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  • Evan Ryan

Successes & Failures

seconds and cents. Today we're going to talk about successes and failures. This pertains to me personally in my life. But I've spent a lot of time this week on successes, on failures on kind of growing successes and on turning down failures, shutting down failures, recognizing them, and kind of accepting them for what they are. And what's been very interesting in my life is that lately, the successes and the failures have diverged quite a bit. The successes have gone straight up, and the failures have gone really far down. And at least for me, I have very little patience when it pertains to struggling through failures. I don't have patience when it pertains to struggling through challenges and obstacles. But when I stopped seeing a bigger future, and something I really am hard pressed to continue pressing on, I have to know that a bigger feature exists in order to in order to continue pressing on through failures. And it's not to say that I don't like to fail or that I don't fail often, I feel all the time, at lots of different things. It feels like that is actually my full time job. And then being an entrepreneur is just like, that's just part of being entrepreneur. But what I mean is, when I lose the vision for a failure, when the vision becomes no longer inspiring, the obstacles feel insurmountable. When the vision for the future is very inspiring. When I continue to love it, the obstacles feel like they're just regular, everyday obstacles. And so we're going to talk about successes and failures. Today, we're going to start with the successes, actually. So we have a business unit that finally reached product market fit. We've had more inbound clients inbound interest than ever before, by a lot, and we very well could 10 times our revenue in this business in like 120 days. Now, we've been working for several years to find product market fit. And we've been messaging and we've been telling our sales strategy, we've been tailoring the product, we've been making sure that we make relationships with the right people, but ultimately it all hit at once. And just the clients came I wish there was a formula to finding product market fit. This is actually the reason why I'm kind of doing this podcast today is because we found product market fit with the business unit. We spent three years talking to people. We spent three years working on the messaging working on the strategy working on the marketing, debating whether or not people liked what we were offering them. We spent three years overcoming obstacle after obstacle not only in building and marketing and building and servicing the product, but in marketing and sales and client relations and customer success, making sure that we knew what it would take to make our customers successful. trying out different market segments trying out different pricing strategies. We spent three years with obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. It all hit at once. If you asked me, How did we do it, I would not be able to tell you. I worked in this business every single day. All I know is that it was 10,000 iterations. We tried this thing. It didn't work. We tried this thing, it worked better than the thing that we currently have that so then that became our best practice. And then we tried another thing. And we basically just tested and tested and tested every single component over and over again, maybe we need to talk about the messaging this way. Maybe the value is really this, maybe the pricing is really x or y or z, maybe we need to simplify whatever we need to simplify. Maybe we need two different versions of our products. We need a higher level version of our product for more sophisticated, more technologically savvy clients and we need a lower level version of our product for people that just don't have the technical sophistication. Or they don't have the resource needs. Not every business not every client is in the same place. Some of our clients are huge, huge, huge companies. Some of our clients are very small, one person two person shops. We can help all sizes of clients inside of this business but they need they have very different needs. Maybe they just need different products or they need different ways to use our products.

Finding product market fit I found to be ABS Totally fascinating and motivating. Why? Because we have an explosion of customers, we get to make a whole lot of people successful. There's nothing that I love more than making customers successful. But the important thing for me in the future and for any entrepreneur is I have no idea how he did it. I could not go back and draw a straight line. Well, this decision led to this decision led to this decision led to this decision, I know what the keys are. The keys are we accepted that we had different clienteles, we had two different levels of customers, some customers that are big, national, or multinational corporations, and some customers that are a little mom and pop shops, one person shops. we simplified our pricing. we simplified our messaging strategy. And we focused our messaging, a lot more on the pain and less on the opportunity. Now, we certainly focus on the opportunity. But what we stopped selling was we stopped selling radical transformation. And we started, we started selling a solution to just a couple of small problems that our clients face. Really, I think it was the right thing to because our product, our this product isn't Superman, it, it's not saving the world. But it is solving some very specific

problems.

And it is helping our clients grow their businesses without needing to spend time on it. And so when we really narrowed in, here's who we are, here's who we serve, this is the price. And this is the specific problem we know that you have. And we know we can help you solve. Instead of saying we're going to help you transform the world, made everything easier that said I could not go back and I could not do a roadmap. I cannot say these are the steps that you need to take in order to find product market fit, especially in the tech business where your tech can be really far advanced relative to everybody else in the world and where what they currently think that they want. Interesting because now we're successful. And we're becoming more successful.

But I couldn't tell you how.

Let's talk about failures.

