I (soft) launched a new business, Lead Beacon, in April 2021.
As with any new business, I experienced some wins, many challenges, and lessons learned (often the hard way).
For context: Lead Beacon helps agencies find new clients through job postings. We scan job boards for positions an agency’s service could replace and provide the decision-makers contact information.
Month 1 Wins
Signed our first paying customer and now approaching $1k MRR!
The leads we’ve generated for customers are already converting into sales! (this is by far the most exciting thing that’s happened in Month 1)
The internal sales process was well-defined from day 1 and largely automated thanks to tools like MailChimp, Typeform, Zapier, Airtable, Calendly - resulting in efficient calls with prospects!
Interest was higher than expected -> I posted the request for feedback in only a few online communities I’m in and within the week my calendar was booked with calls. I think the messaging and offer resonated well.
Bandwidth: While a lot of interest was great, I was stretched pretty thin across sales and delivery. A lot of interest came in at the same time so it was pretty full-on during the first few weeks. I think as we reach a bit higher MRR, I’ll likely make our first hire to help out on lead generation/delivery.
Documenting processes: Looking towards the first hires, I am trying to document and templatize anything that I do 3+ times. I’m using Notion which is great, but I’m finding that everything I’m doing is taking 5x longer as I’m trying to record the steps in an SOP as I do them. There have been times where I’ve abandoned the documentation because I just didn’t have time.
Converting Free Trials: The conversion rate from Free Trial to paid subscriber is not where I want it to be. I think I may have been a bit too liberal in my qualification for the Free Trial or have not set expectations regarding the response rates from the Free Trial leads. I think there is room to optimize and push the conversion rate up.
Manual vs. Automated: As we’re still in the early phases of product development, the current lead generation process is part manual, part automated. Obviously as the client base grows we’ll need to either hire or automate to be sustainable. I’m oscillating between which approach is best for us especially in the early stage as I believe one of our key differentiators is the personalization and lead filtering process that we provide to our clients.
True North: There is no shortage of places to invest your time, especially early on. From making website updates to conducting outreach and automating processes, if you don’t have a strong hold on what specific activities will move the needle you’ll likely toil in needless tasks. While I had many days where I fell into that trap, my true north for Month 1 was to validate/invalidate the assumptions I laid out in my initial product hypothesis. Seeing decisions through this lens helped me understand what to spend time on.
Managing the Ups/Downs: Especially with a newer product, managing the affirmations vs. rejections is a challenge. Some days I felt like I really had something, others I felt like this may never work. Staying level is essential.
Don’t Pre-Optimize the Tech: Let demand drive what you automate and build next. Trying to stay away from the “shiny object” and seeing the feedback objectively was challenging but I think steered me in the right direction (so far).
Fill out the first “cohort” of clients: I’ve set an internal goal of keeping the first wave of customers small (in the 5-10 range). I want to grow intentionally and provide an incredible, personalized service and I hope limiting the client base early on will help facilitate that. So my initial focus will be to continue finding the right first few clients and focus my time/effort on generating next-level outcomes for that small group of clients.
Refine the Delivery Process/Hire(?): As the initial client cohort fills out, I need to further refine the lead generation process and automate repetitive tasks without losing the personal touch. This may include adding a few more part-time folks to the team.
Marketing Materials: While the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd priorities right now are centered around client outcomes, I know that I’ll need to capture the value we’re creating for future sales efforts. Based on experience (with other entrepreneurial ventures), it’s typically much easier to record and package those positive results as they happen rather than in-post. I’m aiming to create case studies (with client permission) of the sales generated and update the website to speak more towards the results we are creating for our early clients.
Thanks to all of the folks who provided feedback previously and I’m looking forward to providing more updates as the journey continues!