TAM 003: Designing Your Business For Growth with Dan Norris

TAM 003: Dan Norris – Designing Your Business For Growth

Dan Norris 7 Day Startup - ActiveCampaign

In episode 3, we talk with serial entrepreneur Dan Norris founder of WPCurve a popular WordPress support service.  This week we talk about how to design your business for growth.

Dan has had, and continues to have, a very interesting entrepreneurial journey. Along the way he has been very open with his successes and failures, sharing everything with his fellow business owners.

He has chronicled some of that journey in his book “The 7 Day Startup“. The book is a great read for anyone thinking about taking starting an online business. Even if you have an established online brand, you can still pick up some great insights into what to focus on and what to ignore on your quest for business growth.

We chat about

  • Starting a business
  • Deciding on price
  • Customer churn
  • Focusing on the right thing at the right time

If you want to give ActiveCampaign a try, you can set up a free trial account here.

If you want to take your sales funnel and marketing automation skills to the next level, join us at The Active Marketer Academy my private mastermind and coaching community where we share all the good stuff!

Inside you will find, courses, live training calls, quick wins, shared automations and a helpful community of smart business owners and service providers just like you. Check it out here.

Active Marketer Academy


 

Links Mentioned In The Show

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Dan Norris and Barry Moore – Transcript

Barry Moore: Alright, welcome to Dan Norris. Dan, how are you today?

Dan Norris: I'm great, thanks. How are you?

Barry Moore: Good, thanks. We're at opposite coasts, here. I'm up at the sunny coast; Dan's down on the gold coast. It's not really the sunshine coast today up here. I don't know what it's like down there.

Dan Norris: Much the same. I was up there two or three weeks ago, actually. I like the sunshine coast. Haven't been there much since we moved to the gold coast, because it used to be just as quick from Brisbane, but now it's like three hours for me to get there. Nice spot.

Barry Moore: Fair enough. I wanted to get Dan on the show today to talk about a few things. One of the things I really like about Dan is his kind of entrepreneurial journey and how open he is in sharing that journey with everybody else. And plugging away all these years and months and trying to really fulfill his entrepreneurial journey and finally kind of struggling with Informly and then hitting it out of the park with WP Curve. So, first of all, congratulations with all of your success over there. That's really great to see.

Dan Norris: Yeah, thanks. It's still early days, but it's been an amazing year. That's for sure. Last year was…I sat down and wrote a summary of last year and what I'm planning on this year, and it's just a really, really good time. I'm really excited about this year. I think it's going to be huge.

Barry Moore: Yeah, for sure. And the WP Curve journey, for those of you that aren't familiar with it, is probably a journey that any entrepreneur would be happy to go on. So, I thought we might talk about that a little bit. Starting with, maybe tell us a little bit about how you kind of, not necessarily wound down Informly, but jumped from Informly over to WP Curve?

Dan Norris: Yeah, well I spent a year working on a software product that really no one wanted. At least not enough people that I could get to wanted to pay me for, which is the most important thing. I really didn't want to get a job, although, I was thinking the other day how my absolute worse-case scenario was getting a job and a lot of people around the world that would be their absolute best-case scenario.

So, it's never really that bad in Australia, but in my head, getting a job would have been the worst thing in the world after being an entrepreneur for seven years. So, out of desperation, I launched WP Curves. I did it in like a week and for whatever reason, I think it had a lot of the elements of a good idea and it had the right audience for it. Through luck or whatever else, I was sort of the first person to do this idea of unlimited wordpress jobs for a fixed price each month, which is sort of everywhere now. But 18 months ago, I think we were the first people to do that. And it just took off. I mean the first week, we had ten people sign up and every week since we've had about that many and even more recently. We're up to about 750 customers after 18-19 months.

Barry Moore: How did you first get the idea for WP Curve? Was it just talking to other people in your circles of friends?

