How to Manage Spoiled Millennials

“I’m not happy with my work right now,” I told my manager.

“What do you want to be doing?” he asked me.

“Creative work that I enjoy. And I want to be making more of an impact,” I said.

If you’ve ever managed a millennial you’ve probably had a conversation like this. My generation is spoiled, entitled, and determined to be happy every minute of the day. We think we should follow our passion, do what we love, and {insert another cliche piece of life advice from a Medium blog post here}. In other words, we’re a manager’s worst nightmare. But if you know the recipe to our fulfillment we’re easy to manage, hard working, and willing to do the grunt work. 

When I had that conversation with my manager about happiness, I was doing grungy work. My job was to build the sales development program at my company which meant cold emailing strangers and setting up appointments for the account executive team 8 hours a day. It was soul-less, and I told my manager I thought so. 

He understood, but it was one of the most important marketing and sales programs we could build as a B2B company. This put him in a tough spot: on the one hand, he didn’t want me to leave the company; but on the other hand he needed me to do the work. He handled the situation brilliantly.

-----

“You want to be a founder, right?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Well listen, Michael, I understand that it’s shitty work at times, but let me tell you about my job for a second. My equivalent of ‘creative work’ is product strategy, but do you think I work on that all day? No, that’s 5% of my job. The rest of it is creating sales quotas, looking at financial projections, and solving conflicts between teams. Being a founder is about solving the grungy details. If it was easy or fun, someone would have done it already and there wouldn’t be an opportunity in the first place.”

Ingredient One: Put the conversation in the context of their aspirations.

“Let me tell you what’s most important to the marketing team’s success right now. It’s two things: brand awareness and leads. We need people to hear about us and we need to send the sales team leads.”

Ingredient Two: Remind them of the goals of the company

“So here’s what I want you to do. Over the weekend think about what you’d want to do if you could work on anything at the company. As long as it helps achieve one of those goals you can work on it for the next 30 days for 50% of your time.”

Ingredient Three: Give them “guided autonomy”

I left the office that night more inspired than I had ever been at the company. And the reason was simple: my manager reminded me how my job fit into my career aspirations; he reinforced the goals of the company; and he gave me the autonomy to choose what to work on. 

-----

Over the weekend I thought about how I could make the biggest impact on the company. It turned out sales development was the answer. And so I went in to the office on Monday with an entirely new attitude. I was no longer doing soul-less work that someone had told me to do. I was pursuing my aspirations of being a successful founder. I was making an impact on the company. And I had the freedom to work on what I wanted. Same work, very different attitude.

In the time following that conversation sales development became the most cost effective marketing channel at the company. For every $1 spent, I generated $7 in revenue. And all I needed was a little millennial pep-talk.

Goodbye Country Club Sales

Great salespeople when my Dad entered the industry: Aggressive, well polished, masters of phycology and social skills. 

Great salespeople today: Knowledgeable, subject matter experts tasked at helping their prospects through the buyer’s journey. 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the industry of sales is changing. As many times as it’s been said, the statement is true: the entire sales industry is shifting and the dinosaur's are becoming extinct. 

Today great sales is about being a subject-matter expert, not a master of psychology and social skills. For anyone who has successfully sold a product in 2015 this will make sense, but to the junior salesman who just watched Glengarry Glen Ross this will be confusing.

A traditional Sales 101 course might suggest that rather than develop a deep understanding of your field, junior sales reps should read books on the theory of reciprocity and other buyer phycological tactics. But sales psychology is an optimization that can be used to sell 10% more. In order to see 10x gains, the aspiring salesman must study what they sell, not how to sell it. 

I’m going to say that again, because I think it’s one of the biggest shifts in our industry: The aspiring salesman must study what they sell, not how to sell it.

When a prospect enters your funnel it is for one reason: they have a business problem. They may need to cut server costs. Or maybe they need to improve their website’s performance. And there are two ways your company can help them solve that problem: The first is by putting your product in their workflow (duh). But the second is one that many sales teams miss. It is education through the buying process. And great sales teams begin to solve prospects' problems before ever asking for a credit card. 

Hubspot is a great example of a sales team that solves problem’s throughout the entire sales cycle. When you request a demo a Sales Development Representative will look at your website and offer three suggested improvements. Then when you talk to an Account Executive they may teach you about how to use Twitter to drive more leads. Before ever spending a dollar with Hubspot you can increase your website traffic.

