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Deep Dive with Ali Abdaal

How to Scale your Startup with Growth Levers: Matt Lerner

Thu Jun 13 2024
startup growthcustomer journey mappingcontent creationrevenue optionsmeasuring impactengaging subscribersrefining creative process

Description

This podcast episode covers various topics related to startup growth, customer journey mapping, content creation challenges, revenue options, measuring impact, engaging subscribers, and refining the creative process. The discussions include insights from industry experts and entrepreneurs who share their experiences and strategies for success. The episode emphasizes the importance of identifying key growth levers, understanding the customer journey, embracing mistakes, prioritizing value delivery over monetization, and experimenting with different strategies. It also highlights the challenges of managing multiple revenue streams, building an audience on different platforms, and prioritizing projects for maximum impact. Overall, the episode provides valuable insights and practical advice for startups and content creators looking to grow their businesses.

Insights

Identifying key growth levers is crucial for startup success.

Startups should focus on key actions that will have the biggest impact on business growth. This involves identifying a North Star metric and running experiments to validate growth levers.

Understanding the customer journey is essential for effective marketing.

Mapping the customer journey helps businesses reach potential customers more effectively by understanding their actions and needs at each stage of the journey.

Embracing mistakes and learning from them is valuable in a startup environment.

Making mistakes brings learning and moves startups closer to their goals. It's important to adopt a growth mindset that embraces experimentation and continuous improvement.

Engaging subscribers and retaining viewership are key challenges for content creators.

Content variety, personalization, and positive feedback loops contribute to engaging subscribers and growing monthly returning viewership. Monetization strategies include sponsorships, own products, and affiliates.

Measuring impact and focusing on key goals are crucial for business success.

Identifying the North Star metric for delivering value to customers and simplifying business complexity can drive growth. Focusing on one successful channel and selecting platforms aligned with business strengths are important strategies.

Chapters

  1. Identifying Growth Levers
  2. Mapping the Customer Journey
  3. Embracing Mistakes and Ideal Customers
  4. Content Creation Challenges and Revenue Options
  5. Startups vs Non-Startups and Measuring Impact
  6. Prioritizing Value Delivery and Monetization
  7. Measuring Impact and Focusing on Key Goals
  8. Measuring Impact and Simplifying Business
  9. Engaging and Retaining Loyal Subscribers
  10. Increasing Returning Viewership and Subscriber Engagement
  11. Engaging Subscribers and Retaining Viewership
  12. Content Variety and Monetization Strategies
  13. Monetization through Affiliate Links and Engaging Viewers
  14. Engagement and Retention Metrics
  15. Focusing on Core Activities and Prioritizing Projects
  16. Prioritizing Projects and Refining Ideas
  17. Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics
  18. Building a Core Creative Organization and Experimenting with Content
  19. Building an Audience on LinkedIn and Managing Revenue Streams
  20. Identifying Rate Limiting Steps and Improving Content Creation
  21. Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics
  22. Understanding the Customer Journey and Building a Growth Mindset
  23. Running Experiments and De-Risking Growth
  24. Prioritizing Experiments and Learning from Failures
  25. Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics
  26. Building an Audience on LinkedIn and Managing Revenue Streams
  27. Identifying Rate Limiting Steps and Improving Content Creation
  28. Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics
  29. Building a Core Creative Organization and Experimenting with Content
  30. Building an Audience on LinkedIn and Managing Revenue Streams
  31. Identifying Rate Limiting Steps and Improving Content Creation
  32. Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics
  33. Understanding the Customer Journey and Building a Growth Mindset
  34. Running Experiments and De-Risking Growth
  35. Prioritizing Experiments and Learning from Failures
Summary
Transcript

Identifying Growth Levers

00:00 - 18:11

  • Matt Lerner shares his experience and expertise in helping startups identify their growth levers.
  • He emphasizes the importance of focusing on key actions that will have the biggest impact on business growth.
  • Lerner discusses a four-step model for identifying a North Star metric and growth levers to run experiments for startup growth.
  • 90% of growth at PayPal came from about five key strategies, including eBay integration and reaching out to web developers
  • Success for startups lies in quickly identifying the 10% of efforts that will drive 90% of growth
  • Examples like Dropbox and Canva demonstrate the 90/10 principle in action through specific growth strategies
  • In early stage startups, the founder often serves as the head of growth due to the cross-functional nature of growth initiatives
  • Growth can be driven by various factors beyond traditional sales and marketing, such as product optimization or compliance efficiency

Mapping the Customer Journey

11:57 - 24:25

  • Spotify faced resistance from US record labels but found success in Europe before entering the US market.
  • Identifying growth levers involves understanding actions that impact business growth significantly.
  • Mapping the customer journey is crucial to reaching potential customers effectively.
  • Filtering and experimenting with ideas quickly are essential steps in the growth process.
  • Testing risky assumptions through rapid experiments is key to validating ideas efficiently.

