When to say no to the sale

say no to the sale

As a startup founder, you inevitably learn many lessons the hard way. Perhaps one of the hardest I have had to learn was when to say no to the sale.

The situation

At the time of receiving this lesson, we were at just over $10K MRR. We had raised $200K from an angel investor. Our average deal size was around $3500/yr, LTV was $20,000, CAC was $1200. And, we had a good flow of inbound demo bookings.

With metrics like this it’s easy to attract salespeople. One “rockstar” on our team was a national lead at Linkedin for the previous six years, who wanted to be our VP of Sales. And, I was feeling pretty good about myself for having a company that could attract that level of talent.

But here’s the thing. When someone with an amazing resume sits down with you it’s really easy to move too quickly. I didn’t understand where his real sweet spot was along the array of deal size.

Time for some references

There is a book that I read after learning this lesson that might have helped me avoid some pain. The book is Rethinking The Sales Force. The author is Neil Rackham who also wrote what I consider to be the essential book on sales, SPIN SELLING. But it’s the former that had the key takeaway, which had I understood earlier, would have been nice.

Most businesses in their early stage should focus on one type of customer and solve one kind of problem. While that might seem obvious, what surprised me is how important it is to build your sales team people that excel at selling a solution of your size.

Long story short, this rockstar salesman was not great, or frankly, even interested, in selling $3,500 solutions, rather, his real talent was taking a $3,500 sale and turning it into a $100,000 partnership. Notice the word partnership.

It wasn’t until I read Rethinking The Sales Force that I understood the real difference in the mind of the prospect when you are selling a small B2B SaaS subscription as opposed to an enterprise deal. Mind you, I had a sense of it given the absolute mountain of stress that this deal had caused me for months.

Yes, I’m human too

Don’t get me wrong, the moment I heard about this deal, I was beyond excited and did not even consider to say no to the sale. And when it closed, oh man did I celebrate! But three weeks later, when I learned what this customer expected, I started to see the challenges we had created.

He wanted customizations, he wanted a dedicated account manager, he wanted my personal time on a regular basis. All of which are fair expectations at that price point, none the less, we cannot accommodate.

We were set up and only somewhat optimized (at that point) for an SMB SaaS on-boarding experience, and that was leaving enough to be desired as it was. And, when we tried to support him (“him” being a gentleman who is not afraid to yell and swear at his vendors until he gets his way) through that process, guess what happened… Well, let’s say I became accustomed to having a scotch or two every night for the next few months.

The resolution

Thankfully, now two years later, he is still a customer, albeit on a very different package. And with many tense conversations, and flying across the country to meet him face to face, we maintain a mutually beneficial relationship without having to provide a refund that could have bankrupted us.

So in summary, this was a sale that I should have said no to, and today, our sales people knows that if a prospect is looking for a different kind of solution than we offer, to try to qualify them as a prospect for what we do, and send them elsewhere for what we don’t.

Tips for building a SaaS sales team

building a saas sales team

Building a SaaS sales team is an art

Now trust me, I’m no Picasso but I have been around the block a few times with this task and I have enough bumps and bruises to offer some level of valuable information.

After being a sales rep for an internet company on and off for 5 years, in 2009 I was put in charge (rather somehow convinced the CEO that I was the guy to make this company grow) as the Director of Sales and Marketing of a niche LMS and eLearning company called Expert Online Training. This was back in the days when you might still use a locally hosted CRM like ACT and you would have never heard of SDR’s or Customer Success reps.

We also didn’t have access to tools like Join.me or GotoMeeting, instead we would simply cold call prospects, get them to open up their browser and guide them through the site like a seeing eye dog. And it worked!

Fast forward to today where I am the CEO/CTO/CMO/CFO and founder of a currently quasi-bootstrapped SaaS company called Hubbli when I am going to share some lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

So let’s talk about recruiting

I don’t know what exactly has shifted but thankfully I have been having a much easier time finding solid sales candidates then ever before. In fact they are finding me, literally on a daily basis I have sales people reaching out to me telling me they are interested in a position.

I’m going to chalk it up to SaaS sales positions becoming really sexy and that we are a startup so a lot of people understand that in a sales role they can join a new company, make great money in the short term, and actually see some benefit when and if the company has a successful equity event.

