Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs who constantly surprise me about how well they’re doing with their businesses. And today’s guest more than most. I had this whole thing in mind. I’ve known Trent Dyrsmid not super well but I’ve known him for years. He’s a guy who’s had a podcast. And so because of the podcast, I’ve gotten to know him. He’s been on my podcast and because of that, I gotten to know him. And I had a sense of what we were going to talk about today was how he got into Amazon reselling. And like a lot of people at Amazon, he kind of got slaughtered, eventually, slowly, didn’t even feel it.
And then I thought what he was going to say was, “But, Andrew, I’m back and I’ve got this new software called Flowster. It’s brand new and one day it’s going to make money. And so I’m going to tell you my sad story of how Amazon is doing in exchange for you helping me tell the story about how the software is going to do great. And that’s going to be my thing.” It turns out the software is not going to be great. It already is doing great. All right. How do you get it to do this well? Let me back up a second and then we’ll get into the interview where we go into more detail. So Trent had a podcast. And actually I’m blanking on the name of your podcast, Trent. What is it?
Trent: It’s BrightIdeas.co.
Trent: And it’s been around for about eight years now.
Andrew: There it is. Actually, I’m staring at it on my screen since 2010, to the present, according to LinkedIn. And so there it is “Bright Ideas.” He got into Amazon. The first thing that he did on Amazon didn’t go well. The second thing did well, and partially it did well because he’s one of these guys who’s into SOPs, standard operating procedures, documenting their stuff. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this since basically the beginning of Mixergy. I used to think, “This is just too anal a way to run a company. It’s not the way to run a company in a changing environment.” And then I finally just realized I should document things and then I documented and things actually got good. And then I stopped documenting because things were good and who wants to go back and document.
Anyway, I’ve had a love-hate relationship. For him, it helped him take his Amazon business from being just kind of painful to one that grew really fast. And then he created this software that allowed anyone to create standard operating procedures for themselves, for their team. And he’s doing something kind of different from anyone else who’s offering anything like this, which is he’s saying, “I’ll actually sell you some standard operating procedures. I’ll give you the checklist of things to do if you want to sell on Amazon. I’ve done it. It’s doing well for me. Here’s my checklist. Buy it from me, put it in my software and have it manage it. And then you could create your own checklist or buy it from other people on my platform.” His company’s only been around since 2018. So about a year old, right, Trent?
Trent: We launched it to the public last October actually.
Andrew: Okay, that’s a less than a year old and still . . . I was going to say how well it’s doing but I’m going to let him say it. We’re going to find out is how this guy got into standard operating procedures. The least sexy thing you could ever say to somebody is SOP. It’s a good thing you’re married. Imagine you’re out and you go, “What do you do?” And she says, “What do you do?” You say SOP, standard operating . . . no, it does not sound sexy but it is. It is. If you’re a real entrepreneur, you care about this stuff.
Right. We can talk about this interview thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first will help you hire your next great developer. Trent, you need to find out about them. They’re called Toptal. And the second has been doing my accounting for . . . I wonder who does Trent’s accounting. We’ll find out about it. I have now turned my books over completely to Pilot and I freaking love it. I want to marry pilot.com. Tell me if it’s inappropriate. All right. But we’ll talk about those later. Flowster, what’s the revenue like?
Trent: Honestly, it’s not a huge source of revenue if I just count the software subscription. So you have to understand what I call my three stack of my business. On the bottom is the Amazon thing.
Andrew: Well, you’re selling things on Amazon.
Trent: Yeah. We do a couple million bucks a year. I’m not involved day-to-day. I haven’t been involved day-to-day since about the first 12 months. My wife, we own this big building here. And at the other end of the building, she runs it with a team of U.S. employees and virtual assistants. That business is the proof that my standard operating procedures works. So the standard operating procedures typically sell for about 2,500 bucks. We sell about a million dollars of those a year. And when someone buys all of that content, it has to live somewhere. And so the somewhere that we created is the Flowster software application. What I can tell you about Flowster is we have somewhere north of 1,000 users. We spent a year developing it. And we have already recovered all of our development costs through sales of software licenses.
Andrew: So when you say a million dollars a year, does that mean a million dollars since October when you launched it?
Trent: So the SOPs, that purchase happens through my Bright Ideas brand. That’s a million dollars a year.
Andrew: And how long has that been going on?
Trent: Actually, it’s growing a little bit beyond that now. So we’ve been doing that for maybe about a year and a half?
Andrew: Got it. Wow. So when you say a million a year, you’re not annualizing the last few months of revenue, you actually had a full year under your belt. And so before Flowster, what housed all these standard operating procedures? This checklist of things.
Trent: Yeah. When we originally created them, it was a Google Doc or Google Docs.
Andrew: Okay. So you sold Google Docs at first?
Trent: No. No, no. And then when we first launched it, so I didn’t create it for it to be a product. That’s a whole nother story. I created it just to scratch my own itch. And eventually we were using a competitor’s software application. And always I don’t feel like saying their name. So that’s kind of irrelevant, but we were using their software when I didn’t have a product. And then I got on that stage and I told my story and everybody said, “Hey, I want to buy a copy of these things.” That’s when I realized that we needed to make a software application so that we could own that piece of the business as well.
Andrew: Instead of . . . I don’t know who you used it for a while but let’s assume like something like Asana, right? Because Asana’s kind of free.
Trent: Something like that.
Andrew: You can create a checklist and then sell that checklist. Got it. Instead of using someone else’s software, you said, “This is an opportunity. I might as well while I’m selling it create my software.” Got it. All right, let’s go back to what happened. You’re an entrepreneur who I thought was like a lifelong entrepreneur. But as you were talking with our producer, you said, “Look, I was never the lemonade stand type of person.” I wonder what type of person you were growing up. I want to get a sense of who you were before you became who you are.
Trent: So I grew up in a really poor family. We were on welfare at times. And there was a lot of fighting in the house between my parents because of financial scarcity. And so as a kid, I just I guess I developed this belief in my head somewhere that poverty equals violence, and I don’t like violence. So I thought a lot, “I don’t want to be poor. I don’t want to live my life like we have.” And so I went into sales because somebody smarter than me when I was really young, said, you know, “You could go to college,” which I didn’t, “Or you could get a sales job and make commissions working for other people.” So I thought, “Well, yeah, that sounds like a good idea to me.” So I went down that road, which is about as entrepreneurial as you can get without being an entrepreneur. And after my first . . . my first job was selling office equipment. I did really, really well at it.
And then I used that track record to get . . . so I grew up in Canada, and I got one of the . . . there’s five really big banks in Canada and each one of them has a brokerage division. And I got hired at one of those divisions when I was 23. And so I was the youngest hire they’d ever had. And I made . . . that was the top of my class. And there’s actually an article floating around James Clear wrote it about . . . it’s in his book “Atomic Habits” about how I would have these two paperclip jars on my desk and I every time I’d get on the phone . . .
Andrew: I remember that.
Trent: . . . [inaudible 00:07:39] paperclip. And I made 25,000 cold calls in my first year. And that’s why I was the most . . . I wasn’t the smartest. I wasn’t the most educated. I just out-hustled everybody else.
Andrew: Right. You got into podcasting and you did it largely because you want to learn, you want to get to know the people who are there. Meanwhile, though, you did start to get an audience. People were listening to your podcast. And they were reaching out to you trying to hire you to do what?