Embracing Mistakes and Ideal Customers

17:47 - 29:53

  • To grow a startup quickly, one needs to adopt a mindset that embraces making mistakes and learning from them.
  • In a startup environment, making mistakes is valuable as each mistake brings learning and moves you closer to your goal.
  • Having an ideal customer profile is crucial for business growth and success.
  • Ideal customers for personal development content are deliberate individuals with goals focused on impact, independence, self-actualization, and holistic personal development.

Content Creation Challenges and Revenue Options

23:58 - 35:30

  • The podcast host discusses the challenge of feeling like they are running out of ideas and their content becoming repetitive after creating over 850 videos on their channel.
  • Despite having a large audience, the host feels pressure when comparing their revenue to other entrepreneurs with smaller audiences who are making more money.
  • The host is exploring different options to increase revenue, including software, B2B learning and development, B2B agencies, self-paced courses, and membership communities.
  • The lack of clarity in deciding which direction to take is identified as a major weakness in the business by a team member.
  • The host acknowledges the importance of having an amazing team but highlights the challenge of needing to focus on specific ideas for execution.

Startups vs Non-Startups and Measuring Impact

29:23 - 41:42

  • Entrepreneurs often receive unsolicited advice and ideas from others, but it's important to remember that outsiders are not running the business.
  • Brilliant is a learning platform offering engaging courses in math, data science, and computer science through interactive quizzes and games.
  • The process of setting revenue goals and deciding on business strategies involves evaluating existing revenue streams, potential new products, and considering factors like expertise within the team.
  • Startups differ from traditional businesses in their focus on rapid growth and innovation, as defined by Paul Graham.
  • Growth levers can apply to both startups and non-startups, depending on individual goals and investor involvement.

Prioritizing Value Delivery and Monetization

35:17 - 47:39

  • The distinction between startups and non-startups lies in personal goals, ambitions, and investor influence.
  • Startups typically focus on new business models, markets, categories, or solutions to old problems.
  • Startups are still writing their playbook and figuring out how the business works.
  • Prioritizing delivering value to customers over monetization is crucial for startup success.
  • Internal debates often revolve around growth aspirations, content freshness, and monetization strategies.
  • Potential reasons for failure include lack of fresh content leading to audience disengagement and taking customers for granted.

Measuring Impact and Focusing on Key Goals

41:24 - 53:27

  • Revenue from own products is crucial for the business, but faces challenges like negative videos impacting sales
  • Entrepreneurs with internal locus of control and detailed risk assessment are seen as positive signs
  • Identifying North Star metric for delivering value to customers is essential for growth model
  • Separating the business into three entities can simplify understanding target customers and goals
  • Delivering helpful content to audience is key for monetization in influencer businesses

Measuring Impact and Simplifying Business

47:23 - 1:00:01

  • The podcast discusses the idea of measuring impact by collecting testimonials on how content has changed people's lives.
  • They consider using 'number of lives changed' as a North Star metric to track positive impacts.
  • Another proposed metric is donating profits to charities that save lives, aiming for a direct impact measurement.
  • Complexity in business can hinder growth, and simplicity and focus are crucial for success.
  • Apple's approach to focusing on one key goal each year contributed to its success in product launches.

Engaging and Retaining Loyal Subscribers

53:10 - 1:06:52

  • Proxy metrics like the ratio of views to subscribers can help gauge true fan engagement across platforms.
  • Monthly returning viewers on YouTube could be a reasonable proxy for true fans and loyal subscribers.
  • Balancing content to appeal to existing audiences and attract new viewers can be challenging, as their preferences may differ.
  • Engaging, retaining, and monetizing loyal subscribers are key components in building a successful content strategy.
  • Focusing on delivering valuable content consistently to returning visitors is more important than solely chasing view counts.

Increasing Returning Viewership and Subscriber Engagement

59:37 - 1:13:12

  • The podcast host is experimenting with including vlogs on the main channel to increase returning viewers.
  • Defining the North Star metric for the business is challenging but crucial for growth.
  • The host discusses the correlation between audience size and course sales, highlighting challenges in selling products to a diverse audience.
  • Different sources like viral videos and personal, authentic content contribute to attracting new audiences and engaging existing fans.
  • Collaborations with other creators have limited impact on discoverability unless there's a significant audience size difference.