Dan Norris: Not really. It's sort of hard for me to know exactly where my ideas come from because I listen to a lot of…I pay attention to a lot of start ups and what they're doing. I watch things like “This Week in Start Ups” and entrepreneurial forums and I listen to lots of podcasts every day. Every hour of every day, I'm thinking about businesses, so I think the WP Curve idea probably came from a range of different places.

One is startups that were emerging around the idea of doing small fixes for websites. The other one was just my audience and constantly emailing my audience each week and having people ask me all the time, how do they fix these problems and I wasn't in a position to help them. Also, just the values that I've had in the past around, like I definitely didn't want to start an agency. I kind of knew the pitfalls of that model and I wanted to bring some of the high growth start up type elements through, into whatever business I started.

I had to go with services because I had no time left. I had a couple of weeks before I had to get a job, so I kind of just combined all that and came up with the idea of doing a monthly unlimited…the unlimited idea was really just based on the idea that people don't want to abuse the service and get 50 jobs each month, but people also don't want to have to make that…they don't want the uncertainty.

Barry Moore: Yeah, right. Like if I only get five jobs this month, should I send this one in or not.

Dan Norris: Before that it was people who did the monthly plan thing, it was like you'd get five jobs a month or whatever. After that, you get x. If the job is bigger than 30 minutes then we do a quote and you pay a couple hundred bucks. With WP Curve, I just said it will be a monthly fee. It will be unlimited, so you don't have to worry about that. The price won't change. If there's any jobs outside that, we don't even do them, we won't quote them. It's just this is a service. For whatever reason, that kind of resonated with people.

Barry Moore: Yeah. Really good. Do you think one of the reasons it's been so successful is the flat-out simplicity of the whole thing?

Dan Norris: Yeah. I'm thinking more and more about this. I talked about this quite a lot in my book. About the different elements of having like a high-growth business idea.

One of them is just the fact that it's simple and referable, but I think a better way to put it, which is a quote I picked up from “The Prophet” the TV show is: Brands should be conversational. I think that quote kind of sums it up in that people, we grow through word of mouth, so we come up in conversation because people see us all over the place.

Also, it's a concept that people find to be quite easy to understand and to tell people about. So, it's a simple brand with a simple idea. It's very easy to understand. I was looking at a post yesterday about the top 100 word press related companies or something, and the description of what WP Curve was was shorter than pretty much everything else.

Barry Moore: It's easy to explain to somebody. Just look at your wordpress site: 30 minute jobs, $69 a month. When you hear about that model, you think, well, of course, is nobody else doing that? Oh, my God. What a brilliant model it is.

Dan Norris: A lot more people are doing it now.

Barry Moore: Well, for sure. As you said, you were a bit under time pressure there to get WP Curve off the ground, so did you really design it to be scaleable from the beginning or was it just like, “I've just got to get something out there and I'll figure the rest out later.”?

Dan Norris: No. I would've gotten a job before I would have started a business that I couldn't scale. Grow might be a better word than scale. At 750 customers, we're hardly a high-scale business, but I definitely thought about the elements of like what startups look like and what is it about them that helped them grow. I wanted to build those things in as much as I could into the service.

I've written a lot about it since, particularly in the book. At the time, initially, I sort of thought, well, you can't run a service business in the way you run a startup, because services just can't be scaleable, but once I really thought about the different elements of what a scaleable business looks like, I sort of built those elements into WP Curve.

Things like making sure we have only really predictable recurring revenue, making sure we only do one small thing and don't be all things to all people, making sure we have a really referable message, like we were talking about before, making sure that we're fundamentally profitable.

I did a really basic calculation of how much I thought it would cost to have a customer, to look after a customer for a month, and then I doubled that to work out the price. To this day, it's more or less accurate, so there are some of the things that were going through my head at the time that have turned out to be pretty close to reality.

Barry Moore: And in those early days, I know a bit of the story from reading “The Seven Day Startup” but how long was WP Curve just Dan Norris and his mobile?