Trent: So when I first started my podcast, I realized that small businesses in general would really benefit from all the ways that you can generate leads online, which I had been learning for the last year, year and a half in running my very first blog. And so I decided, “Well, I’m going to talk all about lead generation and marketing automation, particularly around the Infusionsoft platform,” because I’ve used that for years. And so I was developing this ongoing body of content, and people would naturally reach out and say, “Hey, I’ve been following you for a while. I really like what you’re doing. I’m on your list. I like how your marketing automation workflows work. I don’t know how to make all that stuff. Can we just hire you to do it?” And that’s kind of where the marketing agency came from.
Andrew: And you were working with clients. A lot of them were small, but there was one especially big client. What was that client like?
Trent: So as the agency developed over the years that we ran it, eventually we kind of pivoted to becoming what’s known as a content marketing agency. And so we became a HubSpot partner. And at one point in time, HubSpot referred us what was a pretty big client for us anyway. And so they started paying us a couple $100,000 a year to create content for them. And I’m really happy to say that they were the most obscure business ever. But about a year into it, the CEO said to me, he said, “Man, oh, man, you were right, this content stuff really works.” And they were getting all these crazy opportunities with huge partners in their space that never happened before that. So that was pretty cool. And that relationship lasted a couple of years until they really didn’t need any more leads, given what their objectives were. And so they gave us notice they weren’t going to renew the contract.
Andrew: And how did that impact you?
Trent: Well, that was pretty scary because we had small child time. You know, we had some savings, but not a huge, huge, huge amount. And we were just like, “Wow, okay, so now we actually have to either go out and hustle and get more clients.” And I didn’t want to deal with little clients anymore because, you know, I get tired of it. And right around them, that was when I decided that I was going to make the pivot to ecommerce. And I was influenced by some of my friends who I’d had on my own show. And they were doing ecommerce and they were literally harassing me to get into it. And I was like, “No, I want to do it. I want to do it. I want to do it.”
But then when the client said, you know, “We’re not going to renew,” I said to my wife, I said, “Look, I don’t want to do a professional services business anymore. I’ve done this type of business now for over a decade. I just don’t want to do it. I want to move to a product-based business.” So I started my Amazon gig as a side project. And I didn’t do really very well in the beginning to be honest with you.
Andrew: I’m going to find out why. But before we do, I always sense that you hadn’t hit your stride for a long time with Bright Ideas.
Trent: No, I hadn’t.
Andrew: You hadn’t. But you are a guy who had had success before that. What’s that like? I feel like it’s really challenging to struggle in public and not . . . and being a business speaking to a business crowd.
Trent: Yeah, it was frustrating and humiliating at the same time because I served other people who had shows like mine. And, I mean, my show has average rating is five stars. And I don’t get as many downloads as other people. And I just could never figure out why. And I think I know why it is. Because in the beginning, Andrew, I didn’t really have products. I didn’t really know how to monetize my audience very well. So my Bright Ideas podcast was a great networking tool for me but it wasn’t really how I made any of my money to speak of. So it never was my top priority.
So sometimes I wouldn’t produce episodes for months at a time. At one point, I didn’t produce an episode for a year. And so you lose your audience and you lose your momentum when that happens. And also for several years, my podcast was about marketing agencies. And now it’s all about ecommerce. So if I had consistently produced episodes on one topic for the last four or five years, I’m sure my audience would be much bigger than it is.
Andrew: But then it still wouldn’t necessarily have been profitable because you hadn’t figured out what that profit engine was. And that’s the challenge, right? When you’re talking to . . . I’ve been there with Mixergy and I’ve talked about it publicly. And I feel like by talking about it, I was actually hurting myself because people don’t want to listen to somebody in the business space who is talking about his challenges and frustrations and things aren’t working well. They want to hear that he made it and then can go back and look at all the times when he didn’t make it. You know, it’s not inspiring and we want to feel inspired. So it’s challenging. It’s painful.
Trent: Oh, yeah, no question it was. And in my case, like I said, I chose to really focus my energies on the underlying ecommerce business, which was the pivot that we made. And thankfully, once I got my strategy figured out, that worked extremely well. And then, by accident, that success led to my Bright Ideas becoming now the most profitable thing that I do by a good margin.
Andrew: Well, let’s then understand, when you got into Amazon, it was, “All right, I’ve got to start making some money. Somebody is telling me that there’s money here. I see it.” You get in and it doesn’t work out because?
Trent: Because I didn’t know what I was doing. So there’s several ways that people can sell on Amazon. My two friends were doing what’s called the private label approach. And I didn’t even know that there was any other approach. I just thought, “Oh, that’s how you sell on Amazon.” Because, again, I knew nothing about ecommerce. And so, you know, I’m like everybody else, I’m looking for product opportunities, what’s got enough demand but not too much competition. And I picked two products.
One of them was a dog bark collar that would give a dog a shock. And another one was an essential oil diffuser necklace. And I thought, you know, “I’m a confident guy. I’m a business guy. I’m going to pick reasonably competitive products and I’m just going to like claw my way to the top.” Well, you can guess how that turned out. I ended up having to spend so much money on advertising that there was no profit left. And after four or five months of that, I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel.
Andrew: It’s the whole like Alibaba thing, get stuff from there. Were you putting your label on it too before selling it?
Trent: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: You were? And how . . .
Trent: And not even custom packaging. I mean, I was literally doing what I now affectionately called China Arbitrage. You’re just buying a thing off Alibaba and slapping your sticker on it, throwing it on Amazon. And years ago, that used to work pretty well. But those days are long gone.
Andrew: Oh, I love that name China Arbitrage. I know that there are people who are doing it, many of whom I interviewed weren’t doing well. Like Cathryn from Best Self, the journal and more company, she started out that way too. And it didn’t work because they were just too many people doing it at that point. And then you had to buy a bunch of ads to stand out. Got it. Okay. And then something happened that helped you see a better way to do it. What was that?
Trent: So I interviewed a guy by the name of Dan Meadors on my show, and that is the first moment that I became aware of the fact that I could go to existing manufacturers in the U.S., existing brands, and build a relationship with those people and form an agreement where I would become a seller of their products on the Amazon Marketplace, as well as other marketplaces. But Amazon makes up the lion’s share of our revenue.
And that was the big ding aha moment because it was kind of like being a marketing agency, and that I’m going to help them with all this marketing stuff. But instead of sending them an invoice, I’m going to buy their products and resell those products on the Amazon Marketplace. So I’m making my money in a different way. And it totally changes the nature of the relationship because you get paid every month no matter what, whether you’re doing any marketing services or not, you still get paid because you’re selling product.
Andrew: And so you interviewed him? Is that how you got to know him?
Trent: No, I developed a very scalable lead generation. So product, lead generation and outreach system. And I documented all of those processes right from the beginning. I hired virtual assistants right from the beginning. And much like . . . remember I was saying I moved all the paperclips over. And that’s how I got success. I simply sent more emails, more targeted emails to more manufacturers than most anybody else could because I had systematized it and outsourced it. So it wasn’t dependent upon my labor to do it.
So we were sending, you know, 200 to 300 emails a week from the get-go and qualities is in the quantity. When you send that many emails, you’re just going to get replies and people are . . . and then you’re going to have phone calls and then you’re going to look at price lists. And then you’re going to figure out if there’s margin there and they’re going to say yes, and you’re going to say yes, and you’re just landing accounts like crazy.
Andrew: But you didn’t know that until you met Dan, right?
Trent: Yeah, that’s it.
Andrew: And then how did you meet Dan and how did you know about, like, not selling, no name stuff with your brand, but instead selling well-known stuff on Amazon? How did you know that? How did you meet him and know him?
