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How to Acquire Your First 100 Customers (docs.google.com)
704 points by itsbenlee on Nov 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 123 comments

Or, better yet, thank the author himself by downloading it straight from his own website : https://first100.yobenlee.com/

Why do I need to give my name and email so I can be added to a mailing list before I can even see the content?

Obviously this isn't a problem because the submission has the content, as does the other commenter's direct link, but I just hate this sort of UX.

Let me see the value of your content (not a sales page) and if I really like it I'll subscribe to a mailing list after.

Why does the author have to write a book just to get your E-Mail? It's a transaction. Obviously as the consumer you would prefer having the upside without the downside. The same is true for the vendor.

We usually meet somewhere in the middle and call it a day.

GDPR would strongly disagree with you. Your personal information is not a currency and you should never be forced to part with in in exchange for goods and services. If you're worth dollars, you should be paying dollars.

You're not being forced at all.

According to GDPR you are. If your personal information is not required (from a technical standpoint) in order to use the service, you're not allowed to block access to the service if the user refuses to give you their personal information. That particular law is quite clear that requiring someone to give you their email address in exchange for digital goods that do not need your email address in order to function (like a PDF) is in violation.

GDPR may not apply depending on what jurisdiction this site falls under, but it sets the expectation for all digital goods anywhere in the world. If you're demanding someone's personal information as a currency rather than as a requirement, that is a scam.

If you want to make money, charge money. If you're not trying to make money, there's no need to require my email address in exchange for the product.

Interesting perspective!

Because my email is free of spam right now and I'd prefer to keep it that way, especially without a promise my email is not going to get sold around in a mailing list.

I also shouldn't have to research around to see if a website author is the "type" to sell my email around, that's bad UX.

In that case, you shouldn't expect this information for free.

If you want free stuff, you should be okay being advertised to.

Sure but there's no way to offer any actual money in exchange.

If the author didn't earn your trust prior to the exchange you won't convert to become his 100th customer and their content upgrade lost a potential customer. And if that's the case you're better off reading You've Got 8 Seconds.

You're right. IMO, there should be a "Download with your email OR pay $1 to access this file" option.

Offering a PDF/Ebook with good content (one hopes) in exchange for joining an email list is Lead Generation 101. The book is a runup to a paid course he is offering.

"Pay $1 to access this file" OR Sign up for email sends confusing signals to users. To the author, book is not worth $1, it is worth one email list signup. To the user, the book's value is entirely relative. They can offer up their email (positive value perception), or they can leave the site (zero value perception).

Exactly. Content has a cost. You can pay for it in many ways.

I just put a fake email@example.com, and It happily gives out the download ! Wait a min, keep this trick private :P

You have source to the google docs. If you want a pdf of the same book, what's the problem in giving your email? I scratch your back, you scratch my back.

Just use a temporary email and call it a day.

That's a nice looking sales page.

Thanks :)

Much better than "Print to PDF" option

Which is infinitely better than me accidentally sending it to my home printer...

My wife and I are bootstrapping a business, and we're nearly at 100 customers (92 right now). I would not say it's an easy road. We've been working on it full time for 1.5 years so far.

A couple things I've realized while doing this:

1. Business is a competition. Much like in sports, skills are only built up through practice. For an entrepreneur this means actually selling something. You will start at level 0. There is no substitution for actually doing the work.

2. The bigger you grow, the easier it gets. A year ago we were running around like headless chickens not knowing what to focus on. Now that we've got a core group of customers, and it's much easier to decide where to go. We can start to plan a month or two months out now. Opportunities such as partnerships also present themselves as your business grows larger.

> The bigger you grow, the easier it gets

I guesstimate it's easier to grow until start hiring, and hit the point where you can no longer directly manage everyone who works at the company. And if you've never hired & managed people, being new to having employees is it's own kind of adventure!

My perception from going through growth again this past year is that the sooner you can get your organization organized the easier it gets. I can't recommend the eMyth books enough for most anyone starting a business. Systemizing things, particularly the things that are rudimentary, is the fastest way to get to a healthy business. I also ran around for months like a chicken with my head cut off. Once I hired some help (contractors mostly) to do some of the tiny tasks that were massive time sucks my life got easier and my business got healthier.