But none of this is possible without subject matter expertise. In other words, you gotta know your shit to educate your prospects. 

In his recent book, Hubspot’s CRO and former VP of Sales writes about his criteria for hiring sales. At the top of the list: subject matter expertise. In other words, he was more interested in hiring experts in marketing than in sales. The lowest trait on that list, you ask? Aggressive sales behavior. 

30 years ago when my Dad entered the world of business, sleezy salespeople could get away with tricks and manipulation. That's because the balance of information was skewed towards the salesperson. But today, that doesn’t fly. The internet has made markets transparent and more competitive. If you use buyer phycology tricks to sell the wrong product to a prospect you’ll pay the price on social media and in forums.

If you want to be the best salesperson on your sales floor put down Daniel Pink and other sales psychology books. Call up your best customer, take them to lunch, and ask them what problems they face every day. After the meeting go and solve that problem for them. Then go down the list and do this for your best customers once a month.

Do this and you’ll be every customer’s best friend. You’ll have the largest book of reference customers on your team. And most importantly you’ll know exactly how to solve every prospect’s problems. That's great sales. 

 

Sick of prospecting and building lists? Try a free trial of SimpleData's concierge-like lead generation service.

How I Lost Half My Customers and Still Grew Revenue 100% in August

In early July I woke up in a tent, stepped outside, and breathed in Big Sur’s salty air. I was 100 miles away from an office I should have been sitting in. But that office was behind me — for good. After all, I was making $5,000 per month on the side which was enough to cover my rent and Instacart groceries.

The passive income dream was alive and well on this beautiful morning. However, an unfortunate reality of dream-state is that we all must wake up. 

After a lazy morning, I started driving back to San Francisco. Along the way, I stopped in Carmel to get a coffee. I checked my email and opened two threads that made my stomach drop. 

Michael,
We’d like to put things on pause for a while.
Sincerely,
 — Two customers paying a combined $2,000 / mo

Two emails informed me that 40% of my revenue had evaporated. 

Shit. 

Those of you who are well-versed in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) economics will recognize this as a churn problem. Churn is the metric that tells a business how many customers they are losing. If revenue is a hose filling up your bucket, churn is a leak in the bottom of that bucket. 

I didn’t have a leak though. I had a hole. 

In order to double my revenue in August I would need to find $5,000 in revenue plus the additional $2,000 that I lost. And that was assuming no more customers churned. 

This left me with two options: 

  1. Fix the leak in my bucket
  2. Fill the bucket with more water

I decided on the latter and searched desperately for a hose to fill my bucket. 

 

Behavioral Data Was Our Silver Bullet To Growth in August

In order to grow quickly I knew I'd need to find a quick-to-convert channel. I needed a growth channel that would get me pitching prospects immediately. I did as all great founders do and ate my own dogfood. I used SimpleData. 

I’ve always had mixed feelings about outbound email. On the one hand it’s how sales is done today, and a cold email is much less abrasive than a cold call. But on the other hand, it’s resemblance to spam is scary close. No one — including me — likes spam. 

The difference between good outbound sales and spam is simple though. 

Good sales strategy: Using a combination of demographic and behavioral data to send emails to prospects who want to hear from you. 
Spam: Spraying and praying thousands of people hoping that a tiny fraction will respond.

Let me explain.

If you are desperately in need of something and I email you with an opportunity to buy that thing, you are likely to be happy. But if you are a 60 years old overweight male and I try selling you women’s yoga pants, you’ll probably flag my email as spam. That’s the difference. 

I used my ideal customer profile to find myself in the “good outbound sales” category. As a refresher from a previous blog post here’s that profile: 

Startup founders that don’t have time to prospect but want to find new customers.
Sales teams that need to hit a high quota and need a way to accelerate lead flow, pipeline, and revenue.

This ideal customer profile gave me demographic information (tech industry, small company, B2B, etc.), but it didn’t give me the behavioral element that is so important. I needed to find a trigger that indicated a company’s need for prospect lists. 

Then it hit me! A company hiring a sales development rep (SDR) would likely need prospects for that SDR to email and call. And all of those companies list open positions on sites like LinkedIn, Craigslist and Indeed.com. Suddenly, I had a combination of demographic and behavioral data to run a targeted email campaign. 

The results were staggering:

22% reply rate over 3 emails
$78,000 in pipeline
$4,800 / mo in net new monthly revenue

Here’s the strategy I used to do this (including email templates):

Going through the tedious task of prospecting this list of companies and prospects would have taken me an entire day. I’ll save you the self-indulgent SimpleData plug, and say there was no way I was doing this. 