Dan Norris: I did launch with the promise of 24 hour service, which, again, was just about making people not needing to think about it. So, if you're in the US, and you've signed up with an Australian who's trying to support your website, the first you would think is well, when is this person online. Or, if you use an agency, and you send them an email, they're probably not online. They're probably asleep.

So, it needed to be 24 hours a day to sort of take that decision making process and that doubt and confusion out of it. Early on, it was just me with a mobile phone next to my head, like you said. I'm not sure how long. Alex came on board probably two months into launch. Actually, it might have been less than that, might have been like a month and half or something into when we launched. From that point, he looked after the US time zone and I looked after the Australian time zone. Since then, we've hired staff to do all of that, but back then it was just me and Alex manning the chat.

Barry Moore: Aside from you and Alex, when did you get your first kind of support person?

Dan Norris: I actually had a developer working for me before I started that was part of Informly and even part of my agency from like three years before. He's worked with me for years. I had him, which is good. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to fix any of these problems that people were submitting.

He's our lead developer and it's just really fortunate that I already had him. He's like the guy that we go to when no one else can solve the problem. It's lucky that I had him to start with rather than having someone who needed to escalate problems. But then again, I had him for years, and I've gone through a lot of developers to find him. And I looked after him.

Barry Moore: How long was it before you put on your second developer?

Dan Norris: That's a good questions. I don't know. I know I sort of estimated that we would need one developer for every 30 clients. Initially…and that's turned out to be more or less true. I think it's about one developer for every 25 clients at the moment. Because Andrew was so good, he was able to get through a lot more jobs than a typical developer. So, I think it was maybe like, maybe we got to 50 customers or something. So, maybe a couple of months before I needed to go out and get more developers.

Barry Moore: Cool. So, what other issues or bottlenecks do you run into in the beginning?

Dan Norris: There wasn't really, I mean, in the beginning we didn't really have any issues that we don't have now. All of the issues, really we only have three issues that I can think of.

One is constantly trying to work out how to improve the service. The other is hiring in the US time zone. It's easy for me to hire in Asia Pacific, because I've done that before and I can get good developers in places like the Philippines. But hiring in the US has been more difficult. And the other is retention. How do we keep people who sign up to get a problem fixed, how do we keep them paying each month and giving them value each month? So, that's sort of the three things.

Retention I didn't really think about too much for the first six months because it wasn't really clear that that would be something I'd have to worry about. We found a good developer pretty early on in the US, but we haven't really found too many more. And the service quality again, as we grow, we've grown to 31 people in 18 months. That just becomes a harder problem to solve the more you grow. These have kind of been themes that we have been working on for a while.

Barry Moore: So have you grown into having multiple layers now, or like are there team leaders? Or is it just you and Alex and then all the developers?

Dan Norris: No, there's team leaders. Alex has Julie, who's the team leader over in the US. And I've got Michelle over in the Asia Pacific area to manage that team, sorry to manage the Asia Pacific team. But even that is probably too much because we're sort of getting around to 15 developers on at any one time. It's sort of tough.

We're sort of stuck between a traditional and like more of a…I guess between a traditional business and a 100% remote business. There's different things that work for those types of businesses and we're sort of in the middle trying to work out what we do. Like, do we do one-on-one team meetings with every individual staff member? Or, do we just communicate via slack?

Do we have a traditional management structure or do we have a live management structure where whoever's online at the time fits into a certain structure when they're online and that might change depending on when they work. Those kinds of things are our issues that we have to deal with because we run 24 hours a day and because we're 100% remote. We're still sort of figuring all that stuff out.

Barry Moore: My other question was around, now that you're getting to that level where there's team leaders and a bigger team, like 30 people. Is that adding to the cost base and will $69 per month still be a viable fee for what your cost base has become or is becoming?

Dan Norris: Well, there's probably two ways to answer that. The first is that this is not unplanned. These are calculations that I considered when we came up with the pricing. We've always estimated that for each x amount of developers, we would have x amount of management overhead. So, it's a small percentage and whether or not we can actually stick with that as we grow, from 30 developers might be one thing, but with 300 or 3000 developers…

Barry Moore: One of us dropped out there, not sure who that was, but doesn't really matter. You had just started answering that question about the overheads and them being planned for. Do you want to pick it up from there?