How long did it take you to build your product? My partner and I are bootstrapping have customers but I’m always way behind on product as a solo dev.

Unrelated but I found your portfolio site to be really funny with the pointer clicks and portrait changes

Business looks interesting but Im not the target demographic

Appreciate your perspective. Which portfolio site are you referring to?

Never heard of him ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Kagerjay's comment is responding to csytan's comment, not your post.

Ah...sorry lads! couldn't tell on mobile :-)

> sorry lads

Come on, we can do better than that. This isn't an ol' boys club.

In Ireland "lads" is (weirdly to British people) gender neutral and is used by men and women to refer to mixed groups of people.

I don't know if itsbenlee is Irish or in Ireland.

"Lads" is an appropriate, albeit very british, way of addressing men, which the poster above was doing. Why the noise?

Little disappointed to be so downvoted for calling this out; I don't really do it very often. Also a brit, but I didn't know that the others in the conversation were men. It's pretty easy to use `guys` instead.

I didn't downvote you.

But it was a short comment intended to convey "Oops! Sorry. My bad." So you basically replied to an apology with a suggestion that the apology had committed some greater sin.

My feeling is that probably falls under the heading "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater." I don't think it qualifies as a Best Practice for improving the social climate on some metric or other.

That's not intended to lecture you. I'm just trying to make conversation on a topic I find interesting. Given the nature of the beast, I'm having very mixed feelings about commenting at all.

"Guys" is just as gender-specific as "lads".

The defence was it was a Britishism, where guys is gender neutral.

I don't understand your post/replies. Do you have a problem with people using britishisms? The "defence" spelling is also a britishism, so I'm not sure where you're going with all that.

"Guys" is not any more gender neutral than "Lads" (they both are often used in a gender-neutral way, but they're etymologically male). "Folks" is what I personally use if I specifically want something gender-neutral, but "lads" is definitely appropriate if the author is speaking to men.

Which brings me back to "this is a lot of noise for nothing".

Literally the first definition of "guy" is "a man". "Guy" is only gender neutral when you're referring to a group of people.

Why not address all readers, instead of only men?

The poster above was not addressing readers, but rather three specific people.

Apparently you can use 'guys' now instead

This is a really interesting document. I literally cringe reading it. At first I thought that I'd really like something like this document but with less random quotes, less facile language, less cheer leading, less fill in the blanks, etc. But then I thought... I wonder if I am reacting this way because this is exactly what I need to be reading. What if the way of thinking espoused by this document is precisely why I never start a business? Maybe it's the fact that I roll my eyes and completely disregard what people are saying when they start talking in this fashion that I haven't actually done anything.

Food for thought.

My encouragement for you to start a business is this, 'become unstoppable'. How you become unstoppable is finding your 'why' for doing it. I think this is the hardest part... and more important than finding 'a business opportunity' because I think you need the meaning of your 'why' to sustain you through the difficulties of new venture creation, especially as you iterate through to product market fit.

I think once you have your why, you'll find yourself naturally doing whatever it takes to execute, which sharpens your focus away from noise like what you're describing (i.e. other people's communication styles) and allows you to 'take what you need' from resources, such as this book, and ignore everything else.

Is... Is this some kind of parody / troll comment?

Not at all. It's based on one of Simon Sinek's most well known TED talks: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_insp...

Kind of... Simon Sinek distilled what I already knew to be true, and what I live as I work towards a company that "looks after people". The rest is from hard won wisdom AKA (temporary) failure.

I fully agree with the him, and I don’t understand why would you think it was a troll comment.

Because it's exactly the kind of stuff the OP was complaining about.

I know what you mean, but like the poster, I have an aversion for all the hustle BS advice that I think is toxic. I'm curious to find out what part of my advice can be considered 'exactly the kind of stuff the OP was complaining about'?

I truely believe that everything we create in life, which includes a new venture, can be viewed in the frame of self actualization. To me this means the motive to realize one's full potential.