Engaging Subscribers and Retaining Viewership

1:06:25 - 1:20:10

  • Collaborations may not have the same impact on channel growth as they once did, except with major influencers
  • Turning a new subscriber into a loyal subscriber may require them to watch and vibe with at least three videos
  • Engaging subscribers through actions like using templates or taking other steps can lead to loyalty and returning viewership
  • Understanding the journey from trial to habituation is crucial in retaining engaged subscribers

Content Variety and Monetization Strategies

1:12:52 - 1:26:13

  • Content variety with videos on different topics helps keep existing viewers engaged
  • Vlogs and personal content can attract viewers who may have grown tired of specific content types
  • Creating standard, useful videos can grow monthly returning viewership
  • Positive feedback loops from viewer engagement contribute to growth
  • Monetization strategies include sponsorships, own products like Youtuber Academy course and Productivity Lab, book as a lead magnet, and affiliates

Monetization through Affiliate Links and Engaging Viewers

1:19:50 - 1:32:46

  • Monetization through affiliate links and sponsors enables the creator to produce more content and help more people.
  • Conversion rates from viewers to subscribers and loyal viewers are crucial metrics to track and improve.
  • Monthly returning viewership is a solid metric, with 1.7 million in the last 28 days.
  • Increasing habituation rate for new viewers can lead to higher monthly returning viewership.
  • Measuring end screen click-through rates can help grow the channel by encouraging viewers to watch more videos.

Engagement and Retention Metrics

1:25:52 - 1:38:37

  • Monthly returning viewers have increased by about 40% in the last year, totaling around 2 million.
  • Engagement and retention content are crucial metrics for success on the platform.
  • Community content and discoverable content play different roles in viewer engagement.
  • Monetization rate, such as dollars per monthly returning viewer, is an important metric to consider for revenue generation.
  • Check metrics like refund rate and customer satisfaction score help ensure content quality and audience satisfaction.
  • Having a diverse online presence including social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok can contribute to long-term success.

Focusing on Core Activities and Prioritizing Projects

1:32:16 - 1:44:20

  • The podcast is not a core part of the business and could be deleted without major impact.
  • There are various projects and initiatives being pursued that are not part of the main focus, but still hold some value.
  • Having too many projects can lead to distractions and inefficiencies within the team.
  • Different team members focus on specific tasks like social media, website management, and podcast scheduling.
  • Diversifying channels like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn helps reach more people and drive leads for the business.
  • In a venture-backed business, focusing on maximizing revenue and cutting non-core activities is crucial for success.

Prioritizing Projects and Refining Ideas

1:38:12 - 1:50:21

  • Startups often struggle with deciding which projects to prioritize over others.
  • It's important to evaluate the reasons behind pursuing each project and validate their potential before investing time and resources.
  • Revamping projects based on personal passion and strategic business goals can lead to more meaningful outcomes.
  • Focusing efforts on specific platforms, like Instagram, can yield significant growth results compared to spreading resources across multiple channels.
  • Questioning the purpose and potential of each project helps in determining whether it's a passion project or a future growth lever.

Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics

1:49:55 - 1:56:58

  • True fans are more likely to engage with content beyond just watching videos.
  • Metrics like monthly active users can be valuable for tracking engagement.
  • Simplicity in communication is key when sharing metrics with the team or stakeholders.
  • Business growth can simplify decision-making and solve problems.
  • Focusing on one successful channel rather than spreading efforts across multiple platforms can lead to better results.
  • Selecting channels that align with business strengths and target audience is crucial for success in marketing.

Building a Core Creative Organization and Experimenting with Content

1:56:28 - 2:03:39

  • Focus on becoming the best in one or two channels to succeed.
  • Adding more people and effort may not always result in creating viral content.
  • Building a core creative organization and process is key for sustained success in content creation.
  • Prioritize creating fresh and engaging content for viewers over just aiming for views.
  • Experimenting with repurposing podcast interviews into YouTube videos has shown promising results.

Building an Audience on LinkedIn and Managing Revenue Streams

1:56:58 - 2:10:44

  • The speaker shares their experience of building an audience on LinkedIn by repurposing email newsletters into LinkedIn posts.
  • The speaker discusses the challenges of managing a business with multiple revenue streams and the importance of focusing on a core product or service.
  • There is a conversation about diversification to reduce platform reliance and exploring different monetization strategies like affiliates, sponsorships, and new products.
  • The speaker reflects on the dilemma of deploying excess capital, considering investments in hiring social media personnel or focusing on specific platforms for business growth.
  • There is a debate between the benefits of focusing on one core product versus having multiple products within a business.