Dan Norris: Yeah. Did you hear the first part of the question about planning? About having planned for that already?

Barry Moore: Yes. But then about halfway through your answer it dropped out.

Dan Norris: So, there's probably two answers to the question.

One is I had planned a management percentage into that planning originally. So, I had made some assumptions around how many developers we had and whether we would need a team leader for that many developers and how much that would cost. So that was sort of all built into the pricing. But the other thing..there's a few things that have happened since that will put our costs up.

One is we're thinking about having people to do…well we're thinking about a bunch of different changes. One is a higher level plan that gives people something that they're not currently getting on the standard plan. That will, to run that higher level plan, it's going to cost us more and therefore the price will be higher. But, I'm still hopeful we can keep the $69 plan.

The other thing is the way we structure the service at the moment, you can just sign up for one month and then leave if you want to. That has a big impact on retention and who signs up and why they sign up. So, that's probably something we'll experiment with to see if we can work out a better way of doing it than that.

Barry Moore: Yeah, I wanted to loop back to that retention issue that you mentioned before. Are you having a lot of churn? Or is it at a manageable level? And are you finding that you get a percentage of people who sign up and then find that they just don't use the business, use the service enough to kind of warrant staying there?

Dan Norris: Probably yes to all of those questions.

The churn is pretty high, but at the same time, churn is a really complex thing to measure. We aren't doing a really sophisticated job of measuring it at the moment. For example, if someone signs up and they just completely misinterprets what the service is and then the next day they cancel. That's considered churn in our calculation, whereas that's probably a totally different problem than are we actually providing value to our customers long term.

That might be a problem with the copy on the website. Or maybe it's too easy to sign up. Or it could be a bunch of different things. The first answer to churn is a complicated thing that we're still trying to measure and work out.

The second question about whether or not it's a problem. When we're growing as fast as we're growing, it's not a problem because we're growing much faster than we're churning. But, I think if you took churn out of the equation, we're probably growing by 20-30% per month, which may not be sustainable forever. At some point we're going to have to get it under control. And the third question about whether people request jobs and then figure they don't need the service anymore. That's probably broken up into two scenarios.

One is the customers who will still keep the service because they see it as insurance and when they do need it, they'll know we're there and they know they're a customer of WP Curve and whenever they have a problem they can ask, even if they don't ask for something each month. And then there's other people who sign up and if they're not using the service, they will leave. That again is a complex problem. It might be that they are the wrong customer. It might be that we haven't done a good enough job of suggesting jobs for them to do or maybe we're too generous in allowing people to leave every month. It's quite a complicated thing that we're sort of working through and testing different options to figure out what like a happy medium is.

Barry Moore: Are you tracking a customer out of how many jobs they submit? I guess you would. It helps guide or something. Is that right?

Dan Norris: Yeah. Part of our struggles at the moment are we are still trying to find a full time systems developer. We're building our own system. We've got our own dashboard for analytics. We've got the beginnings of a system for clients to log in to and for us to really be able to offer much better support than you can offer with an off the shelf support desk for this type of business.

Because our business is a bit weird. It's sort of in between help and projects. Like there's plenty of projects systems, there's plenty of help systems, but there's nothing really in between. So, I think we need our own system and we're working on that. Part of that is getting better metrics. We have a pretty basic understanding of like on average how many jobs people request and how many total jobs we do, that kind of thing. And we've analyzed manually churn customers versus staying customers and how many jobs they request and what sort of businesses they have and all that kind of stuff. But there's nothing that's really jumped out as being a really easy fix to kind of making everything perfect. I think it's kind of like an ongoing thing that we have to work on.