Trent: Yeah. I met a guy named Eddie Levine who . . . and I don’t even remember where I met Eddie. And I interviewed Eddie right before Dan and Eddie does something similar. He’s a little bit more cagey about it. But I know that he spends his entire life on the road in hotels, and I was like, “I don’t want any part of that at all.” And then when I interviewed Dan, he was telling me that . . . you know, he never leaves. He’s just does it all over email. And so I took what I learned from Dan and I basically put rocket boosters on it.
Andrew: Got it. And your rocket booster was . . . it seems like what you’ve told our producer was this business is about getting quality manufacturers to let you sell on Amazon. And the way you do that is, as you were mentioning, now reach out to as many of them as you can, and do a whole sales process on them. It’s like you’re selling them. And part of what you bring to them was your marketing experience. Got it. All right. And so what are some of the SOPs that you created right in the beginning, standard operating procedures?
Trent: Everything and anything to do with the process of sourcing products. So we had ways that we researched and analyzed products, and there was a couple of different SOPs that built around that. Then we had ways of finding the correct contact information for a brand. So we had SOPs for that. Then we had ways of making sure that we reached out to them and I didn’t want to have to send all those emails and like I’m not going to load them up in an autoresponder. So then we had systems for that. And it just kept cascading.
Andrew: And this is all in the Google Doc?
Trent: In the very, very beginning, it was in a Google Doc. I literally would do the thing and screenshot the thing that I was doing and I would move it all that into a Google Doc. And then I would type instructions and to a level of detail that I could then give that Google Doc to a virtual assistant. And much like baking a recipe like a cake, they could follow the recipe and produce the exact rules result that I wanted them to.
Andrew: Okay, I’ve got so many questions about that because I’ve done it and I’ve had tons of frustrations with it. Let me talk about my first sponsor, and then we’ll get into my frustrations with this documentation process. And I want to understand how you overcame them. But first, my first sponsor is a company called pilot.com. Who does your accounting? Do you do it yourself? You probably have an SOP for a virtual assistant.
Trent: No. We actually use the firm . . . they’re local, but they’ve marketed themselves as the Amazon accountants. I actually think that’s the URL. I think it’s the amazonaccountants.com. They’re a 40-year-old accounting firm scads of credibility just for like regular bookkeeping in the local market. And because they’ve chosen to brand themselves that way and specialize, they were not the first one we dealt with. The first one was these other two guys. And when it came to ecommerce, like when you’re processing 10,000 transactions a month, they didn’t have a clue. They had no idea how to account for that and they made all sorts of crazy ass mistakes. We found these guys and it was just like someone throwing us a life raft because they knew what to do. We didn’t have to teach them.
Andrew: You see, I would never know that they make sense because I’m on their website. First of all, it looks like their site is a little out of date. Like even the copyright is going back to 2017. They’re using Amazon’s name, which Amazon is not happy with, I got to believe, and somehow they’re . . . But I could see they’re totally focused on online resellers. All right. Makes sense. And it looks like they’re working with Xero.
Here’s the thing. I’m glad that you’ve got a big agency. I hate the idea of having one bookkeeper do my books, because if they don’t show up for whatever reason, or they get busy, or they’ve got like a legitimate thing where their kids are sick or something, my books don’t get done. And I don’t want anything to keep my books from getting done because once you miss a month or a week, you’re just asking for trouble. It just starts to extend and extend and then you’re out of date and you forget where your businesses.
So I went with Pilot. I kind of did it reluctantly because they wanted to sponsor. But I didn’t need an accounting company. I had my books taken care of. But, Andrea, my assistant said, “You know, Andrew, let’s just have them do it. Just get another set of eyes on our books.” I said, “You know, here, take some money, here’s my credit card, just give it to them. Let’s see what happens.” I completely ignored them. This was back in October, September of last year. January 1st she says, “You should see what they did because you’ve been paying for it.” I go into see it. It is amazing.
It is in QuickBooks. So it’s standard software that I can see on my phone, on my iPad, on my desktop. Everything is automatically categorized using software and humans go in to make sure that the software is doing the right thing. We started randomly selling things at the company that I wasn’t aware of. They tagged it in the income statement properly. They then took money from advertising that I was making because it looked like we would in December get a ton of money because that’s when Sachit was selling ads. And then in January making no money from ads.
They spread that revenue out throughout the year. So they switched me to accrual accounting. If people are paying for annual membership, they spread that out throughout the year. It’s like so now I understand month to month how well I’m doing. It is amazing. And I said, “All right, you know what? We’ve got to stick with them.” And then I still said, “We’re not ready to have them on as advertisers because I don’t know . . . am I the only one? Are they taken care of just to me.”
And it turns out they’re working with Airtable, with Atrium, with the Justin Kan’s company. They’re working with Sam Altman company. You know, Sam Altman left running Y Combinator. He’s now running OpenAI fulltime, apparently. So Sam Altman is working with them. Lattice, Sam Altman’s brother is working with them. Y Combinator sent them a bunch of people.
Anyway, they’re fantastic. I highly recommend people sign up with them. And still I’m about to give you guys and you, Trent, a link that will not get you to work with them. That this is not a link where you can go and hire them. If you go to pilot.com/mixergy, what you will do is be able to schedule a call with one of their people who will look over your books with them. So Trent, you’ve got an accounting firm, phenomenal. Have you or someone on your team go in and have them look over your books? Do you guys do it in QuickBooks or Xero?
Andrew: Yeah, it looks like they’re all about Xero. They can look through your numbers and then tell you, “Here’s how it would work if it was in QuickBooks,” or, “Here’s how we would adjust it.” And then Goodbye. They’re not expecting that they’re going to close a sale right away. If someone’s got a bookkeeper, they’re not switching like that because they heard Andrew Warner say something. They’re going to put that little bug in your head, “Here’s how well we do it. Here’s our suggestion.” And then when you’re ready to switch, you can switch over to them. And if you use this special URL, you’re going to get a discount. Here it is, go to pilot.com/mixergy. Pilot.com/mixergy.
Again, they will just look over your books and give you feedback on it. If you’re not running a company right now, you don’t have any books, they will actually help you think through how to do it. And they’re playing the long game. They worked with me for the long game. It was about half a year before we accepted them as advertisers because I wanted to see if people knew them and if they liked them and if I liked them. Anyway, so they’re going to play the long game with my listeners too, Trent. Good domain name, don’t you think? Pilot.com, man.
Trent: Absolutely. I even wrote it down. I’m going to check it out.
Andrew: Yeah, good. I saw that. That’s great. Here’s my challenge with SOPs. It’s a pain when you’re working. And I heard that what you had was you have a second screen or half of your screen. When you’re doing something, the other half of the screen is where you’re documenting what you’re doing. It’s a pain. It’s a drag. It takes forever. I just want to get things done. And then it forces you to also go through switching from doing to thinking about like what you just did and explaining it and then to doing. It’s back and forth. So that’s problem number one. How did you when you were documenting your work get over it?
Trent: Well, this wasn’t my first rodeo. My first company I read Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth,” and so I was drinking the Kool Aid a long time ago. And I was able to . . . I think when you had me on your show before we talked about the sale, and I was able to sell it for a higher price than I would have otherwise been able to. So I’m drinking the Kool Aid. I understand the value of SOPs both from an exit value perspective but also just from, “Man, it simplifies my life.” Like I literally should wear a T-shirt that say, “SOPs will set you free.”
Andrew: And that’s because you’re able to sell your company because it wasn’t about you and your special like gift. It’s you had a set of processes. And if somebody wanted to follow your processes, they could follow it just like a cook could follow somebody else’s recipe. That’s the thing.