And interesting thing about failures. And I spent a lot of time on Monday thinking about failures. And a lot of times so far today I know exactly why I was succeed, or why I failed at the things that I failed that one of the things I'm thinking about as I'm thinking about the pizza app, the pizza app is a business that we had several years ago, where we this was kind of before toasts became really popular. We had and before square really branched into the into the online ordering space. So this was before toasts started sending out mobile apps to all of their clients and before square got really into the into the mobile order and the online order space for restaurants. There really wasn't a way for mom and pop pizza restaurants, the 1234 or five location, pizza restaurants, to compete with Domino's or donatos, or Pizza Hut or any of those big chains because those big chains were pouring billions of dollars into getting mobile apps built. And those mobile apps were just crushing it. But mom and pop shops can't can't pour billions of dollars in Oh. And so we had an idea. And it was, Well why don't we build one template mobile app, and then we'll just import their menus. And then the restaurant can have their own mobile app. We have one template we have we'll sign up a bunch of different pizza restaurants. And then they can just import their menu and then they have a mobile app and they pay us a subscription fee. business failed. I still maintain I think it was a good idea. But the business failed. And I'll tell you why the business fell. First of all, I didn't understand the restaurant business. The restaurant business sells food and they sell experiences. Well when a restaurant launches a mobile app. Now they're also selling a mobile app. And they experience changes because now you're no longer getting on the phone and calling the pizza restaurant. You're no longer walking in and ordering a slice you're ordering on an app like you would at Starbucks. It's a very it's a very Such an impersonal experience, especially if you just go through the drive thru window, you've already paid through the app. And so you just pick it up.

So I didn't understand the restaurant world I didn't, especially the mom and pop restaurant world, it's very different than the dominoes donatos these kind of big franchises that really have a system for everything. And they are relatively and personal. I mean, think about the the local Papa John's, do you know people at the local Papa John's? Probably not. But do you know people at your local restaurant that you frequent, probably, totally different experience. The second thing was I didn't care about being a hero to the client. And this is a difficult thing to say. But it's true. The clients that we had in the pizza app business, were not big ambition entrepreneurs. They were entrepreneurs. But they weren't looking to build businesses that change the world. Or that had 1000s of customers or 10s of 1000s of customers. They weren't looking to solve global grand challenges.

And those are the types of people that I just love to serve. I love to serve entrepreneurs with ambitions that are much, much bigger than their capabilities. entrepreneurs that are just always growing. They're looking for the next opportunity that they have to make a difference for their existing customers, or for a new customer base. I love it. I mean, it's just the most, it's just the most fun thing in the world for me, is to help entrepreneurs that are really looking to grow, like transformational grow. And we didn't have that many customers in the pizza app business. But they weren't that tight. They would tell you that I still keep in contact with one of my clients. I ordered one of those pizzas yesterday.

And so I know exactly why I failed at that business. There are many businesses that I failed that I know exactly why I failed. I failed because I was bad at it. And I failed because I didn't care about being a hero to the client. Now let's contrast that to the business that just found product market fit and it's starting to take off. I love serving the client. I love it. I love the problem that we're solving. I think it's a huge problem. And I think that we can really be a hero to our clients. And we're good at it. We have partners who really understand the customer. They understand what the needs are, they understand the pain points, they understand the messaging, they understand how the difference that they understand the difference that we're going to make. We have clients who are really interested in our success, because they know that our success and their success are aligned. And we have a customer success strategy that allows us to be able to make sure that our customers are successful. And the more successful they are, the more successful we are.

So we're good at it. Especially because of our partners. And we really care about being a hero. That kind of brings me to the last point. There are two things that really provide lots of fulfillment for me, they provide lots of meaning in my life. The first thing is growing in any aspect of my life. As long as I'm growing, I'm unbelievably fulfilled and satisfied. Now, growing does not mean self improvement. So it's not that I'm creating prescriptions for myself based off of some shortcomings that I think I have and my focus in on growth is to just overcome the shortcomings that way it's a means to an end. No, it's literally just the process of growing, of expanding capabilities of becoming healthier, of doing whatever it is that is going to kind of help me develop into kind of the most of myself that I can become. I love growing. It's absolutely the activity that brings me the most joy The second thing that really provides a lot of fulfillment, a lot of meaning in my life is being useful. I really enjoy being useful to people, I really enjoy being useful to my clients, and building products that are really useful to my clients, I really enjoy being useful to my team, helping them out doing the things that I'm really good at, to help them do the things that they're really good at.

And in our successes, it's forced me to our successes have forced me to grow and allow me to be useful. Even through the obstacles, I can grow, I can become more of myself, as a company, we can become more of ourselves. And we can really discover who we are and who we're becoming. And we can be really useful to our clients and our failures. That's not the case. There's no growth because oftentimes in our failures, it's a short term business. It's one where we have a cap, we have an end date, or we have a we will be successful when or we will shut this down when mentality. Oftentimes It comes with just money.

And while we can be useful to our clients, we're not useful in the way that I want to be useful

to them. I want to be useful in ways that transform lives. And in a lot of our failures. Either our clients don't want them don't want us to transform their life

or the ways that we can be useful are just another product in the market.

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