Barry Moore: I was just asking because I was wondering if maybe if you got some clients who aren't submitting jobs for two months, you could put them on some sort of nurture sequence that says, “Hey, did you know that this is the latest…these plugins have been updated and here's the latest thing and try to get them in to engage and use at least one or two jobs a month to try and just keep them engaged in the WP Curve kind of crowd, if you know what I mean.

Dan Norris: Yeah, we do that already and it's had moderate success. I think there's a better way we can do it. At the moment we just send a weekly tip. For our professional customers, we go in and we actually make a suggestion for what they can improve on the site and we go in and upgrade plugins and that sort of stuff, so they're getting something each month anyway. For the standard customers, we send an automated email each week with a different tip on something they can improve. But I think we can make that process a little bit better and we're working on how we do that.

Barry Moore: Cool. Has anyone ever taken advantage of the unlimited clause in the unlimited support?

Dan Norris: Yeah, there've been a few. There's sort of natural limiters to it.

So, there's, you can only request one job at a time and typically the turn around time will be sort of eight hours or so, which means if you're a normal person working a normal day and you request a job, it should get done that day, but it might be the next day, in terms of when you're online and when you're checking your emails and that kind of thing.

So, like, unless you're literally sitting there at your computer replying back, to request a new job exactly when that one closes, it's kind of hard to do more than one job a day.

So, there's that and there's also, for one website, so it would be really unusual for one website to have more than…I mean, we have that situations where someone's requested like thirty jobs in a month, but normally that is when they then have a live website and they're trying to use the service to build a site instead of support an existing site, and that's not something we support. So, if we see that happening, then we will just tell them that this is a service for existing sites, not for new websites.

Barry Moore: Fair enough. How did you decide on when you were doing your cost analysis and planning, like, what the customer to developer ratio is going to be. Is that just from experience at Informly?

Dan Norris: No, I guessed it originally based on how many jobs and how many problems someone is likely to have on their site, how many jobs they're likely to request each month, and how much fat needs to be built into the process. It's all well and good to say that a job is 30 minutes, but in reality, from start to finish and with back and forth and with project management and with logging in and all that kind of stuff, and with staff breaks and everything, it's probably going to be at least double that for the actual developer to do the job.

So, like a developer's probably not going to get through more than about eight jobs in one day. And looking at how many jobs, how many issues you typically have with a website, I guessed what it would be. And now after guessing it originally, what we do now is we look at the response times. And if we're slow, if we're below eight hours, then we'll hire again. And if we're really fast, then we don't need to hire again. It's so far, it's been around 25-30 customers per developer.

Barry Moore: Just looping back to that metrics bit. What do you consider your key metrics for the business?

Dan Norris: Probably a metrics for different things, but the main thing I'm looking at at the moment is we have monthly recurring revenue growth, which is what we report on in our monthly report.

So that's just a basic financial thing, we look at growth and I was just as excited when we were doing three grand a month but we were growing by 10% as I am now that we're doing 57,000 a month or whatever it is and still growing by 10%. Because the market is so big that if we can keep growing, it's going to be so much bigger than that that these numbers are all going to seem minuscule anyway. So, I focus on growth, not so much revenue.

In terms of the internal metrics, the one we probably focus on the most is the level of customer dissatisfaction, Which is someone closes a ticket, they click a little thing to say if they're happy or not, and if they're not happy it means you've done something wrong, so that's a number that I look at to try to improve. And then we also look at response time.

We have a …. all of this is automated/delegated in our system that we use to communicate with staff slack. Our systems go in there everyday and post the stats from HelpScout and from the various places to tell us what the previous day's satisfaction rate was, what the response, average response time is to tickets, which is the big one that we use for hiring. And, there's a whole bunch of other things that we're going to look at once we can build our own system and get the data in there. But churn is one thing that we look at in our current dashboard. We look at website visits and conversions. They're probably the main ones.

Barry Moore: With that unsatisfaction rating, is that just a survey that's coming out of HelpScout or whatever at the end of the job?