Identifying Rate Limiting Steps and Improving Content Creation

2:03:11 - 2:17:59

  • Having multiple products can lead to organizational complexity and hinder focus and prioritization.
  • Identifying the rate limiting step in a business is crucial for growth.
  • The rate limiting step for the growth model discussed is the limited time allocated to focusing on the YouTube channel.
  • Increasing filming days or freeing up more time for creative work could unlock bottlenecks in content creation.
  • Improving the creative process and delegation of tasks can help generate more video content efficiently.

Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics

2:10:18 - 2:24:41

  • The speaker discusses the need for a more refined creative process to generate more YouTube videos.
  • There is a realization that the best use of time is either writing a book or making YouTube videos, but other tasks often take priority.
  • The speaker reflects on past achievements in academics and how transitioning to running a business with fewer tasks and more room for mistakes can be challenging.
  • There is a desire to be more experimental with content creation on the YouTube channel and to invest more time in the creative process.
  • The importance of prioritizing and focusing on key metrics like conversion rates, engagement, and monetization to potentially scale the business is highlighted.
  • Understanding the customer journey better, including how they find content, what they consume, and their specific needs before making a purchase, is seen as crucial for success.

Understanding the Customer Journey and Building a Growth Mindset

2:17:33 - 2:31:04

  • Understanding the customer journey is crucial for creating good content and products.
  • Customer interviews of recent customers can provide valuable insights into their life and decision-making process.
  • Scientists make good growth people because they have a clear sense of the edge of their knowledge and are rigorous thinkers.
  • Developing curiosity about customers' journeys and limitations in understanding them can lead to better business decisions.
  • Separating business zones with specific growth strategies can help in building a business independent of personal activities.

Running Experiments and De-Risking Growth

2:24:13 - 2:31:04

  • Starting a business involves low success rates, especially without prior experience in building and selling companies.
  • Leveraging existing audience and connections can de-risk the process of finding new growth channels.
  • Running experiments to test different growth channels involves identifying ideas, focusing on key goals, assessing risks, and implementing low-risk strategies.

Prioritizing Experiments and Learning from Failures

2:30:40 - 2:33:45

  • Prioritize experiments based on the potential impact and learnings they can provide.
  • Formulate well-formed hypotheses before running experiments to guide decision-making.
  • Document predictions, results, and learnings from experiments to facilitate future decision-making.
  • Value the learning process even if most experiments fail, as it helps in refining ideas and execution abilities.
  • Encourage making predictions as a team, running experiments, and documenting outcomes for continuous improvement.

Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics

2:17:33 - 2:31:04

  • The speaker discusses the need for a more refined creative process to generate more YouTube videos.
  • There is a realization that the best use of time is either writing a book or making YouTube videos, but other tasks often take priority.
  • The speaker reflects on past achievements in academics and how transitioning to running a business with fewer tasks and more room for mistakes can be challenging.
  • There is a desire to be more experimental with content creation on the YouTube channel and to invest more time in the creative process.
  • The importance of prioritizing and focusing on key metrics like conversion rates, engagement, and monetization to potentially scale the business is highlighted.
  • Understanding the customer journey better, including how they find content, what they consume, and their specific needs before making a purchase, is seen as crucial for success.

Building an Audience on LinkedIn and Managing Revenue Streams

2:03:11 - 2:10:44

  • The speaker shares their experience of building an audience on LinkedIn by repurposing email newsletters into LinkedIn posts.
  • The speaker discusses the challenges of managing a business with multiple revenue streams and the importance of focusing on a core product or service.
  • There is a conversation about diversification to reduce platform reliance and exploring different monetization strategies like affiliates, sponsorships, and new products.
  • The speaker reflects on the dilemma of deploying excess capital, considering investments in hiring social media personnel or focusing on specific platforms for business growth.
  • There is a debate between the benefits of focusing on one core product versus having multiple products within a business.

Identifying Rate Limiting Steps and Improving Content Creation

1:56:58 - 2:10:44

  • Having multiple products can lead to organizational complexity and hinder focus and prioritization.
  • Identifying the rate limiting step in a business is crucial for growth.
  • The rate limiting step for the growth model discussed is the limited time allocated to focusing on the YouTube channel.
  • Increasing filming days or freeing up more time for creative work could unlock bottlenecks in content creation.
  • Improving the creative process and delegation of tasks can help generate more video content efficiently.

Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics

1:49:55 - 1:56:58

  • The speaker discusses the need for a more refined creative process to generate more YouTube videos.
  • There is a realization that the best use of time is either writing a book or making YouTube videos, but other tasks often take priority.
  • The speaker reflects on past achievements in academics and how transitioning to running a business with fewer tasks and more room for mistakes can be challenging.
  • There is a desire to be more experimental with content creation on the YouTube channel and to invest more time in the creative process.
  • The importance of prioritizing and focusing on key metrics like conversion rates, engagement, and monetization to potentially scale the business is highlighted.
  • Understanding the customer journey better, including how they find content, what they consume, and their specific needs before making a purchase, is seen as crucial for success.

Building a Core Creative Organization and Experimenting with Content

1:56:28 - 2:03:39

  • Focus on becoming the best in one or two channels to succeed.
  • Adding more people and effort may not always result in creating viral content.
  • Building a core creative organization and process is key for sustained success in content creation.
  • Prioritize creating fresh and engaging content for viewers over just aiming for views.
  • Experimenting with repurposing podcast interviews into YouTube videos has shown promising results.

Building an Audience on LinkedIn and Managing Revenue Streams

1:56:58 - 2:10:44

  • The speaker shares their experience of building an audience on LinkedIn by repurposing email newsletters into LinkedIn posts.
  • The speaker discusses the challenges of managing a business with multiple revenue streams and the importance of focusing on a core product or service.
  • There is a conversation about diversification to reduce platform reliance and exploring different monetization strategies like affiliates, sponsorships, and new products.
  • The speaker reflects on the dilemma of deploying excess capital, considering investments in hiring social media personnel or focusing on specific platforms for business growth.
  • There is a debate between the benefits of focusing on one core product versus having multiple products within a business.

Identifying Rate Limiting Steps and Improving Content Creation

2:03:11 - 2:17:59

  • Having multiple products can lead to organizational complexity and hinder focus and prioritization.
  • Identifying the rate limiting step in a business is crucial for growth.
  • The rate limiting step for the growth model discussed is the limited time allocated to focusing on the YouTube channel.
  • Increasing filming days or freeing up more time for creative work could unlock bottlenecks in content creation.
  • Improving the creative process and delegation of tasks can help generate more video content efficiently.

Refining the Creative Process and Prioritizing Key Metrics

2:10:18 - 2:24:41

  • The speaker discusses the need for a more refined creative process to generate more YouTube videos.
  • There is a realization that the best use of time is either writing a book or making YouTube videos, but other tasks often take priority.
  • The speaker reflects on past achievements in academics and how transitioning to running a business with fewer tasks and more room for mistakes can be challenging.
  • There is a desire to be more experimental with content creation on the YouTube channel and to invest more time in the creative process.
  • The importance of prioritizing and focusing on key metrics like conversion rates, engagement, and monetization to potentially scale the business is highlighted.
  • Understanding the customer journey better, including how they find content, what they consume, and their specific needs before making a purchase, is seen as crucial for success.

Understanding the Customer Journey and Building a Growth Mindset

2:17:33 - 2:31:04

  • Understanding the customer journey is crucial for creating good content and products.
  • Customer interviews of recent customers can provide valuable insights into their life and decision-making process.
  • Scientists make good growth people because they have a clear sense of the edge of their knowledge and are rigorous thinkers.
  • Developing curiosity about customers' journeys and limitations in understanding them can lead to better business decisions.
  • Separating business zones with specific growth strategies can help in building a business independent of personal activities.

Running Experiments and De-Risking Growth

2:24:13 - 2:31:04

  • Starting a business involves low success rates, especially without prior experience in building and selling companies.
  • Leveraging existing audience and connections can de-risk the process of finding new growth channels.
  • Running experiments to test different growth channels involves identifying ideas, focusing on key goals, assessing risks, and implementing low-risk strategies.

Prioritizing Experiments and Learning from Failures

2:30:40 - 2:33:45

  • Prioritize experiments based on the potential impact and learnings they can provide.
  • Formulate well-formed hypotheses before running experiments to guide decision-making.
  • Document predictions, results, and learnings from experiments to facilitate future decision-making.
  • Value the learning process even if most experiments fail, as it helps in refining ideas and execution abilities.
  • Encourage making predictions as a team, running experiments, and documenting outcomes for continuous improvement.
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