CEO and founder of customer support startup Groove Alex Turnbull is publishing everything the company learns as it tries to crack its first $100,000 in monthly revenue.
His blog is an account of the Rhode Island company’s hard-learned lessons, good and bad.
“I think most founders have an instinctive gut reaction to keep their private data private,” Turnbull said.
“But my goal is to overcome that reaction in my own mind, and convince other founders that by sharing more than we hide, we can all become better at business.”
Launching the blog in September 2013, the company then had a monthly revenue of $28,525 and 1,901 subscribers. As of March 2014, Groove reported its monthly revenue had climbed to $48,650.
Turnbull said the blog has grown to become Groove’s biggest source of new customers.
“I get emails from people every week telling me that they signed up because of how much they’ve learned from the transparency in our blog,” he said.
“Being open with information makes our business more human and relatable. People see the ups and the downs, the epic wins and the embarrassing mistakes, and they grow attached to us not just as a business, but as a team. “
Here are some the lessons Turnbull has learnt along the way:
1. Don’t let competition deter you
Competition means there’s demand in the marketplace and you shouldn’t let that worry you, Turnbull writes.
“Just because there are solutions out there, doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone,” he said.
“You can create a profitable company serving a small niche in a competitive market.”
2. Scaling is the hardest thing Groove has ever had to do
While developing a product that had market fit was difficult, Turnbull said scaling it was harder.
He said as Groove tries to scale its offering the team’s focus is being diverted and costs are going up, and problems are amplified.
“When we had a major outage that crippled us for an entire day, people knew it,” Turnbull said.
“It wasn’t just an issue for our handful of customers anymore; it created hundreds and hundreds of rightfully frustrated customers, and was seen by hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter.
“That’s a lot more damage to our brand, and a lot more trust that we had to win back.”
3. It’s ok to be scared
Being afraid of fear isn’t a bad thing because that scared feeling is what motivates Turnbull.
He said being scared of letting customers or investors down drives him to make better business decisions.
But that doesn’t mean launching a ‘reveal all’ blog wasn’t a big scary step for Turnbull.
“When we first started, I was worried about what repercussions posting our information might have. That fear stemmed simply from so-called ‘common knowledge” dictating that you play your cards close to your chest,” he said.
Turnbull said in the last six months he’s realised that fear is totally unfounded.
“We’ve not only helped thousands of readers overcome their own challenges by sharing our experiences but we’ve gotten amazing insights and ideas from people who read our story and offer feedback,” he said.
“The payoff has certainly been tremendous.”
There’s more here.
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