Dan Norris: Well, we do that four different things, well, maybe five different things to work at if customers are happy. The first is every job they have a link at the bottom of the job that says, “Are you happy?” Yes, no, or okay. Or something like that. Or, “How happy with this ticket?” Very happy, satisfied, or unsatisfied. So, that's the basic satisfaction metric that we report on in our monthly reports.

Then we did an annual survey at the end of the year to ask people a bunch of open questions about what would you do differently.

We have a Net Promoter school that goes out every quarter that asks people whether they'd refer us and if so why. And if not, why. And then we're also planning some customer development interviews where we chat with customers.

And then, also, just the general feedback that we get as part of running the business, whether it's by social media or email or by the slack channel. We have the tweets automatically coming into the slack channel, so all the teams see them. So, all of that kind of goes into whether we think customers are happy and sharing as well if people are staying, if they're leaving.

Barry Moore: Yeah, slack is a great tool, isn't it. I love slack.

Dan Norris: Yeah, we're pretty heavy users now. We've got I think 30 odd people in there and a whole bunch of different channels and a whole bunch of automations set up to do different things, so yeah, it's been great.

Barry Moore: That's very cool. So, back to the early days. Are there any lessons you learned that you weren't expecting?

Dan Norris: Not really. I think the lessons I learned were that I captured in the book are really about what I did wrong before starting WP Curve and what I did right starting WP Curve.

Not to say I did everything right, but they were probably the most lessons. WP Curve's gone very well, so it's kind of hard to say, we stuffed up this many things, but in terms of other businesses, I think the main lessons were just launch quickly, get paying customers quicker, focus on paying customers and not other entrepreneurs or other assumptions or what people are telling you they like about your idea.

Focus on branding and that thing about brands being conversational, so having like a really simple product and a brand that people can talk about and refer. Probably being patient as well. A lot of the benefit I'm getting now through all of my different businesses and content and whatnot, came because I was, I spent that year with Informly creating lots of content and not really getting any financial results, but being patient enough to wait for that momentum to build up is important, especially with something like content marketing, because it's just not the sort of thing that returns straightaway.

So that's something that I've definitely bought into. Like, I'm working on a business at the moment called “Hello-ify” which is a customer-support, live support chat app. And previously I would've launched something and been really disappointed if I didn't get ten paying customers in the first week or if I put up a bunch of content and I didn't get a bunch of people signing up to emails. But now, I think, especially with the content, I'm much more patient and I've kind of realized it's going to take a longer time before the content really starts to return its value, especially with stuff like Google indexing the site and starting to see it as an authority.

Like with WP Curve, the majority of our traffic now is with posts that were written a long time ago. And we start ranking in Google because the site's got authority and we have a handful of posts that drive the majority of the traffic that, sort of, over time have become valuable. So, definitely be patient, especially with content.

Barry Moore: I was going to ask you, have you ever done any paid advertisement for WP Curve? Or is it all kind of content marketing and word of mouth?

Dan Norris: No, the only thing we do is we have a really small ad roll budget, which is like $50 a month or something, which is really targeting and I don't really…

Barry Moore: Is that …?

Dan Norris: I couldn't even tell you. I think it's like switched on and I don't really check it. I just couldn't be bothered turning it off. But I haven't increased the budget because we don't need more people to sign up. But at the same time, I like the fact that we've got it all set up and it kind of can't hurt for people to be seeing the WP Curve brand and it's costing us next to nothing, so I just kind of leave it on. I sort of made a decision that our funnel is about word of mouth and content and press. And the other things we're good at. We're just not particularly good at paid advertising and I don't really want to be either.