I would say that if you are a SaaS startup that is selling something with a price tag of at least $500/mo your best bet for recruiting sales candidates are places like Angel.co, or anywhere else startups hangout online.

Get the bonus content: SaaS Sales Hiring Checklist

Don’t do what I just did

So here’s a painful lesson I just learned. If you are a founder and are trying to build your initial sales team DO NOT even think about hiring inexperienced sales people. I don’t know what I was smoking but I actually thought that since I was able to hire, train and coach large sales teams successfully in the past as a “Director of Sales” that I could also do it today as a Founder.

Well I was wrong, very wrong and it almost killed my business. After experiencing great growth for 5 months we lost our amazing sales guy and I was so busy maintaining the roadmap, managing developers, supporting customers, paying bills, etc etc etc I had no plan to onboard any more sales people to ensure continuity. Not only that, I was approached by a couple of hungry, motivated, capable but inexperienced sales candidates and I actually thought I could teach them how to close.

That was a stupid and egotistical thing to do. And there began our 3 months of no growth. Well, to be fair, these guys did a great job of booking and doing demos, but they had no sense as to when to drop a lead or when to push for a credit card.

Compare that to the new sales guy we have that just took a 5k deal and turned it into a 100K deal on a 3 year contract… ya, he knows how to do that and could write a book on the subject. That is who you want to hire, someone who can teach you how to close a deal and turn it into a front-loaded 6 figure whale.

Oh and we’re on-boarding a cohort of two more experienced sales guys every quarter so we’ll never get caught with our pants down. The way we are doing this is dedicating one day a week to continuously running new candidates through a well thought out and rather long hiring process.

I picked Friday as my interview day which means every Friday we meet, interview, test, hangout with new candidates. Now we can always be relaxed and know that at any point in time we can pull the trigger and hire the best one or two candidates in our pipeline.

The Interview Process

Here’s my process and I’m sure it could be better but it’s working well. Each one of these steps is done a no less than a week apart.

Step 1: 15 minute phone interview

This is just to see if they are worth meeting with. You should approach them the same way you might do a short discovery call before deciding if a prospect is worth a demo. You don’t owe anyone 30-60 minutes of your precious time. One thing I like to see is if they candidate ask me questions and gets me to go over the 15 minutes without noticing it.

Step 2: 30 minutes in person interview

So this one is perhaps the hardest one to do right. It’s really easy to fall in love with a candidate way to quickly without knowing nearly as much as you need to. You simply can’t learn enough about someone in one sitting so don’t even try. This is the time when you want to ask them how they handle different situations and try to get enough of a gut feeling as to whether they have what it takes.

Step 3: Mock demo

There are many ways to make this happen but I like to have them come back into the office after a week of preparing a demo of our product. They job is to sell us our product in the same way we sell it ourselves. We aren’t expecting them to nail all the features or value propositions, rather we want to see if they know how to handle a demo and secure the next goal of the pipeline.

If they do happen to nail the features and value props then you know they did their homework. In fact the two guys we just hired in our most recent cohort did such a good job learning the product that we could have literally had them start that day.

Step 4: Reference Check

Do not skip this step, it’s really easy to drop the ball on references once someone kills it in the interview and mock demos but I think this is crucial and I simply won’t hire someone unless I speak to 2 appropriate references.

Step 5: The Offer Meeting

At this point you have hopefully already discussed the way you structure your employment agreements so there are no surprises and this offer should align with that. I like taking another week before making the offer while letting them know they are in the final stages and that we are making a decision between them and other good candidates.

If they are solid candidates out in the market then they are probably fielding other offers and this gives them the chance to make a decision to go with you. Again, this was the case with both guys in our most recent cohort and it’s comforting to know that we have to new sales guys that picked us as much as we picked them.

Get the bonus content: SaaS Sales Hiring Checklist

Well I think that will do for this post but if you want to be notified when I write more then make sure you sign up for my newsletter. My next post will probably be something like ‘How to structure expectations for the first three months’

If you have other questions about building a SaaS sales team please use the comment section below.

