnd a whole lot more!With that, I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation I had with Matt. Here we go. 
Over the last few weeks, I've been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people just like you to talk about some of their  favorites tidbits from my new book, The Tiny MBA. In today's episode, I visit with Brendan Hufford from the SEO for the Rest of Us podcast to talk about some of his favorite lessons from The Tiny MBA.We talk about:Learning and feedback loopsBuilding in publicThe valuable knowledge that's often locked up behind closed doorsIn the full episode (which you can watch on Brendan's youtube channel) we talk more about the backstory and design of the book, so you can go check that out over there if you like. But for here on the stacking, the bricks feed, I jumped straight to the part where we start talking about the lessons that Brendan learned from the book and wanted to share.I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation with Brendan and I. Lets go!
Over the last few weeks, I've been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people just like you to talk about some of their favorites tidbits from my new book, The Tiny MBA. And today I'm sharing an episode from a live stream that I did with Ken Rimple and Becca Refford at Chariot Solutions, an enterprise tech consulting firm right here in Philadelphia. Chariot is a big force in the Philadelphia tech community, doing lots of great things for technologists in the region.In today's episode, we riffed on a few of Ken and Becca's favorite nuggets from the book, including:The power of slowing down to take a look for hidden CThe real reason self-promotion feels achy to you. And we explored a hidden theme of "wellness" in the book!Also, a quick shout out to Hannah Litvin, the designer behind The Tiny MBA. In this episode, we talk a little bit about her designs and the design process that we went through together. If you're thinking about creating a book of our own, and are interested in hiring a designer, you should absolutely check her out: https://www.behance.net/hannahlitvinIf you're interested in my full backstory, you can and should go check out the full episode The Tech Cast youtube channel: But for here on the stacking, the bricks feed, I jumped straight to the part where we start talking about the lessons of the book.I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation with Ken Rimple and Becker Refford from Chariot Solutions.
Hope you're safe, hope you're well, hope your loved ones are well, hope you're finding ways to stay sane and of course, finding ways to keep stacking the bricks to build your own product business. Over the coming weeks I'm going to be adding new episodes to the Stacking the Bricks feed to highlight conversations that I've been having across the internet with creators and entrepreneurs. Why have I been having these conversations? One: I'm stuck at home, just like you! But two: I have a new book, The Tiny MBA 100 Very Short Lessons about the Long Game of Business Short enough to read in 20-30 mins Available as an ebook but also for the first time, a paperback book! Today's episode is one of the first conversations I had about the book, with Louis Nicholls from the Sales for Founders podcast. Louie was one of the beta readers, and invited me to kick off a new seasons of his show to talk about the book and to go deep on a few of the lessons inside. I'll let him introduce the episode in a moment, but if you want to get your own copy of The Tiny MBA, you can go to https://tiny.mba to order it in paperback or ebook formats, OR find it on the amazon kindle store. With that, here's Louis. Oh, and go subscribe to his show too: https://pod.salesforfounders.com Enjoy. Full and Interactive Transcript available for this episode: http://stackingthebricks.com/podcast/ep30-sales-for-founders--the-tiny-mba/
Nathan Johnson left a corporate gig to bootstrap an affiliate business to 100,000 users. But to get it any bigger - and profitable - he would have to give up the very thing he left his corporate gig for: freedom. Ouch. Find out how he changed course to build a different business that DOES let him travel and spend more time with his family, while helping his growing audience of professional photographers. Links & show notes Nate's website: http://natephotographic.com/ The Film Guides that started it all: http://natephotographic.com/vsco-film/ Nate Johnson's Twitter: https://twitter.com/firstnate Nate Johnson's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/firstnate/? Additional Episodes, Essays, and more Stacking the Bricks: http://stackingthebricks.com Amy Hoy: https://twitter.com/amyhoy Alex HIllman: https://twitter.com/alexhillman