To me that is the essence of what an entrepreneur is trying to do, just in the context of co-creation with the market.

I'm not like the poster. I read your comment and I get some message that I think is helpful.

But there is no way I can be reasonably sure the message I got is the one you trying to convey, what means the post isn't clear (and in fact, I get a slightly different message from your answer). There is no indication on your post that the message is largely known to be true, or that it's opinion, or a hypothesis, I can't get how certain I must be of it. Overall I can't be sure that I'm just getting a message that fits my biases from noise, or if I am actually deriving meaning from the text.

We’ll have to disagree here. The ‘why’ thing is based off scientific research on goal setting and motivation. As such there is an essential distinction from motivational quotes.

A sentence like "How you become unstoppable is finding your 'why' for doing it" is unscientific. That doesn't mean it's wrong, it's just completely open to interpretation. There are too many different ways to refine that idea into a testable hypothesis. So it doesn't mean much to say it's based on scientific research. It doesn't have any bearing on the original comment about vague, facile language.

Treat that sentence as an awkward summation of personal experience then. That's how I took it, and it reflects perfectly my own.

"Telling people to become unstoppable helps them succeed in starting businesses," on the other hand, is a testable hypothesis, as is "people who believe they are unstoppable are more likely to start a successful business", and that's how interpreted the comments in this thread.

Absolutely not a troll, this is my honest and sincere advice to someone who seems to be reaching for something just beyond their grasp.

I just wanted to say thanks for responding :-) The resultant thread was quite interesting if nothing else. But I also appreciate the advice.

I think it's really interesting how modes of communication can throw you (or at least me ;-) ). I seem to evaluate the content by the mode of communication, which is really incorrect. I suspect it was a coping mechanism I used when I was young to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff.

What others have said about your post is true for me as well. When I look at it superficially I think, "What does 'become unstoppable' mean in measurable terms". Well, it doesn't mean anything because it is not actually possible to become unstoppable in this context. You can always be stopped. But I think that leaving it there is not a good idea. The meaning of a sentence is not in the words: it's in the actual meaning that the original person intended to convey! So if I don't understand what you intended to convey, then I have missed the point entirely.

I think this is what I'm slowly learning, so I appreciate your contribution to that learning.

As for the 'why', I have a very good 'why', but the thing that is stopping me is probably that I just don't want to do it. Several years ago I thought about starting a brewery. I had the money. My friend who owned an empty factory even offered it to me for zero rent. I had the business plan. Everything was ready to go... and then I thought, "Wait a minute... working in a brewery. That's exactly the same as working in a factory. No matter how much I think making beer is cool, I don't want to work in a factory." Then I thought, "I can hire people to work in the factory. But what will I do?" And I thought of all the jobs that I could have at a brewery and I didn't want any of them. So I canned the brewery idea :-)

So for me, I think to be "unstoppable", I really need to find a job that I want to do at my new company. This is probably the biggest stumbling block I have.

Anyway, thanks again!

No worries mate, I guess I just wanted to give you some encouragement and some philosophical ideas that have helped me.

If I could clarify what I mean by being unstoppable, I mean something like, 'your attitude, or mental frame, is critical to making the first step as much as it is to each step of your new venture journey'.

I personally believe, from the experiences gained on my own new venture journey, that barriers are opportunities for growth... but they can also be reasons you use for abandoning your journey. Ray Dalio has a good YouTube video that summarises his book 'Principles' in 30 minutes which illustrates this idea perfectly. I wholeheartedly recommend the video and the book.

As I mentioned before, I believe when you have that 'why' you'll naturally do what you must. My ultimate 'why' is simply to be the best version of myself. Everything I do needs to live up to that... so decision making in the moment becomes simple and compelling (occasionally I do mess up and grow).

All my other 'whys' are a ranked subset... which makes me think that even though you had a 'why' for your brewery, you actually had other more compelling 'whys' which basically overrode that particular 'why'.

However, there is no right or wrong answer to the direction of your life (assuming you don't initiate harm on others)... you must decide for yourself what you believe.

