Hackernoon logoSecrets to Grow a Small Business Without Spending Money by@techlead

Secrets to Grow a Small Business Without Spending Money

Patrick Shyu Hacker Noon profile picture

@techleadPatrick Shyu

YouTuber (500k subs), Ex-Google/ex-Facebook Tech Lead.

Ex-Google Tech Lead shares his experience in growing a business from 0 to millions of users fast, and his top tips for you to get going too.

All too often, we focus too much on the product we're building, without thinking about the marketing problem. But it turns out that marketing is one of the larger (if not the largest) challenge in starting a business.

What if, when considering a business opportunity, we were to focus more on the challenge of gaining customers, rather than the challenge of the product?

A business may have hundreds of products, half of which will fail, and most of which will be discontinued within a few years. For many businesses, it is not about the product, but about the brand marketing power that generates revenue allowing re-investment into improving a mediocre product over time until it becomes good. Many excellent products fail, and many bad products succeed.

Don't underestimate marketing, make it part of your business plan.

Also check out the site we built for TechLead: Season 1 HD Complete at http://techleadpro.com

πŸŽ‰ Party up:

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Video Transcript

(Note: This transcript was auto-generated by YouTube and may not be 100% correct.)

00:00

hey template here and welcome to another

00:01

episode now what we're going to be

00:03

talking about today is how to grow your

00:05

next business into a million users now I

00:09

wanted to remind you guys that I am an

00:10

ex-googler

00:12

lead and I have built a number of

00:14

successful apps that have been able to

00:16

get to millions of users we can take a

00:19

look at the dashboard here you can see

00:21

here that this was one of my apps with

00:23

3.6 million users had another app pure

00:26

iPhone app 25 thousand users another one

00:28

with 15,000 users 40,000 users let's see

00:31

and this was another app with 500,000

00:33

users and I have grown all of these as

00:36

well as having worked for larger

00:38

companies in which there were apps with

00:39

many many more millions of users so I

00:42

would like to think that I know a thing

00:43

or two about how to grow a business from

00:45

zero to millions of users and I'm here

00:47

to give you my top 5 tips on how you too

00:50

can do that as well this video by the

00:52

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02:37

changed my perspective was one time I

02:39

was building this dating website and I

02:41

started researching this and I realized

02:43

that dating websites are actually

02:46

extremely easy to build and they faced a

02:49

certain class of problem known as the

02:50

chicken and the egg problem in which the

02:53

success of a dating website depends

02:55

purely on how many people you can get on

02:57

there that's it it's a marketing problem

02:59

it's not a technical problem at all so

03:02

that made me realize that there are

03:03

certain classes of businesses that sound

03:06

great at a million users but that don't

03:09

really sound good at 10 users or 100

03:11

users right and so the first thing you

03:14

need to understand is that you need to

03:15

come up with a path that gets your

03:17

business from 0 users to 10 users to 100

03:20

users a thousand users and a million and

03:22

so if you think about like a dating

03:24

website it's really not much fun with

03:26

only 10 users or a hundred users or a

03:28

thousand users but once you can get like

03:31

10 million users on there it starts to

03:32

sound pretty fun and this is something

03:34

that anybody can do but it just costs

03:37

huge amounts of investments in marketing

03:39

and advertising to get that going and

03:41

the challenge the trick is how do you

03:44

grow it to that size and this is really

03:46

not a trivial thing so you have to have

03:48

a good marketing plan in place for your

03:50

product so that's the first thing is to

03:52

understand that marketing is a very

03:54

interesting problem and for some

03:55

businesses it is actually the core

03:57

problem for the business itself I

03:59

remember one time I had collaborated

04:01

with a team member to build this

04:03

framework you know when we were building

04:04

that I said well we got to make this

04:06

really cool landing page and sell it to

04:08

the developers and tried to get a lot of

04:10

people using this stuff and then that

04:12

other developer just didn't seem to care

04:13

and all he did was he put up like a

04:15

readme file like just a plain readme

04:17

text file and then he just launched it

04:19

and said oh an email

04:21

marketing campaign and guess how many

04:23

people actually adopted this product it

04:25

was like 1 or 2 almost nobody was

04:27

interested in using this framework and

04:29

essentially that just tanked the whole

04:31

project so even though this was simply a

04:34

piece of code oftentimes the impact of a

04:36

developer especially if you're working

04:38

and say infra is how many people are

04:40

actually using your code how many people