Trent: Correct. So, yes, to answer your question, making them is kind of a pain because it takes a long time to make a good one because it has to have a high level of detail and has to be structured in a certain way. However, the payback is, when I’ve made a good SOP for the thing, I don’t ever have to do the thing ever again. I don’t want to do the thing. I don’t want to be working in my business. I want to be working on my business.
Andrew: And genuinely, you could then give it to somebody else as soon as you’ve documented it?
Trent: Yeah, I did.
Andrew: What’s an example of something you were able to give someone else?
Trent: The whole product sourcing process. I mean, I aside from doing the last step of it, which was having the phone call with the brand, which I wasn’t willing to delegate that to . . . well, I did eventually. But in the beginning, I didn’t. And for the first six months, that was me. Everything that happened before that was done by my team, mostly virtual assistants with a little bit of management by one of my U.S. employees.
Andrew: So can you give me a process that that you were able to do once, document, and then hand over to someone?
Trent: Sure. So part of our research process is extracting existing Amazon seller storefronts, dumping that data down into a spreadsheet, then doing some mathematical analysis on it to identify the products that we would like to attempt to stock. And then finding the contact information for all those companies, putting that into this spreadsheet, then importing it into HubSpot and sending out the right email. All of that, systematized and delegated.
Andrew: You did it yourself. But, Trent, the first time you were doing it, you’re figuring things out. By the way, I’m drinking the Kool Aid on documentation too. I’m totally with you. I’m not coming from a place of like, “How? This does not make sense. I’m going to challenge you and prove that you’re wrong.” I’m coming from a place of I know this makes sense. But there’s like an inner voice that just keeps telling me, “Here’s all the places where we failed.” I want to get better at that. And so I’m bringing up all my challenges so that we can combat them.
And so the first time that I do something, the first time that my team does something, they’re kind of figuring it out. In the figure it out mode, you can’t even talk it through out loud because you’re not sure what you’re doing. It’s only in the second part of the process where you get some space from the first time that you realize, “Oh, that is what I did. I did like a million different things. Here’s the thing that worked.” And then you were ready to document, don’t you think?
Trent: Yes. And the way that we handled that was, you know, occasionally maybe I’d do it twice, Andrew, but I sure as heck wouldn’t do it three times. But what would happen in the first generation of any SOP is the person that you’re assigning it to will have questions. Things that, “Oh, you didn’t go deep enough in the detail on this,” or something was ambiguous. So we would be continually improving just much like you improve a piece of software or any other project that you’re working on, we would be continually improving the SOPs based upon the feedback of the employees or virtual assistants that we were assigning them to. And in a really short period of time, you get them pretty tight. Then the issue becomes you develop more of them. See now in our package we sell, there’s 77 different SOPs. That’s taken years to create, refine, test, optimize, improve whatever words you would like to put in there, it’s a lot of work.
Andrew: By the way, you know, what I think is a good service that you guys should be offering, I feel like Flowster is super inexpensive and I don’t see how you can get rich off of such low prices. But who knows, maybe people are going to buy a bunch of seats or maybe it’s going to be the marketplace, I wonder. But here’s what I would love to see as an addition. Let somebody just record what they’re doing and talk it through out loud, complete with mistakes and everything and have a virtual assistant on your team document that whole process.
So you can imagine I might use one of these cloud recording apps and just talk through. I’m clicking here. I’m clicking there. Forget that I’m talking. It doesn’t matter. Then I upload it to whatever system you have. And you take screenshots out and you put it into a task list and the first time I get it back, I’m going to go, “This is bad because you missed this one step. So I forgot to talk it through but now I’ve got something I could edit.” I feel like that would be a really useful feature for people.
Trent: Yeah, actually, I like that idea. It’s like an SOP concierge service that my buddy Nathan here in Boise with his app ConvertKit. So there’s a huge pain of change of getting someone to switch from one email app to another and they had managed the entire cut over and that’s not scalable, and it’s sure not profitable in the beginning. But I’ll tell you, he’s killing it now. So that’s a great idea. Thank you for that.
Andrew: Yeah. Good. I’m glad that that makes sense. I’ve wanted that for so long. I’ve even tried to pass it on to someone on my team and say, “Look, I’m taking a screenshot. Can you document it?” it just didn’t work. All right, so here’s the other problem. It didn’t work because I think unless you’re doing it consistently, if you’re being told, “Take Andrew’s screenshot, turn it into a checklist,” you’re not fully bought into checklist, you don’t exactly know what Andrew did. And Andrew just did it and wants to move on. And so and Andrew is not checking in enough. It’s a problem. All right, that would be helpful. And then the other thing that I find is people don’t use them again. They forget. Even I might forget.
So I do webinars. I almost always will go through on use a checklist. This past week, I forgot. And I see that there are a bunch of people who are frustrated. There’s this whole conversation going on, “What do we find this? How do we make sure that Andrew doesn’t make that mistake again? Oh, this last webinar was a little different than the usual ones. Let’s create a new one for his unusual webinars and add this set of tasks to it so that we know that we’re going to get the video at the end of it.” What I’m wondering is what do you do to ensure that people actually take action, that they use these things?
Trent: First off, I should share with you my webinar SOP because I also do a webinar live once a month. And I’ll tell you, I guarantee you I would forget all sorts of important stuff without my SOP. So to answer your question, how do you get people to use them? It’s woven in into our culture. It’s part of our DNA. I mean, there’s a going joke in our office that you’re not allowed to fart unless you have an SOP. It’s just what everybody does. It would be really odd for someone to be doing something that we didn’t have an SOP for.
Andrew: All right. And then but do you have any way to make sure that they’re actually using it? Because in the rush of getting the job done, we forget. We don’t think of it. We remember just instinctively how to do stuff. And so we don’t go in and look for the documentation. We just say, “I know how to do it already. I’ll do it.”
Trent: Yeah. Flowster is so much of a part of our daily operate. Like it’s literally like email. Like we as a team just can’t function without it because there’s so many different processes. There’s so many different procedures. And honestly, it makes it easier because now as the person doing the work, I don’t have to think, “Oh, what am I forgetting?” And, you know, like, I just follow the process. And the software, you know, if I wanted to spy on my staff and check up and see what they’re doing, the software makes it really easy for me to do that. I can see what workflows are overdue or not due or due next week, who it’s assigned to. All those controls are there.
But I guess the best answer is, I’m sounding a bit like a broken record, it’s really got to be a part of the culture. I think like our VAs really like them because they know what’s expected of them. They know exactly how to do it. It makes onboarding a new VA easier. If you do it right, it just works. But I get what you’re saying.
Trent: I wonder if it’s also that if you have smart people do the same thing over and over, they’re not going to go back to documentation. They’re just going to do it by rote, versus smart like the people who create the documentation. I feel like they’re less likely to keep going back and redoing it because they know it. I wonder if passing it to somebody else makes more sense because someone who’s just there to follow the process.
You know, I don’t love the terms but my friend has a term of brains versus hands. And I wonder if at some point, if the person who’s the brains who creates a checklist does it over and over, they’re going to forget about the checklist because they never really needed it or they feel like they already own it. I wonder if it has to be a brains versus hands. With a person who creates, has to pass it to someone who doesn’t want to have to think about how to create the process and just wants a clear process. And maybe that’s part of your magic too that it is largely VAs who are doing this stuff.