You can even say that 'whys' are just beliefs... and that we have a hierarchy of them that pre-programs us to a particular set of actions. Think of it like f(x) = y. I think if you can assess your beliefs you can also decide what you want them to be, and if you decide on their ranked order, you can program yourself to whatever success means to you.

As for finding a job to do at your new company... I define my 'job' as someone who looks after 'people'. In this context 'people' means myself, employees, clients and society (in that order). This then naturally leads me to ask, "Am I being the best version of myself as I look after people?"

This is an infinite game and one that I'll never be bored doing because there is always scope for improvement.

Anyhow just some throughs... all the best!

You don’t have to buy into motivational speaking nonsense in order to start a business, and it’s reasonably safe to ignore people who give advice in that style.

So when you see Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins quotes everywhere you can move on.

The trick though is not to let your distaste for a certain kind of content-free motivational business writing prevent you from taking a rigorous and scientific approach to management, business, and sales, which does require realizing that charisma, charm, interpersonal skills, motivation, emotional stability, and so on actually do matter and you’d better have a plan for those areas as well.

One of the things I like about Zig Ziglar is that he doesn't take himself seriously. He talks about exactly that: that this stuff is nonsense and only said to make a point. The point being that you have to figure out what works for you and what motivates you. And that you can't escape understanding your motivations if you want to be successful.

I feel like you're implying that in order to start a successful business you need to think/talk like this. I can't imagine any reason that would be true. However, if you want people to listen to your theories after you're successful, this type of language is exactly what you should use. He's maximizing his audience. It's proven that this type of speaking works well to build an audience (at least in the United States). In contrast, it's not clear that this way of thinking is required to start a successful business.

Find someone successful in business who doesn't talk like this. There are plenty of them around. I can't stand this type of talk either, thankfully when I started my business my friends / mentors were much more down-to-earth.

Looks very interesting, but the doc is very busy right now. If you want to download a PDF copy of the doc for reading on the go, here's the link (let it load for a while): https://docs.google.com/document/d/104qgagSsp2rQQEDORGbYC0uq...

As someone further up in the thread posted: give the guy some love and download it from his website AND get it nicely formatted with a proper layout. Go here https://first100.yobenlee.com

I was also wondering putting a PDF version on a Github would be more efficient to everyone. Thanks.



I will circle back and read this over the weekend but my advice is this:

Get to 10 customers, and then double down on anything that worked.

Some ideas for the first 10:

- write an essay about something interesting that you can weave your business idea into, submit to tech blogs like hackernoon

- join a maker group that can help you in an informal quid pro quo with social media shares and upvotes

- launch on hacker news, product hunt and indie hackers. All have their rituals. Spend a little time, not too much, to get it right.

- contact all the people you talked to before/during product development (bc you did talk to people, right?)

- use an seo keyword research tool or just start searching for things and use the suggestions at the bottom of the google results. Write actual content on your website that is directed toward answering these questions. Seo compounds slowly so start early.

- find places your customers are (questions on quora or stack overflow; Facebook groups; etc) and learn about them and interact without being spammy.

These are the techniques we used to take Cronitor to 10 customers and then hundreds more.

> find places your customers are

> we used to take Cronitor

You clearly have skin in the game due to following your own advice.

I have an interesting question.

Say there is an already established business that has more than proven the idea is viable.

What does it take to... join the same market space? Can you offer the same features at the same price? Can you offer the same features at a lower price? Can you offer less features at a lower price?

Are there cases where there is only room for one player and no matter what you do, you will not be able to steal any sizable amount of market share from them?

Super simple. No matter the industry, you can beat the competition with AI + blockchain written in Rust.

I still remember when all it took was synergy and outside-the-box thinking.

Me myself and I, go team go

Or if you want to get really big, PHP.

Don't reinvent the wheel, just use SQL.

It is spelled XML actually. Geek jargon is hard to get right sometimes.

Kids these days. Clearly not familiar with the glory days of let-stuff-everything-in-xml of the early 00's.

please dont turn this into reddit please

They don't use Rust.

Don't forget deep learning!