When a startup should hire a product manager

As as a product manager in Toronto who often acts as a strategic advisor to startups I often have conversations about when a startup should hire a product manager.  I have noticed a common inflection point at which I think startups need to make a strategic HR decision to hire a product manager.

I want to take a step back for a moment and talk about what a product manager does in an organization.  A PM is often described as the CEO of the product.  This is fairly accurate because the product is the central point of the business to which everyone is connected.  Similarly, the product manager is the person responsible to strategically manage the product, acting as the connection point between the product and every part of the business internally and externally.  Even if a company is built in silos, the product manager has to take the product and cut through all departments to ensure it’s success.

When a startup is just getting off the ground with a founder or two and perhaps a few additional team members, everyone is having a massive impact on the product.  These are the developers, designers and marketing people making version 1.0 in a totally flat and cross-functional organization.  It’s super easy to be collaborative and people are really excited and passionately taking ownership over the product.  I’ve been there a few times and I know how sensational it is.

If the team does a good job and creates something interesting, after three, six or nine months there will be some initial movement. This could take the form of investment capital or maybe some decent early adoption, perhaps some media buzz.  Inevitably people start to get pulled into their areas of specialty.  The founders are having more meetings with investors, the developers are squashing more and more bugs as early adopters start breaking things, marketing people are writing more copy, designers are making more landing pages, etc.  And all of a sudden the product, which is the whole reason for all this effort starts to get less attention.

What generally happens next is a resource decision to add people to the existing areas of specialty.  Another designer over here, a junior developer over there, and on the surface this makes sense.  It’s math right, like more cores in a processor… But I humbly disagree. What I suggest is making the next hire a product manager.  Why? because someone needs to be focused full time on the product.  This isn’t about taking ownership away from everyone else, rather allowing the whole team to do their respective jobs they specialize in while ensuring that the product is getting the strategic attention it needs.

A good product manager makes sure that all team members have their input on the product and understand the “why” and the “what”.  They should also be able to relieve bottle necks in different areas of operations to help everyone put their respective fires out until the business is doing well enough to hire more people.

If you’re a startup founder and you’re feeling the pain of growth then congratulations,  you’re off to a good start.  I hope this blog post gives you something to think about and helps guide you to the right resourcing decision for your team.

How To Hire And Keep Web Developers

In this blog post I write about some key lessons I’ve learned regarding how to hire and keep web developers.


If you are in the same position I am, you spend a lot of time hiring and keeping web developers.  If you have done this for any length of time you know just how hard it is.   I don’t think there is a tougher industry to be recruiting and leading in today.

The demand for web developers is extremely high and it just keeps growing.  I’ve tried every strategy I can think of to find talent and I’ve come up with some realizations that I’d like to share with you.

Before I move forward, I have to suggest that you read ‘Good To Great’ by Jim Collins. Pay particular attention to chapter 3 where he writes about putting the right people on the bus.

Don’t hire the smartest people you can find.  Yeah, that’s right, I said it.  The success of your business will not depend on the collective IQ if your team.  Where’s the proof?   Think about 95% of startups that fail even though they are filled to the brim with ridiculously over paid geniuses.  Of course your team members need to be smart (enough).   But, as long as the are in the  intellectual ball park you should focus your hiring decisions on personality, attitude and motivations.

Take more time than you want to.  It takes more money and more time to build something when you have to keep re-hiring in the build process.  I personally don’t make an offer unless I’ve had at least 4 calculated interactions with a candidate.  The last meeting I have is social.  I take them out for dinner, and if they are married I invite their spouse.  Some people are surprised by this but I don’t want someone whose spouse doesn’t support them working for me.  I got this idea from Dave Ramsey’s latest book ‘Entreleadership’

Test all of your candidates… all of them!  After my first interview I have them do a hand-written test of the programming languages in which they will be developing.  In addition to that, after a follow-up hour long interview I have everyone perform a whole day of coding.  We give everyone the same task so we can compare all our candidates on the same base line.   When I tell recruiters this they generally cringe but since I’m not in the business of making recruiters lives easier, I don’t really care.  Which brings me to my next point.