Barry Moore: I think you hit the important word in that sentence is occasionally. I've seen people do retargeting and it just shits me. I saw this one brand. I had to look at their webpage and their website or something and their marketing has been following me around everywhere for weeks. Like, literally every time I open a computer, there it is. And it's now gotten to the point where it's just hurting their brand, rather than helping it, you know. I'm just like, I don't want to have to dive in and get rid of cookies on my machine just so I don't get harassed by somebody, you know what I mean. I guess…

Dan Norris: Yeah, I don't really want to annoy people too much, so that's part of the reason I don't increase the budget. I'm sure it's showing occasionally for people, but it's pretty rare for someone to tell me I saw one of your ads. But, a lot of the time it's kind of showing to…like I see a lot of retargeting ads for services that I already use, like infusion softs is one example. They're always trying to sell me or sign me up for infusion softs, but I've been using it and promoting it for years. They're retargeting me and they're ringing me and they're emailing me and I'm like oh, I'm already a customer, please stop.

Barry Moore: The other thing I wanted to loop back to is “Hello-ify”. I guess you must just be like an addictive over-achiever and entrepreneur that you've got this great business in WP Curve that's growing at a nice sizable rate and then, so of course, you're going to go off and start a couple more businesses. So what was your, I know you've got “Hello-ify” and you've also got the brewery stuff as well. What was the impetus behind “Hello-ify”?

Dan Norris: Well, that was just. There's a few things there.

One is that I really love working on software and Luke, who I work with, has been working on that for a year and was kind of keen to launch it. He's just working by himself and I guess in a situation where I was before where you're working on something yourself, and it helps to work with other people.

So, there's that and there's also I just, I like to work on stuff that I'm interested in and I think if I spent old age just working on the one thing, eventually I'd get bored. So, what I prefer to do with WP Curve is to work out what the problems are and how I can solve them or how the team can solve them. And do that as quickly as possible so the team kind of looks after a lot of what happens without me and the team's really good at actually following procedures and doing automated tasks that pop into their cue and that kind of stuff.

But I'm useless with that sort of thing, so it's sort of bad for the business if I work too much on it, but it's good if I can get in and set the processes up and work out where the problems are and kind of work on interesting solutions to these problems and that kind of stuff, which I do. But with any task, I end up getting bored, so my thing is trying to work out how to delegate it and we've done that with the content now.

I've got Carl managing the content and a lot of guest writers. And the systems and all that kind of stuff. My involvement is sort of like on the edges. And more like the really strategic fundamental stuff, me and Alex come to spend hours talking about is the stuff that we do. The operational stuff we don't really do, and the sales we don't do at all, so it's really just about working out where the big problems are, where the big opportunities are and how we build systems. God, I sound like a bloody, I sound like some sort of corporate person, but it is literally about writing Google Docs. I spend a lot of time writing Google Docs.

Barry Moore: Well that's it, you know. You want to own a business, not necessarily run a business. So, I think you're doing all the right things, fantastic to see that you can get it up and running, still be in there when you want to be in there, but still step away when you want to step away and look at other stuff. It's great.

Dan Norris: Yeah, and the “Hello-ify” stuff is really interesting because I think there's a really big opportunity with a couple of ways we're approaching it. Hopefully as that kind of stabilizes and we get more momentum with that, I think that toward the end of this year, it's going to be really interesting.

But it takes a long time to build and to market and to create a brand that people know about and people care about, so I think that one's going to be really good. And the beer stuff is really just started. It's fun and just kind of took off without any of us expecting it to. And it's still fun and always will be fun because it's beer.

Barry Moore: What do you attribute that kind of take off of the beer business to? Just your prowess at content marketing or?

Dan Norris: No, I think that it's the team is a really interesting group of people for one. So, there's three of us. Eddie is my best mate. He knows every person in the craft beer industry, knows everything about beer. And everyone loves him. So, he's like the exact sort of person you want to have. Like if someone's going to go into a bar and ask someone if they want to buy your beer, you want Eddie doing that. You don't want a sales guy. You want somebody like Eddie.

Barry Moore: Go out handling everybody, yeah.

Dan Norris: And Goves is an actual brewer and he's brewed probably most of the best beers that you can get in Queensland at any given time. So, we've got the advantage of actually being able to make good beer, which helps. And then I've got all of the online stuff covered and the branding and the content.