VR! It's all about VR!

Don't forget AR!

and RR!

ARR is really the big one.

Which server would you use to host it?

Hint: It's a trick question

Serverless of course ;-)

I remember the days when you had the terms "Server" == software and "Server Class Machine" == machine you run the server on.

An AWS Lambda program is therefore a server!

  "What does it take to... join the same market space?"
Speaking on the SAAS space. IMO the bar for entry is getting higher every year. It's getting easier and easier to build apps, and the number of developers keeps growing.

What does it take to join the same market space? Here's some strategies:

1. Find a niche that is being ignored and really needs your specific product. This is getting harder to do.

2. Raise money. One way to build a good product is to throw good developers at it.

3. Give yourself a longer runway. Think years instead of months.

4. Buy an existing business, and run it yourself.

   "Are there cases where there is only room for one player and no matter what you do, you will not be able to steal any sizeable amount of market share from them?"
Definitely. If you go very niche, you'll find areas where there is a strong competitor dominating small a space. It might not be worth entering the space because the market is so small.

>>Speaking on the SAAS space. IMO the bar for entry is getting higher every year. It's getting easier and easier to build apps, and the number of developers keeps growing.

The flip side of the coin is that demand for software is increasing, as software is "eating the world". This is why average salaries for software developers have been increasing: growth demand is outpacing growth in supply.

All of those are viable if the audience exists along the spectrum of power users.

Another alternative is to just offer features better -- better support, better reliability, fewer bugs, etc. Better support being the most impactful value you can add.

Those are all nice and good value propositions, but at the end of the day you need to sell better. You need to get past the gate keeper and deliver a pitch that makes you seem amazing. Being better is clearly an advantage. but without the pitch, no one will care.

If you can offer better support and better reliability, you can even get away with charging a lot more money than your competitors.

Position yourself as a purveyor of premium goods, hand-crafted using genuine leather with a personal touch for each customer. Make the competition suddenly look like cheap knockoffs, the kind that serious people should never even consider buying. Convince people to pay for the privilege of buying from you instead.

This strategy doesn't work in all markets, but when it does, it does wonders.

If you could deliver more value at a lower cost than your competitor (without sacrificing your profits of course), I don’t see why you couldn’t compete.

Short answer: let the data do the talking. How big is the market? Have you driven paid/organic traffic to a landing page? Have you tested any funnels? Have you gotten feedback your prospective customers?

You can do all these things with a minimal investment.

It doesnt even need to be lower cost, if they understand the business. We compete with a lot of startups (im not at a startup) that build their entire case on 'you are our entire client base, whatever you want, we can build' where our approach has to weigh up all client requests and build towards what we think the best overall solution is going to be.

For those clients its beneficial to them to go to someone new that will cater to their exact wants

Find a differentiator. Often simply the UX differences can be enough. Look at the CRM space for example. Salesforce is a collosal mess from a UX standpoint, so companies like Pipedrive can do pretty well by specifically not being Salesforce.

You can 9ffer the same features at a higher price and succeed. It's a big big world out there.

Execute better. It depends on the idea what this means, but in general your product should be a better choice for the customer than the competitor's. You probably won't be able to achieve that for all customers, but the more you convince you are better for them, the more market share you will have.

> Helped launch more than 500 mobile apps

I don't want to discredit the author... but that number seems way too high. 500 apps for a period of "more than 10 years" (which usually means prob is just 10 years or really close to it) implies that you would've had to release (on average) 4 apps per month non-stop during 10 years. How can you have time to do anything else?

I get you're not developing each app, but if you're helping them, then you must allocate some reasonable amount of time per app, otherwise your contribution would be close to zero (not relevant).

Was that a typo? I could believe 50, but 500?

My understanding was OP has been a consultant for startups, in the traditional sense of advising what works and what doesn't. Depending on how involved OP is and how high level they are working, that may only involve spending a few hours per week per client - I'd imagine even just joining a weekly retrospective and advising a team would be pretty valuable.