I've been wanting to do an episode with Brennan Dunn for a LONG time. He's one of our most successful students, having built an empire of resources and products for freelancers at doubleyourfreelancing.com. But freelancing rates aren't the only thing Brennan has figured out how to double...now he's mastered the art of personalizing on-page content to boost conversion rates, often 2x or more! Brennan has come a long way since he joined 30x500 with the idea to build and AirBnB for homecooked meals...and in this episode you're going to learn how he built his empire by stacking the bricks. Links & show notes Brennan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brennandunn Brennan's Double your Freelancing: https://doubleyourfreelancing.com Brennan's Drip Automation & Personalization Course: https://doubleyourfreelancing.com/drip-course/ Rightmessage: https://rightmessage.io/stackingthebricks Churnbuster: https://churnbuster.io Additional Episodes, Essays, and more Stacking the Bricks: http://stackingthebricks.com Amy Hoy: https://twitter.com/amyhoy Alex HIllman: https://twitter.com/alexhillman
Dave Ceddia knew how to ship, but none of his projects had ever made a sale. Today, $15,000 in sales of his book "Pure React" later, he knows how to create new, bigger products for his loyal and growing audience. In this episode, you'll find out how he stopped thinking of himself as a "lifer" at a cushy job to being in control of his professional future. And - YES - the Stacking the Bricks podcast is officially back! Links & show notes Book recommendation: Personal MBA by Josh Kaufmann Book recommendation: Badass by Kathy Sierra Dave's Website: https://daveceddia.com Pure React: https://daveceddia.com/pure-react/ Additional Episodes, Essays, and more Stacking the Bricks: http://stackingthebricks.com Amy Hoy: https://twitter.com/amyhoy Alex HIllman: https://twitter.com/alexhillman
Donovan picked up JFS in December. Read it over Christmas. By the end of February, he'd grown his mailing list to 1,500 people. He created a landing page and JFS'd an email course on CSS animation, with a price tag of $49. In the first 7 days, he made 50 sales — for a total of over $2,000. NICE. To learn more about how Donovan did it — including specific techniques for getting traffic to his blog posts — listen in right now… Show Notes Donovan's blog - http://hop.ie/ CSS Animation Rocks Course - http://cssanimation.rocks/ Amy's Book, JFS - http://justfuckingship.com/ Save 10% off JFS during the month of October using the code STACKER.
Here is the double-edged sword of the software business: All the “features” in the world will not matter if you don’t have the customer pipeline. It is better to lose many customers over a missing feature than spend a month on a feature that people say will make them sign up. Yet there really are features you’ll require in order to get and retain your best customers. OK, so maybe it’s a triple edged sword. Or maybe a citrus reamer. Shut up. I understood this in an intellectual sense, and I tightly managed our list of features for a long time. But we still built stuff that didn’t matter, while at the same time not building fast enough some of the things that really did. But we did not at any point do enough marketing. Never. Not once. Not even now. (It’s #1 on my agenda for this year.) So we will have these new features that our best customers really, truly need — features that will remove objections, and help us land some big fish, and retain them, too. But it’s not like overcoming an objection will magically draw new eyeballs in. New features do not fill your marketing pipeline. The value is in the features only once your customer owns the product. After they learn your name, read your sales page, sign up for your free guide, open a trial account… If there’s nobody to object, does a missing feature make a noise? No. In this episode we talk about the marketing vs product conundrum, the third of five things I wish I’d known when I started Freckle, things that would have made my life so much more profitable and pleasurable. Missed Part 1? Listen here. Missed Part 2? Listen here. Subscribe here or at http://unicornfree.com for new episodes of Stacking the Bricks every Friday!
In this episode we talk about the second of five things I wish I’d known when I started Freckle, things that would have made my life so much more profitable and pleasurable. Missed Part 1? Listen here. Adding people - partners, employees, contract staff - is one of the hardest parts of growing a business. It doesn't get talked about enough, and partly, because it's hard to talk about openly. In this episode we talk about the reasons why working with people falls apart so often and some things we've learned along the way to make wise decisions when adding people to the team. Subscribe here or at http://unicornfree.com for new episodes of Stacking the Bricks every Friday!