Trent: Yes and no, because even myself, I have a bunch of them all to do with my podcast and publishing posts and publishing episodes and doing YouTube videos. I mean, I use my own SOPs over and over and over again because I don’t want to forget stuff. My U.S. employees use them constantly. And yes, our VAs do. Now does that mean that one of my U.S. employees might forget to use the SOP to publish the podcast episode for this week? Yeah, but I’d know it because my process is when a guest signs up, a workflow is created. And that workflow goes from initial pre-interview all the way to the episode being published and shared on social and broadcast out. Like it would be impossible to not use the SOP because I would know. And there’s just stuff that would get forgotten.
Andrew: We should have you closer to the mic because when you step back, I heard a little bit less of you. You know the other thing, I’m going to give you another wishlist item. The other wishlist item is I think most people, I’m the only one who doesn’t use Chrome, but most people do. I wonder if a Chrome plugin that will tell you when you’re on a site, there’s an SOP for this and makes it available and the nice side like of the screen way would help. So when someone is in the email marketing software, there’ll be a little popup that says, “We have an SOP on this. Which of these SOPs do you need?” And now it’s there in their fingertips, and they can’t help but go grab it. So if they’re in, I don’t know, the editing software, if they’re in the Google Drive folder where we’re pulling . . . you know what I mean? That type of thing puts it right there in front of them. All right. I’m [inaudible 00:35:15]. Thank you.
Trent: Great idea. I’ll be talking to my CTO about that afterwards.
Andrew: And so I’ll tell you what we do. We now have switched from Google Docs, which I found people weren’t going into tasks, which I find people use more often. We do it in Basecamp because that’s our project management software. It’s kind of a quiet software, which means not a lot of chatter, just stay focused. If I have a webinar, I just copy a checklist over and I start to check off all my items. If someone else is working with a partner, if someone else is . . . I’m trying to think of . . . oh, sending out email using our email management software and we need to tag links, they just copy a checklist, and then they . . . and we’ve got this repository of checklists, they copy it and they start checking items off and I find the checklist helps.
One of the things that since checklists are in our culture, one of the things that we do is we would spend a month making sure that everything that we do repeatedly is documented and that the documents are up to date, and that the ones we don’t need are archived, and so on. So this is the month of May, close to the end of it, where everyone has to go through all of their checklists, and make sure that they’re up to date and archive the ones that aren’t and put things in the checklist if they need to. I find that helps because it reminds people for a whole month, this is what we do. Anything else that you find helps for making checklists or standard operating procedures, SOPs part of the culture and getting people to do them even when there’s no software to manage it?
Trent: I don’t know if I have a great answer for that, other than to maybe share two stories, if I may. At the last conference I spoke at, a woman by the name of Krystal and her business partner, and I don’t remember her business partner’s name, they came up to me. And they said, “Hey, Trent, we bought your Amazon SOPs six months ago, and we’ve already grown. And we took this training . . . ” like I was at the conference of the guy who I had on my show, he sells a training course. I don’t. So all these people are there to learn. They’ve all bought his training course. They’ve spent 2500 bucks. They now know what to do. But they don’t have a systematic way of delegating it. So she’d grown her business from 0 to 100 grand a month within six months. I got a text earlier today from a fellow named Stefan. He’s a retired NHL hockey player, Stéphane Yelle. Used to play on Denver.
And he’s told me he’s now between 200,000 and 250,000 a month. And when he bought my stuff, he was at zero and he’d never sold on Amazon and so forth. So how are those stories answering your question? My hope is that when you see people who’ve never done a thing before, then they go and get extraordinary results, it kind of makes them want to keep taking a very systematic approach to their business because it’s really, really working.
And I know in my case, I don’t like to be bogged down in details of the day-to-day operations. I’d like to be up higher. So if I can’t delegate, that means I’m going to get sucked into all this stuff. So I don’t have to remember. And then I go back to the culture thing. And again, I apologize. I sound like a broken record. I don’t have a better answer. But it’s just so woven into our organization that it would be really weird for people to not use them.
Andrew: All right, fair enough. I want to know what . . . All right, we’ll come back. I’ve got so many questions. I’m trying to figure out like what’s the next question? Because I think the fact that you started selling SOPs, that you started your software company with info-products, essentially, was really interesting. And I want to know how you got your first sales. Let me talk about my second sponsor. It’s a company called Toptal. Do you know Toptal for hiring developers?
Trent: I’ve heard of them. Yep.
Andrew: You have? Where did you find your developers?
Trent: I have a CTO who’s been through the wringer. He’s built and sold a software company already. He’s a very frugal individual. And so all of ours have been hired from India and Bangladesh, I think. And he’s been in charge of that whole process. So how he finds them, I have no idea because I just don’t get involved.
Andrew: So let’s imagine this, here’s where I think that a company like Toptal would help a company like yours. Your site is really good but the mobile app or the mobile version is a little bit tougher to operate. And I understand why because most of your people are on desktop. They’re not looking for SOPs on their phones.
Andrew: But imagine if at some point, you said, “You know, I do actually need a mobile app.” Now what do you do to get a mobile app? Do you go and find people from India who are going to be building a mobile app? Maybe. Or maybe what you say is, “I want the foundation to be really good. And so I want people who built multiple mobile apps, and specifically, apps that are very similar to mine.” And to do that, what you could do is go to Toptal and you say, “Here’s what I’m looking for. I essentially want something like . . . ” And maybe give them a list of competitors that are like what you’re looking for. You tell them how you operate, everything SOP. You tell them what software you use to communicate. And they’ll find somebody who’s done the software like you and who’s into like documenting their stuff especially well so that they culturally fit with you.
And who can communicate using whatever software quirky thing that you do. Like, for me, it’s Basecamp. I don’t want someone who’s a high chatter person. I want someone who’s more [safe 00:40:23], right? Every company has their quirks. So they’ll find all that. They’ll get you the one or two or three people that you need. You can work with them with your CTO managing the whole process. And then once they’re done, you’ve got the foundation, you can say, “Great, thank you. It’s been a good month with you. I’m glad that we worked well together. I’m glad that you’re here but it’s time for you to go. Totally fine. And my team is going to take it from there.” And since they’ve documented well and since they’ve actually organized everything right, you now have your mobile app.
And maybe it’s two different mobile apps, one for Android and one for iOS. That’s where Toptal comes in for companies like yours. And I remember it was David Hauser, the founder of Grasshopper, who’s now moved on after he sold his company for $170 million. He start investing in companies. He was using Toptal. And I said, “Why are you using Toptal? For what?” And he said, “It’s specifically for what you’re talking about. Small projects, where we can test where one person or a few people can come in, and they can move on if you need them to.”
All right. If you or anyone else, Trent, are looking to hire the best of the best developers and this is where they are, they like Google level developers. At a reasonable price, you go to toptal.com/mixergy. When you do, again, they’re not going to sell you. What they’re going to do is get you on a call with a matcher.
Hiten Shah, the founder of formerly Kissmetrics and now FYI, he said the thing that he loved best about it, the reason that he didn’t go into his network, even though he’s got a big network of developers, especially since he advises so many startups is he said, I like the matchers at Toptal. And I agree. You talk to a mantra. If they could find people for you, they’ll connect you often within days and you can get started right away. If not, well, you’ll be like many other people email me and say, “You know what, it didn’t work, Andrew.”
And I think that’s fine. I want them to tell you when it doesn’t work. All right, Trent, I saw you wrote this down so I’m not going to sell past that. I will tell everyone its toptal.com/mixergy. Top as in top of your head. Tal as in talent. Toptal.com/mixergy. When you go there, you’ll get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit. You know what? You get a whole bunch of stuff they’re not offering anyone else. And they’re doing it because they’re Mixergy fans.
All right. You get up on stage. And you say, “I’ve got these things,” and you sell them for how much, the documentation goes for?