04:42

are adopting that piece of technology

04:44

that you wrote so in more places that

04:46

you may imagine and actually in all

04:48

aspects of life from say your dating

04:50

life to your personal branding to pieces

04:53

of code that you write to how you

04:54

negotiate and to the businesses that you

04:56

grow marketing has a huge impact on

04:59

anything that you do marketing is very

05:00

important and so you just have to make

05:02

that a priority I know we all just want

05:04

to start building the product and that's

05:06

the most interesting and fun part about

05:07

it but marketing is something that

05:09

cannot be ignored you have to take it

05:11

seriously

05:11

whenever I start on a new project

05:13

actually it is usually spurred by a new

05:16

marketing opportunity so if there's a

05:18

new app platform that opens up say

05:20

Facebook apps open up or iPhone apps

05:23

open up that is a brand new marketing

05:25

opportunity it's not so much the

05:27

technology the technology may be

05:29

interesting and cool too but it is that

05:31

distribution part that actually

05:32

motivates me to jump in and start

05:34

building something

05:35

I won't take on the project if I don't

05:37

have a clear idea about how I'm going to

05:39

get the first hundred users when I

05:41

started the panel apps which is my

05:43

time-lapse photography software

05:44

I had already pre identified a small

05:46

community of photographers who are very

05:49

interested in time-lapse tricks getting

05:51

sliders and motion and all of that stuff

05:53

so I knew right away that if I were to

05:55

build a piece of software I could

05:57

advertise straight to that community of

05:59

people and they would be interested so

06:01

you want to look for niches small sub

06:03

communities like subreddits Facebook

06:05

groups in which you'll be able to talk

06:06

and people will listen if you try to

06:09

talk to everybody you speak to nobody

06:11

now the second tip I have for you is to

06:13

write the current trends in distribution

06:16

and there's always a trend going on

06:17

somewhere these days is quite

06:19

interesting I would say that the trend

06:21

is in influencer marketing you can go

06:23

find youtubers Instagram influencers

06:25

people much like myself and you go as

06:28

them to promote your product so the key

06:31

difference here is that I would say we

06:33

are in an air

06:34

of influencers in the past technology

06:36

had largely been driven by platforms you

06:39

had platforms like Twitter Facebook

06:41

Google+ and essentially it would be

06:43

grassroots campaigns in which you would

06:45

brought has a post that post would be

06:47

shared by many friends and then that

06:48

post would eventually go viral it may go

06:51

Varro around hashtags on Twitter so in

06:54

the old days it was scattered friends

06:55

who would share news and then you would

06:57

say things like oh well you got to go to

06:58

Facebook or Twitter and you would talk

07:00

about these large platforms today the

07:03

difference is that we have gelled into

07:05

communities centered around influencers

07:07

and there's not so much the platform but

07:10

it is the influencer who you should be

07:12

talking to that is the person you

07:14

advertise with there used to be

07:16

something called bloggers and you would

07:18

go to these bloggers who ran their own

07:20

little independent websites and you ask

07:22

them to write about your stuff but

07:24

bloggers have kind of faded out these

07:26

days to be replaced by the influencers

07:28

that's who you need to go to that's the

07:30

trend these days and so overall I would

07:31

recommend you check out YouTube Twitter

07:33

Instagram maybe read it find out who the

07:35

influencers are in your specific niche

07:37

and go ask them to promote your stuff

07:40

maybe pay them a little money or

07:41

something like that get that all set up

07:43

for you not the third tip I have for you

07:45

about how you can grow your business is

07:46

to be genuine being genuine is trending

07:51

these days I would say you know in the

07:53

old days used to be all corporate speak

07:55

people hid behind this bill and

07:57

customers seem to appreciate that they

07:59

thought it sounded professional but

08:01

these days there's been sort of a

08:03

backlash against corporatism so this is

08:06

about building a natural relationship

08:08

with your customers your audience your

08:10

viewers how are you guys doing over

08:12

there say hi to your mom for me I want

08:15

to show you lose something that kind of

08:16

surprised me when I first saw this but

08:18

there's something called the style and

08:20

tone guide for large companies and we

08:24

take a look at what Google has here they

08:26

say that even for them officially they

08:28

want you to aim for a conversational

08:30

tone rather than a formal one be human

08:33

let your personality show be memorable

08:36

you can even be a little funny now in

08:38

then they say aim for a voice in tone as

08:40

conversational friendly and respectful a

08:43

voice that's casual and that

08:45

and approachable and you can see that

