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The Signal

Business analysis and trends to help entrepreneurs like you stay ahead of the curve

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Date Published: 
May 12, 2020


Highest open rate I've achieved so far last week at 63.7%. I cleaned a few email addresses before the mail went out and that seemed to help.

Happy to see that those who are reading are getting some value. I had two encouraging replies last week. Thank you!

🎵 Workout Playlist: I'm compiling one. If you know a bit about me, you'll know I spend a bit of time exercising. So I've spent a bit of time listening to work out songs. It's on Spotify. If there's decent interest I'll add an Apple Music one next week. Reply to this if yah want access - it's free, obviously.

🔗 Last week's most clicked link was a super in depth Quora post which breaks down Huckberry's email marketing strategy.

PS: New section added this week: The Startup Corner.


// Valuable tidbits from around the interweb.

Here's a thread of super successful businesses that have a surprisingly low number of employees. This comes off the back of Airbnb announcing thousands of layoffs of it's - get this - 12 000+ strong workforce. I knew it was big, but that seems super bulky!

To put it in perspective, Instagram sold to Facebook for $1 billion USD when it had just 13 employees. That's roughly $76 Million USD per employee versus Airbnb's roughly $3 million (pre-COVID internal valuation of $35 billion USD).

🛫 On the Airbnb front, they laid off over 25% of their work force after the events industry has been ground to a near-halt as a result of COVID-19. Brian Chesky was praised for the manner in which the company dealt with the lay-offs. Here's his letter. Employee's got minimum 14 weeks pay.

There's no easy way to handle layoffs - but Mr Chesky has provided a lesson or two on how to communicate effectively throughout that process.

🧾 One thing I've learnt recently is the value of legally binding documents, and paying attention to contracts & t's and c's. Avodocs gives you free legal documents for startups.

💡 Another gem from David Perrell: A Hacker News thread on the topic of: One Idea That Changed Your LIfe. Worth the read.

🤯 I've been all over the place recently. It feels like I'm starting 20 tasks a day and finishing 2 of them. It's a cause of a huge amount of anxiety for me. After last week's edition on productivity, I continued reading to find out more about the best way to get things done and stay focused.

I'm busy designing some simple free To-Do templates. You can get 'em free from here. I've been using them for three days, and so far the results are great. I focus on one task at a time and have way less stress that I'm not achieving anything.

A Byte

// A byte of something useful. As tasty as a choc-chip cookie, but better for you.

How to Get Your Business Noticed With Little To No Marketing Budget
(This is an excerpt from an article I wrote which has now amassed 500k + reads. You can get the full version here.)

I started an online clothing store in a very niche sector when I was in university.

I had $0 to invest in the business when I started it and three years later sold the company to a multi-national for a low 6-figure amount. Not much — in the big scheme of things, but 6-figures more than what I invested in the business.

I was studying at the time, and that money provided me a bit of runway after leaving university to decide what I wanted to do with my life.

I did this all off the back of building good relationships — especially with my customers. Because I had absolutely no money in the beginning to assign to marketing, I had to do something else which would differentiate me from my competitors in the industry — which were mostly international brands with big marketing budgets.

So I turned my customers into my biggest marketing asset, through intentional relationship building.

Here’s the story of how.

At the core of every business is relationships. Relationships make businesses tick. That’s why some people place so much value on networking.

All businesses require relationship management. You have to manage them both internally and externally to be successful.

A company without happy, driven employees is no business that will last.

Of 101 failed startups in 2019, 23% cited a poor team as part of the reason their business failed — if not the main reason.

Similarly, a company without loyal, satisfied customers is no business that will even get off the ground.

Of those 101 failed startups, 42% cited no market need as part of the reason their business failed — the most frequent reason given.

You might be thinking, there was no market need for their product, so they didn’t have any customers, so relationship management was not the reason they failed.

I disagree.

Part of scoping market viability for your business is ensuring you have willing, buying customers from the get go. If you have not validated the need, that means you’ve failed at establishing important relationships from the start.

This article looks at a quick way you can drastically improve customer, employee and third-party contractor relationships and make sure your business sets itself apart from its competitors. There is a quick tip at the end for turning first-order clients into long-time loyal customers.

Read the full article on How to Get Your Business Noticed With Little to No Marketing Budget here.

The Startup Corner

// A business I'd start right now.

☕ Coffee Culture

You've probably heard the saying: Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, behind oil.

It's not. But it is very popular. Coffee consumption in the US alone is estimated at around 450 million cups per day. More than half the population that is over the age of 18 drinks at least one cup per day. The average is 3.5 cups per day.

As people realize the health and performance benefits of coffee and it gains popularity, an underground culture of hyper-interested coffee-drinkers is emerging.

Have a look at the trend for the keywords "pour over coffee"

The opportunity: Create a bespoke coffee community.

As people consume more coffee, they become more picky about what coffee they drink. Instant coffee was the first wave, then came Starbucks which popularized paying $2+ for a brewed coffee.

The next step is a move towards artisan brewing methods as people discover the joys of drinking different types of coffee, brewed in different ways.

I'd do this: Start a blog. Create content about coffee for beginners and enthusiasts. Create online content for home brewing methods and kits. Find a partner who can create products for you and start selling do-it-at-home kits for everything coffee-related.

Create a loyal audience - then monetize. Start now, and when the wave really hits, you'll be perfeclty positioned.

This is something that could be a lot of fun.

A Quote

// Because there's always someone smarter than you in the room.

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.

You can get a free wallpaper version of this here.

An Action

// Idea's are great, but sometimes you need someone to kick yah butt into gear.

Do a day audit. Are your obligations during the day real? Do they drive you towards your 5 year plan? If no, is it 100% absolutely necessary that you do them?

My day audit always starts out with designing the perfect day. 45 minute sprint blocks, eating time, admin time, exercise time, rest time and enjoyment time. I then compare that periodically to what my day's actually look like.

A periodic re-alignment towards your perfect day might be necessary.

The End Notes

// I know, I know. I can almost hear you saying "Don't go, don't go."

That's it for this week.

Next week is our once-monthly startup idea deep dive. May was the $10 000 per month eBook business.


If you've found this interesting, valuable or entertaining, a few of your friends might too. Please forward on to them. Seriously, please do. I'll say a very nice thank you.

See yah next week, thanks for reading!

- Simon

PS: As always - I'd appreciate your feedback, please? (or you can just reply to this)