Trent: No, I didn’t get on stage and say I’ve got things to sell.
Andrew: Oh, sorry, you said, “I have nothing to sell.” When you did finally sell, how much did you sell it for? What did you sell and to whom?
Trent: So we sold it for 2,500 bucks.
Andrew: For just documentation?
Andrew: Because you were doing how much in Amazon sales at that point?
Andrew: And you were reselling what type of products?
Trent: Random stuff. Like we were selling biodegradable garbage bags. We were selling dog pain, hip joint stuff. We were selling oversized gummy worms. We were selling all sorts of supplements. I mean, just literally just water filters, just the crazy random stuff.
Andrew: And you had a process figuring out what crazy random stuff would work and then what’s process . . .
Andrew: You know, that’s the first time that I saw you like really give like a confidence smile on here. The thing about you that I’ve noticed is it’s not that you ever unconfident, you don’t freaking have swagger yet. I feel like at some point like you’ve done it well enough that you should have a little bit of swagger. I expected after I heard all this that once we started recording the interview, you would be like, “Yeah, dude, I got to figured it out, man. It’s all documented and the business is doing well and I’ve got three levels of business. So if Amazon screws me over, things are going great. If somehow, I don’t . . . ” You don’t have that. What happened?
Trent: I’m Canadian. We’re just naturally composed.
Andrew: Is that what it is?
Andrew: Good Lord.
Trent: I don’t like blah blahing about myself that much. I mean, I’m not afraid to say that I’ve been successful. I make a lot of money and I feel good about all that kind of stuff. But it’s not the first thing you need to know about me.
Andrew: And you and you wife have been together for how long?
Trent: What’s that?
Andrew: You and your wife have been together for how long?
Trent: Well, this would be a sixth-year wedding anniversary this summer.
Andrew: And the two of you well enough together that she can be in the same building as you all day. You can get stuff started. She can go and manage it. It seems like that’s where you got work, right?
Trent: Well, some swagger for you. I use my Amazon business to buy an 18,000 square foot warehouse and I put her at the other end of the house [inaudible 00:44:11].
Andrew: Oh, you got to tell the other thing. So apparently, you guys have a storefront. Talk about what the problem was it led you to do that?
Trent: So when you’re approaching brands, there are certain brands that they’ll have a criteria that if you don’t have a retail storefront, they just end the conversation with you. And so we decided that we would create a retail store in the foyer of our office that is the front of our warehouse because it’s legit. In the building that I own there are some retail. And so we put that there as a means to be able to put the tick in the tick box on the account application.
Andrew: Wow, is there a picture of that somewhere that I can see online?
Trent: No, and the reason I don’t share the picture anywhere is because then people . . . when you have an audience like me, they all want to know what brands do I carry because they want to come and try and poach my brands. So I don’t put any pictures of any product anywhere.
Andrew: Because they’ll take a look at your picture and see what you’re selling at the store. And then really?
Trent: And then they’ll contact those brands and try and get on the product as well. And many times, we will have an exclusive relationship with a brand but not always. And so in the case where not always is there, well, I don’t need another seller sharing the buy box with me because that means less revenue for me. Why would I do that?
Andrew: Wow. And you actually have like someone with a cash register and everything selling the stuff?
Trent: Nobody ever walks in, but yeah, we’re equipped for it.
Andrew: If someone walks in, who goes to get the door?
Trent: My wife.
Andrew: It’s like a bell that goes off . . .
Trent: There’s a bell when walk in and it goes ding like when you enter the retail store. And somebody, because there’s usually two, three, four people down there, somebody would come up and say, “Hey, can I help you?” But we don’t advertise the store. I don’t want anyone to walk in the store. The store is purely there to put the tick in the tick box. We’ve had sales reps from brands come by and look at the store and they’re like, “Yeah, it’ll do.”
Andrew: Wow. And still no Yelp rating or anything on that store?
Andrew: When you were selling it, how much was there for $2,500? Was it a set of Google Docs that were like 10 pages? Did it matter? What was it?
Trent: No, the product was very much like what it is today. I think the first time we sold it, there was 55 SOPs. In hindsight because we didn’t . . . the first version, we’re on version four now because we improve them pretty regularly. The first version probably wasn’t detailed enough because I’d never sold SOPs before to people. And I just assumed that they would look at the folder structure. And if they needed to source products, they would go into the product sourcing folder, and then they would look at the one that was labeled step one, and they would start with that one. And much to my surprise, because I guess nobody had ever bought any pre-made SOPs before, people were buying them and they were sitting down and they were trying to read them all like a book or a training book.
Andrew: Instead of just doing . . . that makes sense. I would do that with a recipe that I got for dinner. I just want to read it in order to I understand. Yeah.
Trent: Yeah, you might read it, right, before you make it. But when you have 55 or now 77 SOPs, reading them all from end to end is like the dumbest thing ever because why would you do that? You just don’t. You just wouldn’t. It just doesn’t make any sense. So the improvements that we made on like each and every SOP would be like this is what this is for. This is who you should delegate it to. This is when you should use it. This is kind of how it relates to the other SOPs. We made it more intuitive names. We made sure that we had really tight folder structures because I now understand that for someone new coming in, having 77 SOPs could be intimidating despite the fact that I tell them, “You should really only focus on these ones and ignore all the other ones until you need them.”
Andrew: Yeah. So I got one of these. I didn’t realize what it was until now because I just went with . . . now you have a marketplace where I can just go get SOPs from people. And there was a free one that I thought would give me a good sense of how this works. It’s called “How to Get Major Press for Your Startup, Small Business, or Website.” And I can see that the first checklist item is an intro. And it says, “The content from this SOP was taken from this article on Social Triggers.” It’s a good read. And it’s a good idea to read it beforehand. Derek Halpern is and you describe who he is. And now I get to hit a check that I completed that task. And now I understand what’s coming up. And then you go step by step telling me how to do this, like how do I understand who my competitors are? What my topics are? By the way, I think it’s brilliant that you just found blog posts and you turn them into these checklists.
Trent: But we don’t sell those ones. Those ones are free. And the reason that we did that is as you may have experienced when you first log into the software platform, you can build an SOP but it’s kind of like an empty book. All the tools are there, but there’s nothing there. This is continuing to be a strategy of ours and the marketplace dovetails into this. We wanted to make it so that people could just go and download an SOP and start to immediately benefit from the content that was provided in that SOP, as well as the software platform as a way of . . . because we run a freemium model like every other software company under the sun.
And once they get to five, then they start to have to pay. But in the beginning, they’re not paying anything. And so we attempt to create a free SOP each and every week. And then we built the marketplace because I realized after selling millions of dollars’ worth of SOPs myself, I thought, “Wait a minute, maybe there are other experts out there who know stuff that I don’t know, who have an audience but they’ve never thought of selling an SOP. And they also don’t have a platform to do it on.” Because, again, we’re not selling a PDF here that you could just, you know, sell via an email or whatever other way. Like you need an infrastructure to be able to have that SOP usable. And that’s what the marketplace allows you to do.
Andrew: Yeah. All right. And you still don’t have . . . or do you have people selling in the marketplace?
Trent: We haven’t even formally launched the darn marketplace. I mean, it was a soft launch to my list and somebody immediately came along. There is a couple there that I think like 25 bucks or 50 bucks or something like that. And now, my job is to get the word out, find other influencers, explain to them why they would want to do this. And, you know, I get it. There’s a lot of snowball to push yet.
Andrew: Yeah, I can imagine. I kind of feel like you could even create some free ones for people. I mean, do it on their behalf.