2015 was the best ever for Amy's SaaS business Freckle, with $625k of gross receipts, and so far we’re on track to hit close to $800k annual run rate (ARR) before this year is out. Those are some big numbers, but we didn’t start out there, and it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. In this episode we talk about the first of Five things I wish I’d known when I started Freckle, things that would have made my life so much more profitable and pleasurable. Up first is "There is always another inflection point coming" aka the myth that "everything gets easier when..." In this episode, we cover: Why this original article seemed to catch on like wildfire How to avoid post-launch depression Ways to keep making money until your SaaS is paying the bills Amy's favorite acorn squash recipe & Rudy's Rutabaga Rule ...and a lot more Listen up, and subscribe to get the next episode: Teams are NOT 'just add water'
When Kai Davis sends you an email, there's a good chance he's asking for something. Amazingly...he does it without looking like a total jerkface. Is he some sort of wizard of persuasion? No, no. He has a process. Kai is an outreach consultant - which we'll let him describe in this "live masterclass." But you're going to want to listen to this episode because unlike prior Masterclasses where Amy and I coached one of our students, Kai is actually coaching ME (Alex) through building an outreach strategy to get our new Year of Hustle Roadmap in front of new audiences. Let Kai break it down one step at a time - and then you can use these strategies next time you're trying to get a guest spot on someone's blog or podcast, get a testimonial, or simply ask a colleague for a favor. Related Links Year of Hustle Roadmap Kai's outreach course <3 Amy & Alex
Let us show you how most of the "risk" in starting a business isn't really risk at all. Related Links Just one instance of infamous tweet mentioned in this episode: https://twitter.com/amyhoy/status/699722679788703744 (notice the replies) "Petting puppies with Peter Drucker" also mentioned in this episode <3 Amy & Alex
Got 5 minutes? Then let Amy give you a swift kick in the ass. Learn why "accountability" doesn't work the way you think it does, and how to change your mindset to get more done. Need another swift kick in the ass from time to time? Subscribe to Stacking the Bricks for more and join our spam-free email list for more stories from the trenches of building our businesses, interviews with real entrepreneurs like us, helpful (and free) how-to resources, and a whole lot more.
Got 5 minutes? Then let Amy give you a swift kick in the ass. Listen to this quick, bite-sized episode of Stacking the Bricks to learn why business is unlike any other game you've ever played. Need another swift kick in the ass from time to time? Subscribe to Stacking the Bricks for more and join our spam-free email list for more stories from the trenches of building our businesses, interviews with real entrepreneurs like us, helpful (and free) how-to resources, and a whole lot more.
Last year was dedicated to renovating 30x500, and it's already paying off for our students and for us. Yayyyyy! But if we're honest...some of the most crucial parts of our business are a mess. A mess that makes money, but messy still: Our website isn't optimized to help new readers and listeners - it's kind of a miracle that people can find anything at all We barely have a marketing funnel And our launch strategy needs to be revamped now that 30x500 Academy is a self-study course. So for the rest of this year, we're turning our attention to making sure the cobblers children get their shoes, and in this episode you can learn exactly how we're going to do it. p.s. check out the detailed numbers and specific launch content from the "C+ effort launch" we talk about in this show: https://unicornfree.com/2016/the-good-enough-launch
Amy has talked about starting Freckle. Alex has talked about starting Indy Hall. But NEITHER of these were our first brushes with business. To get our true origin stories, you'd need to see what we were doing to earn money while we were still in grade school. And it wasn't from babysitting... Jump into a time-traveling DeLorean with us to go back, back back in time and learn how our EARLIEST experiences with business, making sales, and understanding customers and their behaviors shaped the businesses we run today.
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