I gave the following instructions to the SimpleData team:

Step 1 — Go to Linkedin jobs section

Screenshot 2015-09-18 09.58.50.png

Step 2 — Go to “Advanced Search”

Then enter the following:
Job title = “Sales Development Representative”
Country= “United States”

You should see 559 results and the following

Screenshot 2015-09-18 10.00.18.png

Please prospect the following job titles at all companies that are hiring an SDR:

  • VP of Sales
  • Director of Sales Development
  • Sales Development Manager

I sent emails to about 150 prospects in my first campaign. Here were the three templates that I used:

Subject line: Your SDR position on LinkedIn
Hi {{first_name}},
I noticed your open SDR position on LinkedIn and wanted to reach out.
For the last year I was an SDR at Highfive. I learned everything I know from Aaron Ross and Max Altschuler. And during that time I realized how many hours I was spending building lists.
I decided to leave Highfive and start a company that enables companies to outsource their prospecting. As you grow your SDR team does that seem like something that would be useful?
Would love to get your feedback, and get you started on a free trial if it makes sense!

Results:
57% open rate
10.7% response rate

Subject line: Persistent founder
Hi {{first_name}},
“Energy and persistence conquer all things”
Quotes like that always get me fired up! Read that one this morning on GoodQuotes and thought I’d reach out to you again.
Do you have 7 minutes this week to touch base and see if there is a mutual fit between SimpleData and {{company}} regarding lead generation?
I also feel like a great sales email should have puppies in it so…
(image of cute puppies that is being difficult to upload to this post..)

Results:
48.1% open rate
2.7% response rate (ouch!)

Subject line: Should I call for help?
Hi {{first_name}},
I’ve reached out a couple times and have not heard back which tells me one of three things:
1. Everyone at {{company}} is all set on the prospecting front.
2. You’re interested in SimpleData, but haven’t had the time to respond.
3. You are being chased by a hippo and need me to call for help.
(image of hippo chasing man that is also being difficult to upload to this post..)
Please let me know, as I am beginning to worry…

Results:
46% open rate
8.9% response rate

As I mentioned, the entire campaign led to about 10 conversations, $78,000 in pipeline and $4,800 / mo in net new monthly revenue. Most importantly though, this is now a repeatable outbound strategy that we’ll use for the next 6 months (every day dozens of sales job are posted on sites like LinkedIn, Craigslist, Indeed.com and others).

How you can use this to grow your business

There’s nothing about this strategy that is unique to my company. In principle there are 4 steps to developing a similar strategy for your business:

Build a narrow ideal customer profile
There's an old saying that goes something like, "Pick a niche and get rich." This is so important to consider when you develop an ideal customer profile. At it's core this means finding the lowest hanging fruit, the early adopters, the people that will buy quickly and give feedback. 

Build an account/prospect list
Use a combination of demographic data and behavioral data to actually find a list of your ideal customers. This may take some creativity. Ask questions like "Where are my customers hanging out online?" LinkedIn can be a great source of demographic data. But finding behavioral data usually requires going a step further. If your ideal customer uses a certain technology try checking out BuiltWith. We'll go into more detail on this concept in later posts!

Write targeted messaging
Get creative in the way you reach out to prospects. Don't write them an essay. Keep it short, sweet, and personal. Tell them why you are reaching out to them. Then tell them what you offer (in two sentences or less). And finally, make a direct ask (e.g. "Do you have time for a phone call on Tuesday?") More to come on this as well!

Test, test, test (this wasn’t our first rodeo)
Email 250-500 prospects and then review the data. Use a tool like Outreach, PersistIQ, or Cadence to track positive response rate and optimize for that. Change your subject line if the open rate is low. Change your ask if the response rate is low. And be religious about tracking the data. Email me if you want advice on how to use data to inform strategy. It's the thing I'm most passionate about!


At the end of the month I took a look at my dashboard and realized that I had successfully doubled revenue despite my churn problem. I added $7,000 in booked revenue and lost $2,000, which netted $5,000 and a 100% month over month growth rate. 

Many of you are probably thinking, "Sure, you doubled revenue this month, but 40% churn is going #$@! you again next month!" And you're right, churn is a pain. But I have some thoughts on this problem that I'll share next week! Stay tuned.