This is super timely — looking forward to take a look at this in the evening. Wish this was in an ebook format so I could stick it into my Kindle and read it that way though. You might want to check out Calibre, it's an app that automatically converts to more ebook-friendly formats. Might be worth a shot.

BTW - you might want to just host the PDF on your website behind an email wall and put it behind Cloudflare. I just spent 10 minutes trying to get the PDF, it's that busy on Google Docs.

Edit: I just tried to convert it, it works okay, not super great, since the source is PDF. I'm sure you have the raw text document, you can flawlessly convert from that to EPUB/MOBI if you want.

Will check out Calibre. Appreciate the feedback!

You can get the PDF downloadable link here: first100.yobenlee.com.

Will work on EPUB/MOBI formats!

Please do those formats. Many read on iBooks and pdf is hard to work with. I also tried calibre on the PDF, but that doesn't produce a good output. Thanks for this.

Already pinged my designer. If you want to opt-in on my page, I’ll make sure we push these formats before the holidays! Thanks for the feedback.


EPUB formats have been pushed live on my page!

In the meantime, you can use the export from GDocs to get an epub format.


Very insightful. While reading the article, I realised that having freedom is my core motivation. And that (a bit of extra) freedom is the biggest thing my company can give people. We enable people who are diagnosed with cancer to be in charge. To not feel defeated, to make decisions and set their path. Will use this to update our messaging. Thanks for the article!

"Roadmapping: a pre-development product workshop that helps founders validate their app idea against the marketplace. [...] With more than 500 Roadmapping sessions under our belt, we can say definitively that it works: 18% of our alumni raise more than $250,000 in pre-product seed capital"

How on earth is raising money a synonym of successful product market fit?

Yeah, once I read that I couldn't stand to read on, it was like, oh, this is just BS then, that's not a signal of success or market fit, it's a sign of convincing investors there is.

I do like your agency brand (Rootstrap) but as you may have found, its one of those words that has unexpected meanings in other cultures :)

I took a startup course in the MBA program at one of HBS/GSB/Wharton/Kellogg that was taught by a (in my estimation) great VC. Arguably the most insightful class I've ever taken. I'll give two sets of insights: anecdotes and principles.

(A1) The founders of a successful custom apparel startup didn't get even close to 100 customers until after they had tried two different distribution channels. First, they opened a store and that didn't work. Second, they tried to sell on-line and that didn't work. Finally, with implosion imminent, they tried a hybrid model where you get measured in the store, but every purchase is made on-line and then delivered. It worked.

(A2) Co-founder of one of the publicly-traded food delivery companies told us how he started out. Was hungry, realized he couldn't order online, so he sits down and codes an initial web page (as well as an API). Asks a friend of a friend that runs a restaurant to let him list the restaurant on his new site. Guy gives him $140 for one month.

Figures he'll just knock-on doors to add restaurants, but managers kick him out with no meeting. Realizes if he walks in the back door (alley) and pretends to have a meeting with a manager he might get somewhere. So, he walks through the kitchens of 100's of restaurants and they ask him who he is there to see, tells them he has a meeting with the manager. 50% of the time he gets kicked-out, the rest of the time he gets restaurants to agree to being listed.

(A3) My VC professor's fourth business was a bridal gown website he purchased with his co-founder. They didn't use paid SEO. Rather, they came up with creative hacks to drive traffic to the site. One of the better ones:

Pay writers in India to compose short articles about stuff happening in the bridal space. The writers read the first articles to be published that morning (UK time) in the BBC, etc., then write up the same stuff, and publish it on their bridal gown page right as (US time) the same stories were hitting presses at the NYT, etc.

Using such hacks, they got their site to number two on google search results without paid SEO.


(P1) "Half of the difficulty is going from zero customers to one customer. Everything after that is the other half."

(P2) Every startup is a science experiment. Come up with a hypothesis, test it, and see what worked and what didn't. Rinse, repeat.

Following a structured, hypothesis-driven process is key. Literally, write in a journal what your hypothesis/assumption is, how you are going to test it, and what you hope to learn from the test. Next week, write-out what your hypothesis is, what you need to do this week to make further progress on validating/invalidating it, what progress you made the week before in validating/invalidating it, and what your plan for the following week is. Continue writing out these four things every single week to stay organized.