And the content in particular is not something people do a lot of, like those beer bloggers that write about beer and there's beer companies that put up blog posts about events they're launching or beers they're launching or whatever, but there's not that many beer companies that actually do content the way I think you should do content, which is to just write interesting stuff.

So, yes, it's just been a really good combination of three completely different skill sets and every step of the way, it's kind of resulted in magnified results that you wouldn't get if it was just kind of one person chipping away doing something.

Barry Moore: Very cool. I'm looking forward to getting down the gold coast soon and having a glass myself.

Dan Norris: I'd say there's a good chance we'll be at a bar up the sunny coast next year.

Barry Moore: Very cool. Give me a shout when that happens.

Dan Norris: It almost ended up there this year, but next year I think there's a very good chance.

Barry Moore: Looping back to WP Curve for a minute. So, if you were starting it again, knowing what you know now after what, a year and a half or so, WP Curve going, anything you'd do differently? Or do you think you used those seven years of entrepreneurial incubation to get it right the first time?

Dan Norris: Yeah, I don't think there's anything I'd do differently. There's things we've changed since starting, including things as big as the name, because the name was different when I launched it.

Barry Moore: What was it when you launched it?

Dan Norris: It was WP Live Ninja. We changed that. I don't actually think I would go back and change that. I think it was like a well-timed thing. It was a good idea to change the name when we did. It was a good idea to launch really, really quickly without stressing about the name when I did. So I don't actually think there's anything I'd really change.

Barry Moore: For those of you who don't know what book we're talking about. It's Dan's book “The Seven Day Startup” and I just finished reading that a couple weeks ago. It's a fantastic book if you're thinking of launching a business or if you're just an entrepreneur in general. One of the big, big, big things that I took out of that book was don't waste time solving problems you don't have yet.

Dan Norris: Yeah, and that's probably the part I'm answering in this part of the question in that there's things that we do now, like we've got a help desk system and we're building our own system and all this kind of stuff that arguably you could say we should have done at the start, but to me, the way we did it, in that we were just lean and we just solved the problems we had, knowing that we would have to solve this one eventually, but we solved it at a time when we had to, is a better way to do it.

Barry Moore: Yeah, for sure. It's easier to solve when you've got a monthly recurring revenue of $50-60,000 than when you don't have any.

Dan Norris: Yeah, but it gets you focusing on the right things too. Like, when you're first launching, you really probably don't want to be focusing on what help desk system you're going to use.

Barry Moore: For sure. Alright, Dan, I really appreciate your time today. We might wrap it up there. Anything you think I should have asked that I didn't?

Dan Norris: I'm never very good at answering that question. I'm only ever good at answering actual questions, so…

Barry Moore: Fair enough.

Dan Norris: I think you did a good job. Much better job than I could have done if I was talking to myself.

Barry Moore: Alright, Dan, if people want to know more about any of your businesses, where is the best place to find out?

Dan Norris: If you want to read the book, it's on Amazon. Search for “Seven Day Startup” or just look in the startups category. I've also got a Facebook group. If you put “Seven Day Startup” into Facebook, it should come up. There's I think 1100 people have joined that since I launched the book, so that's a cool way if you're thinking of launching a business to go in now and get a bunch of advice from people who have either done it or are currently doing it and be included. And then just all the different websites. I think people probably won't remember them if I mention them here, but maybe you can just put them in the Show Notes.

Barry Moore: Yeah, I'll link to everything we've mentioned in the Show Notes for sure. I want to highly recommend “The Seven Day Startup” as well, whether you're an entrepreneur or even just in a normal, kind of more standard bricks and mortar business. It's definitely worth a read and I really enjoyed it, Dan. It was great.

Dan Norris: That's great to hear. Thanks for saying that. And thanks for having me on the show.

Barry Moore

Entrepreneur, aviator and former eCommerce and technology executive, Barry Moore is the founder of TheActiveMarketer.com. When he isn't geeking out about how sales and marketing automation can help your business, you can find him in the surf or in an airplane.