Trent: We’re thinking of doing that.
Andrew: Yeah. And then let them make some money from this. I think that . . . you know what? I remember when Leadpages started doing their marketplace, they were reached out to me and said, “Can we turn your best landing page?” And they picked one specifically into one of these lead pages for . . . “We’ll do it for free. And then can we also sell it?” And I said, “Okay, go ahead, do it.” I like Clay Collins a lot. I said, “Go ahead, do what you want.” And then that became part of the reason why people would sign up and their big interest was not in making money off of my thing. They wanted to get people to sign up for their platform, kind of like you guys. I can see that happening here.
Trent: That same strategy.
Andrew: I can totally see that happening here.
Trent: The other thing that I’m doing gives you . . . I’m interrupting you because you mentioned swagger. So I’m going to swag a little bit here is I started . . . I wanted to test. So I sell this stuff for 2,500 bucks. And I’ve largely done that by using affiliates and stuff that’s not easy for other people to replicate. And I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could sell like a much lower price point to people on my list with no affiliate support?” And so I created a webinar which was much the same presentation I gave from stage also many years ago. And then I made a $400 offer at the end. And holy cow, dude, 30 grand a month I make off of one webinar.
Andrew: How? What are you selling $400 for what?
Trent: I took of my $2,500 product, I took a little itty bitty slice of it and I priced it at $397. And you can buy it off my website any day of the week for 600 bucks. And so I put it on the webinar for 397. I put some scarcity in it. And then in the post-sale email sequence over the next two weeks, they have the opportunity to upgrade to the $2500 plan and we’ll give them the whole 397 back if we do that. It works like crazy well. And so more recently, what I did was I evergreened that webinar using EverWebinar, and then I hired a YouTube agency and we shot some video ads. And we’re now driving paid traffic into it. And we’re three weeks in. We’ve done almost no optimization or split testing and it’s already profitable.
Andrew: Wow. And I’m looking on your site. It’s on brightideas.co somewhere?
Trent: The webinar?
Andrew: No. The product that you said you sell for more on the site that you do it on the webinar.
Trent: Oh. If you go to the resources page.
Andrew: Okay, let me go to the resources page right now.
Trent: Both of them are there. The $597 product and the $2,500 product, they’re both there.
Andrew: Wow. And then is your delivery method a course? What’s offered to use to publish your stuff?
Trent: We’re selling on Flowster? Everything . . .
Andrew: You sell it directly on Flowster.
Trent: Yeah, everything that people buy for Bright Ideas, drives users to Flowster. You have to become a user to get the thing.
Andrew: And that’s how you end up with a monthly revenue because in addition to people paying for the program, they’re also starting to pay for Flowster. Got it.
Andrew: Oh, this is such a freaking brilliant model. This makes a lot of sense. I actually think that a lot of courses should not be on course platforms. I think what they should be is on checklist platform because people aren’t trying to learn, they’re trying to do.
Andrew: And through the process of checking off items, they learn the thing that they need to do. That I feel like is a better model.
Trent: And that’s the exact message that I’m trying to convey to course owners. So if there are course owners that are listening, my message to you is this, everyone who bought my SOPs, I had already spent 2,500 bucks on a course that teaches the foundation of what my SOPs do. And they still bought my SOPs because they realize that the course teaches this foundational level of knowledge but it does not equip you with a set of checklists that you need to start doing and delegating today.
Andrew: Right. And the fact that there’s delegation . . . I think I saw delegation in here. Let me go on this.
Trent: Huge, huge part of it.
Andrew: This is now becoming kind of annoying. Yeah, it’s a very top I see it. Again, I didn’t see it on . . . I’m a mobile only person, except when I do interviews. And so I missed a lot of this. I’ve got to remember to come back in and see people sites here. I also have to remember from time to time to switch to Chrome just to check what I’m missing. But I can see so I can delegate this at this point to Andrew, but if there are other people on my team, I could delegate it to them.
Trent: You can give, you could have 1 SOP that was say 17 steps long. You could delegate it to two or three different people, give them all different due dates. They’ll get email notifications. You’ll get email notifications. There’s all this accountability built into the software, so things don’t fall through the cracks.
Andrew: Okay. So now, I’ve got this one template that I bought as . . . I got it for free as a sample. I could hit copy template, and then does that count against my five?
Andrew: It does?
Trent: Yes. So the terminology is we call them templates and workflows. So a template is an SOP. It’s the recipe for success. A workflow is simply an instance of that template.
Trent: And the free plan, you can have up to five templates. And I forget if you’re limited on workflows, but I know you’re limited on five templates. And then after that, you’d have to go up to the $15 a month plan. And then I think you’re allowed to have 30, or 40, or something.
Andrew: Oh, this makes so much sense. The only thing I don’t love is SOP. Here’s my problem with SOP. I feel like it’s such a Dilbert-y term. And we haven’t found a better term, right?
Trent: It’s well known. And you know what? I’ve had a lot . . . you know, when I give talks, I was just down at Seller Summit in Miami, and I gave a talk on this. And I got all sorts of crazy good feedback. People were like, “Oh, my God, I know I need SOPs . . . ” So I don’t really want to come in and try and invent a new word.
Andrew: I know. It has kind of started to take over. It used to be documentation. But even that didn’t feel right. It is becoming a thing. Yeah, I see actually, I see your pricing page right now. Five active templates and five active workflows is in the free. That means if I use a template more than five times, I’m going to be paying you a monthly fee of $15 a month.
Trent: Only if you have five concurrent workflows. If you have a template and you do a workflow and you archive it and you do a workflow and you archive it . . .
Andrew: Oh, that’s still free?
Trent: That’s still free.
Andrew: Oh, I’m surprised you do that. And even unlimited users on a free plan, I’m surprised you do that too.
Trent: Unlimited guest user. So a guest user is typically a VA. They don’t have the ability to import an SOP, create an SOP, edit an SOP.
Andrew: They just do.
Trent: You just assign a workflow to them and they do it. So those . . .
Andrew: They’re underpricing it too. I love this freaking model. This is not what I signed up for. I do not like when I do interviews and I’m like super happy about what the guest is doing. That’s just a pain in butt to listen to. People feel like it’s just a fawning interview. I hate myself afterwards for doing it, for getting carried away. But I really like what you’ve built here. I feel like there are a handful of companies that have gone on after this SOP market. And the vast majority of them, even if they’re doing well, they haven’t really knocked it out of the park because they haven’t figured out the thing, the thing that’s going to make it work. The thing that’s going to make it stand out from, say, Asana, for example.
Not to say that Asana is the ideal place for it. But, you know, it’s like cheap and it’s free and it’s known, right? And so they haven’t figured out the way to do that. I feel like you found the thing. Not fully yet. Not fully yet. I think there’s still going to be more to this. Like you’d have accountability yet like where I can see if Bob has done all 10 of his things and . . .
Trent: Oh, yeah, you can go into . . . if you’re logged into the app, and there’s a link on the nav bar called Workflow.
Andrew: Okay, yeah. I’m in it right now.
Trent: There’s all those search boxes and you can type in assigned to or created by.
Andrew: And I get a sense of how it’s done. And how Bob . . .
Trent: If you want to see Bob, you just type in Bob. And every workflow that’s been assigned to Bob will show up. And you can look at how far are they along in the progress. And if you know that they’re all like . . . if the green arrow is on the left-hand side, you know, Bob is kind of sloughing and he’s not doing his job. But if the green arrow is way towards the right-hand side, then you know he’s completed almost all of them.