Be cautious with recruiting firms.  The allure of recruiters is strong and I do use them but in limited doses.  Before signing with any recruitment company I ask them for blind resumes of candidates that I will have the chance to meet if I sign with them.  Their concern is for their business, which is getting people hired.  They are not concerned about the success of your business.

Do not pay top dollar.  Sorry guys, if you want to be part of my team you’re going to have to show me that it’s not just about the money.  I do strongly advocate paying people fairly according to their market value.   Still, if you think you can win the best people by buying them you’re going to end up with turn-over.   Nothing costs more than re-hiring.  A great way to measure someone’s market value is by using Payscale.com.  Remember, if they are only in it for the money they will leave the minute someone offers them more.  Someone will always offer them more.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.  OK, this is a huge topic and it needs to be part of every interaction you have with everyone in your life.  Thus, if you want a motivated team that is loyal to the company and its mission, DO NOT say or do things that you would not like directed at yourself.  For a great podcast on this topic listen to this Entreleadership podcast titled ‘The Golden Rule In Business’.

Well I hope these tactics help you figure out how to hire and keep web developers.  The right team members make all the difference.  If you have other suggestions or insights from your own experiences please leave them in the comments below.

Happy hunting!

3 Ways To Let Your Team Members Know How To Succeed

Ask any business leaders if they believe it’s their job to make sure their team members are equipped with the necessary tools to perform their jobs, they would answer yes, of course.

So why is it that emplyees who get all the new office equipment still often feel they don’t get the support they need, while others work in much less attractive settings but are able to perform with success and enthusiasm?

Well the truth is, the tools that really help someone accomplish their work and feel motivated are the intangibles that are much harder to foster.   Thankfully, like everything else, the harder something is, the more benefit that comes.

From my experience managing teams, these are the most important 3 ways to let your team members know how to succeed.

  1. Communication.

    How are you communicating with the individual members of your team?  Do you speak to them all the same way? Have you ever considered what their personal communication needs are? Some of your team members need to be spoken to in a short and direct form, whereas others need to be suggested things in a more conversational way.

    The challenging part is finding out what ways each person operates and a very useful resource is Dan Millers website 48days.com where you can access personality assessments for your whole team. He offer tools that help you figure out exactly who you are dealing with and what their personality strengths are. This is also essential in order to put them in the positions in which they shine.  It’s about getting the right people in the right seats and communicating with them so they know how to shine.

  2. Key Result Areas.

    Do your team members know exactly what they need to do in order to win every day? If your answer is no, then you have a problem. As a business leader, one of the most important things to do is make sure your team members feel confident they know how to be successful.

    Think about it, who is more motivated, someone who is running toward a goal they can see, or someone who is running with no idea why? Every person you lead should know exactly what their KRA’s are so they can be motivated, and very importantly, accountable.  For a great explanation of KRA’s check out Dave Ramsey’s book titled Entreleadership.

  3. Regular Engagement.

    So let’s say your have your staff take personality assessments and you’ve read them over.  You’ve also sat with each one of them and detailed their Key Result Areas and each person you lead knows exactly how to win each and every day.  What do you do now? Well, now you take all this information and engage them regularly.

    I think daily engagement is probably the right amount for most roles, but of course there are cases where it might not be practical or it may even be detrimental.  The point is, it needs to be regular, and of high quality. I start every day off with a meeting with my team in which we go over what we accomplished the previous day, and we set the priorities for that day.  This keeps things moving and keeps people actively engaged in their KRA’s.

These are just a few tools/practices that help me keep my team productive and I can assure you there is much more to write on these topics.   Along with the resources I’ve mentioned above, I suggest reading books by Jim Collins.  These are mandatory readings for my team members.



5 Reasons You Should Start Tweeting

My name is Jono Landon and I’m an internet business developer in Toronto Canada and recently I felt the need to write about my top 5 reasons you should start tweeting.

Even as someone who knows a lot about social networks, until recently the real value of twitter was somewhat hidden from me.  I say “real value” because though I’ve understood twitter from a text book point of view, it wasn’t until I started to depend on it that I really got it.  And to be honest, I think there is still much for me to learn.