 

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How I Built a $5k/mo Side Project in 5 Months (longform post)

Passive income. The 4 hour work week. The dream, as my cousin referred to it recently. As a millennial there are few things that rank as desirable as finding a recurring source of income that doesn’t take much work (or a boss). In April of this year I decided to give “the dream” a shot and set out to build a side project that could pay my bills while I watched Netflix.

Last month I booked $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR). I’m on track to double that this month. And what started as my 4 hour work week dream has turned into a new way of work, and of life. 

This is the story of how I came up with the idea, found customers and built a business in one of the most competitive markets in business. I’ve structured it as a playbook and my hope is that it will help you build your 4 hour dream. 

Play #1 — Monetize your brain

The thesis of this project was simple: take what is in my head and monetize it. In other words, build a business that leverages all of the skills that I’ve learned over the last three years of entrepreneurship, marketing and sales. This gave me a foundation for what to look for in business ideas. 

When I started SkyRocket — my last (failed) startup — I solved someone else’s problem which meant the time-to-market was significantly longer and the investment had to be much larger. I had to stay up late in the night reading industry journals just to be on the same playing field as my competition. This time I didn’t want to do that. 

With that in mind I decided to solve a problem in the sales development space. At Highfive I made a name for myself as a “saleshacker” by applying some basic web scraping and front end development to my job. I had carved out a niche by applying what I knew about technology to sales. This was my unique skill, and I wanted to monetize it. 

Play #2 — Find the pain

Finding a skill that I could use as leverage pointed me in the right direction, but in order to actually make money I knew I’d need more clarity. I needed the specifics of what problem I would solve, who I’d solve it for and how it would make money. And all of that could be found if I were able to answer a simple question: what do people in sales development need, and is there any pain in the current process of achieving that?

As I thought about problems to solve I remembered a story one of Highfive’s account executives told me. She was $5,000 short of quota (her quarterly revenue goal) and the only way to hit it was to email and call as many people as she possibly could to see if they needed video conferencing. In order to get that list of people she stayed up until 1am and built a prospect list (a spreadsheet of people to reach out to). 1am is painful. 1am is opportunity for improvement. 

When I took over the Sales Development effort at Highfive the first thing I did was hire a team in the Philipinnes to ensure I never had to stay up until 1am building lists — or build any lists for that matter! I made a couple videos with instructions, bought some tools and found a virtual assistant on oDesk named Jonathan. For most sales development reps building lists can take two hours out of their day. I had eliminated it entirely. 

When I put two and two together I realized that sales development outsourcing was an idea worth pursuing. If I could prevent salespeople from having an end of quarter frenzy like my co-worker, I could probably make a buck. 

Play #3 — Competition isn’t always a bad thing

In March of 2015 I decided that I would build a sales outsourcing side project. The goal would be to provide a turn-key service for sales teams to request leads. But there was a problem with the idea: the market was highly competitive. Whenever I told people about what I was building they replied, “Oh something like [competitor].” Most people I spoke with told me I shouldn’t build the business for this reason. That’s when I learned play #3. 

Most people I bump into in San Francisco are brainwashed by Silicon Valley group think. These people believe that every business must have a billion dollar opportunity. This isn’t true, especially for side projects. In fact, when pursuing the passive income dream competition is your friend. Let me explain. 

Competitive markets are by their very nature mature markets. And the more mature a market, the less time and money a business has to spend educating that market on the problem. Think about real examples. Coca-cola isn’t spending money on ads telling you why you should drink soda. They spend money telling you why Coke is better than Pepsi. Soylent — the future of food startup — on the other hand must spend money educating people on why they should drink their food. In order to succeed Soylent will have to spend tens of millions of dollars and years in the market. 

Creating a new soda to compete with Coke would take less time and money than creating a new food and beverage category entirely (like Soylent). Coke has spent billions educating people on why they should drink soda. And you could educate people on why they need to drink your soda specifically. Granted, the long term opportunity may be smaller. That’s besides the point. The passive income dream isn’t about making billions, it’s about making thousands per month and doing it quick. 

So is it better to create a “future of food” side project or a soda side project? I put my money on the mature, yet competitive market. 

Play #4 — Find a position in the market

By April I decided that competition wasn’t going to stop me from starting a sales outsourcing startup. But in the back of my head I heard the voice of one of my mentors — Highfive’s VP of Product Marketing. I recalled a lesson he gave me during a 1:1 at Backyard Coffee in Redwood City. 