(P3) If you feel extremely strapped for cash, view this as a blessing in disguise. There is some creative hack that will allow you to validate/invalidate your hypothesis or set of assumptions - you just haven't found it yet. Running solid, structured experiments (i.e. process) is most important. Love process.


Unless you have blown way past 100 customers, the sciency/experimental aspect of a startup doesn't change. And even inside unicorns, management is (hopefully) still ultimately just running a never ending series of experiments.

Those are excellent insights, thank you.

Do you have any pointers to get started on this for someone whose last practice of scientific method was a middle-school science fair project? (Asking for a friend)

I picked up the book "Uncontrolled" by Jim Manzi, which is ostensibly about this subject. Would love to hear any recommendations you picked up from learning about this material and applying it.

I just created a gmail account you can contact me at ( anongraddebt@gmail.com ). I'll give you the syllabus, assorted materials, and a bulleted list of take-aways that I've written up for others in the past.

most detailed guide drop I've seen in a while on here, thanks

Appreciate it! I'll be pushing some bonus material next week. Here's how to get on the list yobenlee.com -> Read My Book

This is nicely put together - thank you.

My entire business is actually in helping people get customers and at least half of our clients are those seeking P/M fit who partner with us to get early demos of their product (or even pre-demo conversations) scheduled. I have a sketchbook full of cool SAAS ideas that I'm not savvy enough to build. But I'm good at getting customers so viola that's my business.

I would offer these tips if you are trying to start a business - any business - and need a nudge to get your first few customers.

1. You don't need to be different. The world is HUGE. Most of your potential customers have never heard of your competitors. In fact, they may well be saying "I wish this-thing-that-solves-a-need existed" without knowing that 20 versions of that thing exist. We tech folks drastically overestimate the amount of time and energy people put into finding ways to solve problems they have. Most folks just live with the misery.

2. Your competition sucks. If you pick up the phone and start the process of selling than you already way ahead of most of your competitors. Why? Because most of them act like they sell but they really just sit and agonize over one more line of code or one more feature instead of getting out there in front of customers. Use this to your advantage! Your product is already good enough, so stop developing it and go find users.

3. Your network is a goldmine. We had a potential customer approach us to help set 20 demos a month for their SAAS product. So far they had scheduled zero demos even though all 3 founders had over 1000 LinkedIn connections. Instead of taking them on as a client I consulted with them for a couple of hours on how to reach out to people they already knew. (Side note: If you won't put your product/service in front of EVERYONE you know who is a potential customer than you are lacking confidence. This can be solved, but selling to people you know is MUCH easier than selling to strangers. Offer something you believe in and the conversations come easy).

4. People hate cold callers, spammers, and unsolicited messages. So make warm calls (after an introduction) and send relevant emails (how it is you know they have this problem and how you can help). Do not be fearful of reaching out! People ARE interested in real things that solve real problems and they will pay real money for that.

5. Charge more. Charging a low price doesn't motivate buying any more than a high price discourages it. Don't price your SAAS at $2 a month because you are afraid no one will pay $5. Don't price it at $10 because you are afraid no one will pay $50. Especially in B2B when purchasers aren't often spending their own money. Problems in the business world are worth more than $5, $10 or even hundreds of dollars to solve.

Good luck to all of you. Finding new customers can and should be fun, not a source of stress. And seeing the first official sale or first dollar in the bank is a high that never gets old.


This is fantastic!

Great guide, very well detailed! Just what I needed, thanks!


Presentation is not good. Endless headings followed by double space followed by short paragraph or bullet points.

Hard to read, annoying to scan. I can see a lot of generic fluff. There may be pearls in there, but I didn't spot any on quick glance.

> There may be pearls in there, but I didn't spot any on quick glance.

I've read 1/4 but carefully and already found several pearls. Mind you, some people will already know 80% of knowledge in this book, but it's not the same 80% for anyone. I won't tell you what is usable because this book is very general and different parts are usable to different people.

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