So what caused this new dependancy? well I happen to be launching a new niche social network here in my home town, Toronto.  Our target early adopters are mommy bloggers and once I started connecting with this unique and exciting breed online, it didn’t take long to see how twitter is the glue that holds this group together.  And well, you gota be where your market is.

The way I can best sum up Twitter, is that it’s like texting with your friends but doing it publicly.  Being that it’s public, it’s a great way to bring other interested parties into the conversation.  So when someone is searching twitter for something they need and they find your conversation about it, they find you.  If you are someone who can help them solve their problem then you’ve got a opportunity in your hands.  That opportunity could be a business lead, restaurant recommendation, up to date traffic info… you name it, people are tweeting it.

Tweeting takes some time to figure out, but there are only a few things you need to get used to.  Like reading words with symbols before them (#, @) and learning how to express lots of meaning within 140 characters. Here are my top 5 reasons you should start tweeting.

  1. It will improve your communication skills. Twitter forces you to communicate a message that is engaging within a 140 maximum character limit.  This is an exercise in being concise and clear.  I can’t think of a more valuable lesson for writers, especially copy writers.
  2. It’s a great way to meet people you relate to.  People find each other based around topics that matter to them.  Where else are there millions of people in one place looking to connect about topics at all hours of the day.  It has simply never existed before.  For example, while connecting with mommy bloggers on twitter I met @elizabethtraub, had a very enjoyable hour long phone conversation during which I learned about her talented musician daughter Emily Otteson.  I happen to also work in the music industry so this was a lot of fun.
  3. It requires virtually no investment.  Not only are there millions of people looking to connect but they are doing it in a incredibly simple, convenient, fast, and free way.
  4. It’s a lot of fun.  It’s like a puzzle, trying to get your message across in 140 characters.  When you’re forced to be concise, you start to learn which words are essential and which words encapsulate many others.  It’s a game.
  5. It will ensure you are not out to lunch with progress. Though it takes a little more labor to get into the grove then facebook does, this things isn’t going any where so you might as well at least give try and see what all the fuss is about.

I’m sure I’m going to write more about Twitter down the road as I continue to use it and see more value.  In the mean time, I hope this helps shed some light on this strange but incredibly powerful form of connecting with others.  Happy tweeting!

What’s Your Startup’s Growth Strategy?

A couple of weeks ago someone suggested I read the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.  So I went and did just that, and I’m very happy I did. As a product management guy, this book is invaluable and does a wonderful job of clarifying essential methods for any startup to employ.

There are many activities that businesses can engage in to create new customers but there exists three main mechanisms of growth that determine the kind of activities that should be tried, tested and optimized.

Let me clarify that this post in no ways means to discuss how much value you are offering your customers. I want to zone in on the mechanism that makes businesses able to expand and continually offer their products or services to new customers.

Eric Ries does a superb job of summing them up in the following categories.

Sticky Growth: This refers to businesses that brings in new customers and grows by retaining them. They need to be focusing their attention on tracking the attrition or churn rate which is a fraction of customers in a defined period who no longer engage with the product.  If the rate of acquiring new customer is greater than the churn rate, it will grow.  An example of this would be a mobile phone service provider whose goal is for you to remain a customer for a long a possible, in contrast with a car manufacturer who is focused on selling you at least just one car.

Viral Growth: Refers to a product that creates new customers directly from the usage of current customers. Inherent in this growth strategy is that the product itself delivers the most benefit to a customer when shared with others. The most obvious example of this kind of product is a social network. The goal is to create a viral coefficient of at least 1 so that there is a continued rate of growth. Anything lower than 1 means the growth rate will slow down to an eventual halt.

Paid Growth: This refers to a business that needs to sell it’s product at least one time per customer but the cost of acquiring a new customer (CPA) is low enough that the business can afford to continue acquiring new customers while still generating profit.  So take two different companies, one sells a product for $1 and purchases sponsored links on Google Adwords with a CPA of $0.80, while the other sells a service that costs $100,000 and pays sales people a salary and purchases commercial slots on t.v. networks with a CPA of $80,000.  They both have the exact same rate of growth which is 20% of their revenue that is now left over to acquire new customers.  The CPA will be divided among different things depending on the business.  A car dealership will pay for commercials and commissions on the sales, whereas a cafe will try to plop itself in the middle of a highly trafficked tourist area where there is heavy foot traffic.  The CPA has to be deducted from the lifetime value of the customer (LTV) and the revenue will then be invested back into advertising, locations etc.