When you hear Volvo what comes to mind? Scandanavians, but more importantly you probably think “Safe car.” How about Honda? Odds are “Reliable car” came to mind. This is the basic idea of positioning. What comes to mind when people hear {company name}?
The concept of positioning is incredibly important when starting a business because it determines who will buy your product. A product with no positioning that sells to “everyone” is likely to sell to no one. That’s because people need to identify with your product and brand in order to buy. 

To put this in context I’ll give an example of positioning in my life. I no longer buy Abercombie and Fitch because they position themselves as the high end clothing brand for middle schoolers. I do buy from Urban Outfitters though because as Highfive’s VP of Sales liked to say, I’m a wannabe “mission hipster.” 

Previously I thought positioning was just another business school buzzword. But it’s important. At it’s core, positioning means “Pick a niche to get rich.” Isn’t the entire point of a side project to get rich?

In order to find a unique position in the market you must look at the competitive landscape. When I looked at the lead generation space I realized that companies fell into three categories:

Platforms: Data.com, Hoovers and DiscoverOrg are all examples of companies that charge annually for a set amount of lead exports from their platform. These databases are sold to thousands of companies which means everyone is emailing the same person. This results in worse response rates for their customer. And the average cost is about $30,000 per year (billed upfront). Ouch. Bad data for a high price. 

Service-as-a-service: LeadGenius is an example of a company that charges annually for a team that prospects for you. Great concept, but there business model is built to work for them, not the customer. The cost is about $24,000 upfront ($2,000 per month billed annually). Not so great for a startup on a tight budget with changing business needs. 

Freelancers: oDesk and Elance are examples of platforms where you can hire your own virtual assistant team to prospect. Customers have to train their team and the billing is variable so your cost per lead ranges from $.50 to $5. Cheap entry point, but time intensive and unpredictable. 

I knew that there was an opportunity to create a turn-key service with a pricing model that customers could love. And thus, the first pay-as-you-go lead generation service was born!

Play #5 — Reverse the Way You Want to Sell

At the end of April a friend of mine introduced me to someone who needed help building prospect lists. After work one day I prepared for my first official sales call. Fortunately I had sold mobile apps in college, and helped develop Highfive’s first call deck so I was able to take what I knew and build a five step sales process (see play #1):

~2 min — (Rapport) Ask how his day is going. Tell him how we were introduced and see if we have any common connections. 

~1 min — (Our value prop) Give a 30–60 second pitch on what value SimpleData offers. (Note: the goal isn’t to sell them. You want to assure them this call is worth their time and then ask them questions.)

~5–10 min — (Context and qualification) Tell him that I want to make sure I direct the conversation in the best possible way and in order to do that I’d like to ask a couple questions. Ask what products they currently use, what their sales and marketing goals are this year and how they currently go about building prospect lists. (Note: this usually encourages the prospect to tell you their problems and what they are looking for).

~5–10 min — (Solution) Explain how SimpleData fits into their current sales and marketing process, how it can help them hit their goals, and how it makes their prospecting process more efficient. 

~5 min — (Pricing and next steps) Tell him about our pricing and free trial program. Ask the prospect what would make a trial successful? In other words, what can I do to win your business? 

It’s important to note that I didn’t do any selling until about halfway through the call. I speak with a lot of founders who have their first call process backwards. They get on the phone, build some rapport and then sell. Then they ask, “Does that sound like it will work for you?” This makes for an unpersonalized pitch that is hard for a prospect to relate to. When you say that you help small businesses do XYZ they think “We’re a mid-size company, so this won’t work.” Then the last half of the call is spent backpedaling and rephrasing your pitch. 

I spent the first 15 minutes of my first sales call asking questions. When asked to describe SimpleData I resisted the urge to sell and instead offered a very high level value proposition. “SimpleData helps businesses spend less time doing busy work so that they can spend more time selling.” What person doesn’t want to spend less time doing busy work so they can make more money? My initial pitch was high level enough for anyone to relate to it. After this brief description, I peppered my prospect with questions that would give me the context to personalize a more in-depth pitch later. 

Ultimately this sales process helped me land my first 5 customers. But you’re probably more interested in where I found them in the first place. That leads to Play # 6. 

Play #6 Get Scrappy and Do What You Know

When friends ask me where I found my first 5 customers I have a hard time describing it any other way than responding, “I was scrappy.” Paul Graham would call this Doing Things That Don’t Scale. And I thought I’d describe what that meant for me and how it lead to $5,000 / mo in revenue.