Andrew: Good thing about this is people believe this are like religious about it. That they’re so into it. That their companies operate on this. It makes a ton of sense. What’s your monthly recurring on this?
Trent: I would have . . . give it a second here and I’ll look it up.
Andrew: Wow, wee.
Trent: If I can find it that quickly.
Andrew: I also like the name Flowster. It’s a good name. I wish you had Flowster.com. But Flowster is still a really good name.
Trent: So our monthly, it’s not huge. It’s like five grand a month at this point in time.
Trent: The challenge is should it be higher? Yes. The challenge is that I am involved in three different businesses. And so I spread myself too thin and that has consequences to it. If I was just focused on this, I’d like to think it would be bigger. But then, the way that I onboard most of my customers is because they buy my SOP product and they buy my SOP product because I have a successful Amazon business. So if I take the foundation out, then I can’t sell the SOPs. Then I have to figure out a different way to market it. Now, like every other SaaS company on the planet, I’m doing content marketing, I’m doing pay traffic, I’m doing webinars. And I think I . . .
Andrew: And then you think what?
Trent: I think this way it’s going to take a little longer in the beginning, but I’m acquiring customers extremely profitably. And I like that.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, you know what? So you’ve had Ahrefs as a sponsor. I have, I think, we might still have them for a little bit. I don’t know. But I’ve been using them more. And so I’m looking at your site on Ahrefs and it looks like sometime around, let me see, I guess, August 18th is when you started to do some content stuff. And then February of this year, it seems like when you really kicked off getting referrals and growing your site through content. Am I right?
Trent: So Ahrefs was our sponsor just fairly recently. And so part of their sponsorship program was we agreed to create some free SOPs for them on the process.
Andrew: Okay. No, I mean, I’m using them actually to get a sense of what you’re doing. And it looks like starting in February, you had this ramp up of content where, for example, it looks like mywifequitherjob.com did an episode with you in March and they published it. On Bright Ideas, October, you started listing it on your site, on your resources page as a tool.
Andrew: Something called [crisy.ad 01:01:15], started including you in there. And it all started kicking off. It feels like in October of last year when the site got up.
Trent: Well, that was coordinated with one of our affiliate launches. So it does get a lot of attention during that period of time.
Andrew: And something happened around February where you’re just going, going, going with more stuff, right? No? Maybe not.
Trent: Yeah, yeah. And I’ve been cranking out videos on my YouTube channel and cranking out podcasts and talking about it more in the podcasts and just trying to bring awareness. You know, we have a weekly newsletter to my house list and we talk about it in there every single week.
Andrew: Getting on other people’s podcast too like episode 52 of the awesomers.com podcast. You did this ad in January?
Andrew: Yeah, you know what? I’m kind of digging Ahrefs just for stuff like this to get a sense of like what somebody is up to right now? What are they doing? And you can tell if someone is in . . .
Trent: What part of Ahrefs are you looking at right now?
Andrew: Right? So that’s the thing. There’s so freaking much in there that I had a hard time using them for guest research. So here’s what I’m doing now lately. I just type in a domain and then I go into the backlinks to see who is sending you traffic most recently. And then I switch to from general backlinks to new to get a sense of are you doing anything especially big? I also look at people’s top pages to get a sense of what is especially big for you. So for example, for you, I see one of your top pages is “How to Build an Instagram Following, Free SOP.” That’s one of your top ones according to Ahrefs. So this kind of gives me a sense of what’s going on with people.
Trent: And we picked that SOP that was part of an SEO experiment. And we wanted to try and rank for that particular term and it worked moderately well as you can see from the Ahrefs tool.
Andrew: Yeah. I’m now starting to see how it’s actually useful for interviews, for getting a sense of people.
Trent: Yeah, it’s an awesome tool. I love it.
Andrew: All right. The website for anyone who wants to go check it out is . . . where is it? It’s flowster.app, A-P-P.
Andrew: I feel like that’s the top thing we should send people too. But you know what? If I went there, I wouldn’t even know that you were selling those Amazon SOPs, right?
Trent: It’s mentioned on the homepage.
Andrew: Let me say.
Trent: And because we do get inquiries and we make sales, so right under “Try Flowster absolutely free.” It’s says, “Done for standard operating procedures for Amazon sellers.”
Andrew: Got it. I see it.
Trent: And it’s right there.
Andrew: Product sourcing, supply relations, shipping, and product prep.
Trent: And, honestly, the homepage needs improvement. It’s one of those things of all my different priorities. And I do want to make it a little bit more seamless. But nonetheless, we get a fair number of inquiries because there’s that little green talk the email, submit thing there. And that’s where we get predominantly the increase. And then I have an email that I send back and it’s got the links for people to buy it. And typically they do.
Andrew: Yeah, I’ve got to admit, you’re the opposite of many people. Your website is worse than your app. Like the homepage, it’s like things that look like buttons are not buttons. I could see what you’re trying to do, but I could also see why I was a little confused at first. But your software is way better set up than I expected for software that’s this new. I would have expected a lot more issues. I haven’t come across a bug yet, except that it doesn’t work as well on phone, not nearly as it does on desktop. Cool.
Trent: Yeah. And I can’t remember the name of the terminology for it. But there’s some new technology, something or other, which is apparently better than responsive website design. And I remember reading an article and I passed it to our CTO. And we are slowly building that into the app, and it will make it work much, much better on mobile.
Andrew: Can I create a template using the free account?
Trent: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Andrew: Where’s that? Where’s the create a template thing?
Trent: It should be in the upper left.
Andrew: I’m going to go to the upper left. I’m going to go to templates. I see all the templates that I could make. You know what? Let me just edit this template instead of making another one. I just want to know, can I put . . . ?
Trent: So if you put your mouse on the left, the little nav bar pops up the green button that says, “New template.”
Andrew: Okay. You know what I was trying to see? Is could I add a video to this? If I wanted to show somebody what I was doing, could I just do a video? And it looks like I could because . . .
Trent: Yeah, you can.
Andrew: . . . you can give me access to the HTML so I could just pop into a YouTube video or Wistia or whatever it is.
Trent: If you just put the URL in.
Andrew: Or the URL into. But I could embed a video. Can I?
Trent: As soon as you put the URL and it embeds it for you.
Andrew: Oh, got it. You just unfurl it automatically. All right. Okay, I’m getting too deep. Now I’m doing like customer support questions for Trent. All right, it’s flowster.app for anyone who wants to check it out, number one. Number two, if you need your accounting done, right, you know what first thing you should do? Go to pilot.com/mixergy. Ask them to look over your books. If it’s a good fit for you, you can always switch over to them. They really will do your books great. But if you just want somebody to give you feedback on your current process or your expected process, they will help you out. And if you need to hire phenomenal developers, go to toptal.com/mixergy. Let me make it clear, toptal.com/mixergy, or pilot.com/mixergy. All right. Cool. This is . . . yeah, uh-huh?
Trent: Let me add one URL to that if I may.
Trent: If there’s anyone listening and they’ve been thinking about wanting to start an ecommerce business, or they’ve been thinking about wanting to start on Amazon, I have a start here on the brightideas.co blog, there’s a start here button. And I would encourage they come and click that. There’s a series of videos that talks about some really foundational stuff about selling on Amazon. The three different business models, why one is more risky than the other? Why . . . blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. There’s some good and free content there.
Andrew: I see. Yeah. Find 50 products in 30 minutes. Kind of like I do it. Just find Trent’s storefront. Just walk through Trent’s storefront. It might be easier to go find that than to find the products on your own. All right, cool. Thanks, Trent. Bye everyone.