Here’s the thing about growth strategies… they are just as important as the quality and value of the product for each customer.  You can build an amazing widget but if you can’t optimize a growth strategy that continues without dumps of unsustainable advertising or offering incentives that you can’t afford to offer long term, you don’t have a winning business.

The lean approach comes in to this equation by forcing you to test the growth strategy before you purchase wear houses and fill them with your manufactured products, or lease a really expensive storefront.  You can apply the same thought to a new social network you dreamed up and spent 6 months coding.  If you haven’t yet gathered early adopters and tested whether your viral loop is functioning with at least some viral coefficient the you believe you can optimize, then you might not be ready to make the leap to hiring 2 more programmers “Facebook level salaries” just yet.

Another important factor to consider is whether you are focusing your efforts into one growth strategy or trying to accomplish multiple strategies at once.  It’s very tempting to look at your product concept and envision how it will work for this or that segment and but you should consider if you really have the resources to specialize in more than one growth strategy.   Technically speaking there are businesses that operate with more than one growth strategy but they are developed businesses that have had focused success and then developed the resources to utilize other approaches.  Having different growth mechanisms requires different operational expertise and if you are a startup then the likelihood of accommodating that is low.  A successful startup is one that found a market and created a product that offers value to them and creates a sustainable engine of growth.  That is huge success when that happens and there is no need to layer on confusion that will take away from your chances of hitting that win.



Will Niche Directories Survive?

With the fast approaching Social-mobile era is a new opportunity for niche internet directories to become the preferred locations for focused content. Surprisingly this arrises from the incredible success of everyone’s favourite behemoth search engine. Now that Google has been the place to go for so long the SEO’s have polluted it by learning how to manipulate their search placement. As awareness of search manipulation increases, trust of a Google search will continue to decrease. Currently 50% of searches that are not handled well by Google are taking place on “non-search” sites like Wikipedia, Match.com or Realter.com. Another major challenge for Google search is that in a few years the majority of computing will occur on mobile devices which is currently only 1% of Google searches. Considering that already half of all the internet connected devices fit into the palm of your hand, Google is very quickly becoming much less important. So, unless Google figures out how to offer a better search experience than focused apps offer, they will be left in the dust. Meaning, niche internet directories that have achieved their traffic from occupying top placement on Google searches are at risk because there will be less searches on Google due to decreasing trust and relevance as we move into the mobile era. But that does not mean there is no opportunity for them, rather they just have to find a new way to be found…Enters social networking features.

If a niche directory can offer value for joining their community, and sharing their community and content with others, then they can become the known and trusted place to go search for that specific content.Why would I go to Google to look for a retirement home when I can go to RetirementHomes.com? Only because I don’t know that it exists. But, once I’m aware that there is such a place I won’t waste my time with Google. The challenge for a lot of directories is that people only look for what they index once in a while, like retirement homes, or schools. These are decisions that are made only a few times in someones life time. As opposed to a local restaurant directory that someone could use 3 times a day. So if your only way of gaining traffic is via Google SEO then your days are numbered. However, that challenge totally vaporizes if you can create a community of industry stakeholders that connect about and around this specific industry. Those that are regularly affected as a stakeholder could have a reason to be active in a community very often.

So how is this done?

Step #1. Continuously give stakeholders content that helps them with their challenges in the industry.

Step #2. Build a social community that connects stakeholders to each other so they can benefit from each other’s knowledge and experiences.

Step #3. Constantly offer incentive for stakeholders to bring more stakeholders into the community.

I think it’s safe to say that Google search is going to be around for a while. That said, long gone are the days that a directory can keep growing by simply occupying good search rankings. You can’t ignore the social thing anymore. What Facebook does is what users expect. If Facebook decides to put their main navigation bar along the site of page, guess what, in a short time the entire world will be used to that and then you will only benefit from doing the same. There is a reason why Google+ and now Twitter look almost identical to Facebook. So, why aren’t you creating social features? The whole world is used it… what are you waiting for?