08:47

this is actually reflected in other

08:48

documentation as well if you check out

08:50

MailChimp at mail chip we've walked in

08:53

our customers shoes using offbeat humor

08:55

and the conversational voice we play

08:57

with language to bring joy to work we

08:59

don't take ourselves too seriously

09:01

we are plain spoken we are genuine so if

09:04

the way you are communicating with your

09:05

customer is very formal and you think

09:07

that's professional it's actually not

09:09

you're actually damaging your brand and

09:11

you are distancing yourself from your

09:13

customer and you're just being very

09:15

corporate faceless non-genuine entity

09:19

and you lose that chance to develop a

09:21

more human personal relationship with

09:23

your customer which your competitors

09:26

probably are doing so that's the current

09:28

trend these days if you're trying to act

09:30

out corporate and professional then just

09:31

stop that right now now my fourth tip

09:33

for you is the optimize your conversion

09:35

funnel so maybe you set up this

09:37

beautiful landing web page you want to

09:39

make sure that as people are entering

09:40

your website you aren't losing them and

09:42

this is something that you have to

09:43

really be mindful of about I want to

09:46

show you some interesting landing pages

09:47

here actually if you take a look at the

09:49

landing page for Amazon it's quite

09:51

interesting actually that when you get

09:53

towards the purchase flow you'll find

09:55

that nothing on the page becomes

09:56

clickable anymore except the continue

09:58

button in which you can continue to buy

10:00

stuff the Amazon logo that banner you

10:02

can't click on it they just remove that

10:04

so you don't keep going backwards

10:06

even this learn more button if you ever

10:08

tap on that it just opens a brand new

10:10

window in the pop-up but it doesn't

10:12

actually redirect me from this site once

10:14

I get into this portion it just follows

10:16

me straight into the portion where I

10:18

have to place an order you want to

10:20

minimize the number of clicks that your

10:22

user has to make if you check out my

10:23

website here I don't even have a cart I

10:25

just asked for your credit card number

10:27

and then there's a Buy Now button right

10:29

there which completes the whole

10:30

purchasing process for you it's one

10:32

click by essentially accessibility is

10:34

something that I think a lot of people

10:36

underestimate and what you want to make

10:38

sure that your site is easy and simple

10:41

to access for anybody and you want to be

10:43

thinking about people like your mom for

10:45

instance with someone like that be able

10:47

to navigate your app your business your

10:49

website and really understand it and go

10:52

through the whole flow for example if I

10:54

were to build a website many

10:55

so I would just use a standard button

10:57

I'm not going to try to customize it and

10:59

make it look all cool and shiny and

11:00

round it because then it doesn't really

11:02

look like a button anymore right and

11:04

people may not know that that's

11:05

clickable and that whole entry should be

11:08

fun simple clean and understandable now

11:10

the fifth point here is you want to

11:12

consider what people like to call the

11:14

viral loop right which is the flow in

11:17

which when the user gets into your app

11:19

or your business or whatever it is how

11:21

are they going to spread that through

11:22

word-of-mouth and you want to make it as

11:25

easy as possible for people to share

11:27

your stuff so don't underestimate

11:28

building out this referral process in

11:30

which you can give people some goodies

11:33

and bonuses in exchange for them sharing

11:36

your service with their friends their

11:37

family you know I have spent tens of

11:40

thousands of dollars on advertising a

11:42

lot of that stuff doesn't really work

11:44

like I'm not sure if I've ever gotten

11:46

any payoff that felt really tangible to

11:49

me for advertising whereas if a product

11:52

is really good then it will be able to

11:54

grow on its own and that is really how

11:56

you get massive amounts of growth right

11:58

if your goal is to get like say five

12:01

hundred thousand users you're not going

12:03

to get to that amount by paying for

12:04

every single user it's just going to

12:06

cost way too much so you have to make

12:08

sure that there's a way for your

12:09

business to grow in sort of a viral way

12:12

exponential way without you having to

12:14

pay for each single person so for a lot

12:16

of the apps and games I make I always

12:18

take into consideration the time to

12:20

build some sort of referral process in

12:22

which people can have a special link if

12:24

they were to share that they would get

12:25

some in-app goodies some virtual items

12:27

virtual goods something that would just

12:29

incentivize people to help grow that

12:31

product let me know what your top tips

12:33

are on growing a business if you like

12:35

the video give the like and subscribe

12:36

and I will see you next time bye

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