As I mentioned, my first lead/opportunity came from an introduction. That was made possible when I took a couple friends (who are salespeople) out for drinks to tell them what I was working on. Afterwards they both said they would try to think of people to refer me to. My first customer closed 2 days after the introduction was made (referrals always have a shorter time to close). My first customer came from the simple concept of asking friends for help. 

My next two customers came from a less obvious channel. A friend told me about a service called Growth Geeks and suggested I create a profile for my service. I was hesitant at first because it seemed like a distraction, but I signed up nonetheless. After receiving a couple marketing emails from the company I sent this email to the founder:

He responded that day and asked if I had time to speak on the phone. On the call I learned that he was one of the guys behind Growth Hacker TV (so cool!) and he had a customer who needed 2,000 leads a month and they needed 2,000 leads a month for themselves! I used the same sales process as my first call and closed two deals in 30 minutes worth $3,000 / mo (25% of the $4,000 in revenue went to Growth Geeks). Suddenly I went from $1,000/mo to $4,000 / mo. 

Later that week I decided it was time to double down on this side project. I spent a couple nights writing email templates and planning outbound email campaigns. By May of 2015 I had sent over 30,000 sales and marketing emails so I knew how to get high response rates (see play #1). I knew outbound email (also called direct sales) would be an effective customer acquisition channel. I also had experience with it so I spent all my energy over the next month on this channel. 

I sent emails to about 500 people over the course of a month which resulted in ~20 free trial sign ups. (To date about 30% of those have closed as paying customers) Two of those free trials converted within the month and by the end of June I had $5,000 in booked MRR. 

Many marketers (especially at startups) make the mistake of chasing too many rabbits. They pursue too many channels (social media, eBooks, webinars, paid ads, etc.) at once. The result is a lack of focus and steep learning curves. This delays what I’ll call time-to-ROI in a similar way that market maturity delays time-to-market. The marketer or founder would be wise to focus on a couple channels early and expand when one of the following conditions is met:

a/ You have exhausted the channel (e.g. you’ve emailed your entire customer segment)
b/ You have developed a repeatable process that can be executed by an employee or contractor. 

In summary, here is SimpleData’s distribution of customers and revenue by lead source:

Being scrappy — 3 customers ($4,000 / mo in revenue) 
Outbound email — 1 customer ($500 / mo in revenue)
Content marketing — 1 customer ($500/mo in revenue)

Play #7 Don’t Lose Perspective

The last play in this playbook isn’t about market positioning, sales technique or growth hacks to help you find customers. But I think it’s the most important play. 

Late one night after reaching my first $1,000 / mo in revenue I received an email. It was from my first customer and immediately I knew it wasn’t good. I had sent him 100 leads that morning before work and he emailed me to inform me that nearly every one of them was outside of his ideal customer profile. For my business this is the equivalent of a 24 hour server outage. My heart rate increased, I felt my palms get sweaty, and I stormed into my room to investigate what happened. 

Eventually I solved the problem, called my customer, and refunded the $100. He wasn’t stressed at all. He realized he was an early customer and the road would be a bit bumpy. So while I was freaking out imagining the end of the world as I knew it, my customer was probably watching Netflix with his family. 

That night I lost my sense of perspective. I had forgotten that this was a side project, that it was early stage, that all problems can be solved. And so I ruined one night of my life. 

I’ve probably ruined 100 nights over the last three years due to similar problems — an email from my boss, a server outage during my last startup, rejection from an important prospect. In retrospect all of those problems were tiny and none of them were worth boiling my own blood over. 

Today, I remind myself that work is a sport. It’s not life. Whether you’re working on a startup, side project or contributing to a larger company, the place where you work should be a place where you go to grow, interact with people, and have fun. It should never be a place where you derive unhealthy stress, anxiety or fear. 

I started SimpleData to gain financial freedom. My goal was to replace my salary so that I wasn’t dependent on it. At the end of June I gave my two weeks. I wanted to live a life of balance and felt that a side project was the bridge to that. 

It’s been almost two months since I left the company. In that time my hours have ranged from 10 to 40 hours per week. I’ve taken 3 vacations, spent most of my time working outdoors, and still managed to double revenue. I’m on track to bill $10,000 in revenue this month. But this is not my greatest sense of pride — it’s the way I’ve done this and the calm mentality I’ve kept that I’m most proud of. What started as a side project has become a new way of work, and of life. And it’s one that I encourage everyone to explore. 

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