Now, you might be asking yourself, “why would someone connect with a community on my site when they already connect with people on facebook?” To answer that question, you have to ask another… what is the purpose of Facebook? By no means do I think it’s time for you to invest in a product that competes with Facebook. That would be stupid. The social networks are created and there is no room for another Facebook competitor. Leave that feature fight for Twitter and Google+ who are trying to fulfil the same purpose as Facebook. As long as you are solving a problem that Facebook isn’t solving then there is no competition. Two websites can have identical features but if they have different purposes then there is no competition happening. Take Linkedin for example. People go there to network on a professional level. It’s an online resume, job fair, and networking event all wrapped into one and given a healthy does of steroids. It even has some very similar features to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ but none of the big three can fulfill the purpose that drives over 150,000,000+ people to Linkedin. It’s too specific for them to touch. Have you ever given someone a job reference on Facebook? Probably not because it would be totally useless, and potentially harmful to someone’s career.
If you are a niche directory you are by definition fulfilling a unique purpose and social features, if done well, will only help. Oh, ya… and make sure it is accessible on a mobile app too!


What marriage teaches you about product development.

Today I was brought to a fascinating realization.  Finding your soul mate is very similar to creating a great product.  How?  Well, it’s a little known secret that finding your ideal partner is actually a process of understanding and developing yourself to the point that you can recognize your ideal match.

Take an average singles scene where unfortunately the shiny, sexy exterior is what motivates a lot of unfortunate people to base their dating choices on.  Now don’t get me wrong, like any new website, oops I mean person, you need some initial attraction to peak your interest but if it’s no good under the hood then your relationship won’t last.  So too with a web product.  You might be able to get people onto the site to poke around a little but unless you are offering users real value don’t expect them to come back and you certainly shouldn’t expect to achieve any viral reach.

This analogy can really be applied to anyone who is into self-development of any kind. Thinking back to the product managers I know I realized that like me, they are always the ones with the self-help books lying around.  We’re always trying to find the most impactful places to make improvements.  We’re always asking the questions like, How can this be more efficient? What would make this experience better? etc…

So here is something I’ve learnt in recent years after getting married and moving back to Toronto to focus my efforts as a social and viral web business developer.  No matter what area of your life you are trying to improve, whether it’s your attitude, your marriage, or your website, focusing on purpose and and values will always offer the best results.

Hiring 101

My mind has recently been blown by Dave Ramsey, yet again, for the 100th time.  I was reading his newest book titled “Enterleadership” which is a practical guide for managing a business.

His approach, like always, is extreme but it just makes so much sense to me, who is coming from a company that uses the exact opposite approach, and pays dearly for it time and time again.

His strategy is to give a potential team-member 6 to 10 interviews over the span of 3 months before finally offering them a job.  When reading this initially I was like, “ya, thats just way too much” but when I considered that by the time I put someone through such a hiring process, and I still want them, and they still want the job, they are here to stay.  For good.

I mean honestly, do you really want to try someone out on the job?  Why?  When you can try them out at no cost to you before they even start.

And more importantly, why do employers try to cast a wide net when posting job descriptions and trying to collect resumes?  This really makes no sense at all.  When you put up a job posting you need to think about what your goal is.  Do you really want to get a large stack of resumes to toil over or would you prefer that the wrong people get enough information to take themselves out of the running.  Do you really want to interview a bunch of people who aren’t even in the ball park?  Of course not.  So make your job description really really clear and as long as you need to.  You should be trying to get as few resumes as possible, but from the right people who are really looking for the job you have to offer.

I just spent the entire day yesterday helping a fellow manager in his task of interviewing 30 candidates for a sales job.  Out of 30 there were only four that I would even consider giving a second interview.  So why did I have to waste my time with the other 26.  If the job description was written properly I would have interviewed only 4 people and could have gotten to the other more important things I had to do.

Do yourself a favour the next time you have a position to fill.  Start the process well before you are desperate to fill the position, and take enough time to weed out the people you don’t want. Hiring and replacing someone is far more costly then putting the proper care and attention into hiring the right person once.

And read Dave Ramsey’s book “Entreleadership” it’s awesome!