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Early-Stage Founder 26: Jordan Muela on the Fastest Way to Build Authority

Jordan Muela on the fastest way to build authority

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For the next 3 weeks, I’ll be releasing an episode on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to gear up for MicroConf on April 9th. These episodes will be focused on self-funded, often solo-founders. Some are on the smaller side, while others have ARRs over 7-figures, but they all have valuable lessons to share for any founder.

Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Jordan Muela, the CEO and Co-Founder of LeadSimple, a bootstrapped SaaS startup that is building a better sales experience for property managers.

In my chat with Jordan, we cover everything from getting stuck in refactoring hell to the biggest contributor to LeadSimple’s growth, but the focus of this episode is on the conference Jordan and his team just put on.

Hosting a conference gives any startup immediate authority, but it’s a ton of work to pull it off, not to mention the financial risk involved of booking a venue before selling any tickets.

Luckily for us, Jordan covers everything you need to know to decide if hosting your own conference is right for your startup and lays out the steps to take to get started.

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Topics covered:

  • 00:18   Jordan begins telling us what Lead Simple is all about.

    • 00:33 Where the idea came from.
    • 00:57 The move from lead generation to software.
    • 01:17 Where Lead Simple is today.
    • 01:59 The biggest contributor to their growth.
    • 03:21 "Refactoring hell".
  • 04:17   Discussing whether Lead Simple launched their software too quickly.

    • 05:09 What Jordan would have done differently.
    • 06:45 New features coming out.
  • 07:10   The topic of conversation turns to the Property Management Growth Summit that Jordan and his team put on.

    • 07:58 The reasons for creating the conference.
    • 09:20 The focus of the conference.
    • 10:50 Size of the market Jordan is active in.
  • 11:39   Jordan tells us about his partner and how they came up with the idea for the Growth Summit.

    • 12:45 The first step in bringing the idea to life.
    • 13:28 How they found a coordinator to facilitate the conference.
    • 14:02 The fears Jordan had when deciding to bring the Summit to life.
    • 14:25 How they decided on location.
  • 14:59   The nuts and bolts of running a conference like the Growth Summit.

    • 16:29 The channels used to drive ticket sales.
    • 17:34 Details on ticket sales amounts.
  • 18:26   Where Jordan found the confidence to take the risk of creating and building a conference.

    • 20:48 What went wrong.
    • 21:46 The amount of work involved.
    • 22:48 Did the event meet expectations?
    • 23:46 The amount of time involved.
  • 24:39   How the success of the Growth Summit will affect the future growth of Lead Simple.
  • 27:10   The difference between a lead generation business and one that focuses on high-level consulting.
  • 28:36   Who should consider running a conference for their business or startup.

Rapid-fire Questions:

  • 32:15   What are you currently spending too much time doing?
  • 33:18   What do you not spend enough time doing?
  • 33:56   What are you hoping to tackle in the next quarter with LeadSimple?
  • 34:23   What potential obstacles do you see in the way?

Resources mentioned:

Where to learn more:

To follow what Jordan is up to, check out LeadSimple.com and the PM Growth Summit

Transcript:

Andy: Jordan, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Jordan: My pleasure, good to be here.

Andy: Let's just start off with the basics.  What is LeadSimple, and how did it come about?

Jordan: So, LeadSimple is a sales CRM, that is built specifically for property management companies.  Basically, it is a vertically focused SaaS app.

Andy: Where did this idea come from?  Were you already in the space?

Jordan: So, I got mentored by a guy who ran a venture backed HOA company.  Home Owner's Association.  And so I just happened to be within the realm of property management, and my first business was something that I started that was doing lead generation in the same space.  And eventually, I pivoted off of the lead gen. model on to software.  That's how it came to be.

Andy: When was that?  When did you make that pivot?

Jordan: Oh, let's see.  So I made that pivot directly at the same time that the Penguin Panda updates first happened. 

Andy: From Google?

Jordan: So I want to say around 2011.  We got slapped hard on the lead gen. business and it was like, "Woop, last time I'm gonna build a business built off Google."  So I pivoted to software. 

Andy: What have you done to slog along?  What has worked to get to this point?  I know you said it's been a slow process, but what does that actually look like in practice?

Jordan: I'd say that the biggest thing for us early on was learning what exactly we need to build.  Really what that meant, was understanding who our customers are on a deep level, and truly empathizing with them.  

When we first built out the product, we had one developer that my co-founder was managing, so this developer had a really high output, but part of what that meant was, with an unclear vision we were building a lot without knowing exactly where we were going, so we did kind of, by sheer muscle, end up with a product that accomplished what we wanted, but it was a bit of a Frankenstein.

Andy: There's some technical debt with it.

Jordan: Exactly, a lot of technical debt.  So what we got was something I could take to market, and I could sell, and that I did sell, made good progress, but at the same time, over time things on the product front kind of slowed as if it was like walking through quicksand.  

So we got to this place where, while sales was ramping up, product was ramping down in terms of output.  So that's really what I would call "refactoring hell."

We had to work through refactoring hell, which took about six to nine months.  That was a really, really brutal and trying place to be, because again, I'm selling, I'm a believer, I'm pushing product, but for me personally as a founder, without having meaningful, technical leverage, which means the product improving over time.  I might as well be selling Amway.  Any recurring revenue business model would work.  The tech leverage is what is exciting.  We've come around now, come full circle, to work through that refactoring hell, but it definitely was not pleasant.

Andy: And this is something that a lot of founders struggle with, because the Silicon Valley startup mindset is all about:  Ship fast, don't worry about it, it's not going to be pretty, if you wait until it is pretty, you've waited too long.  

So looking back on it, do you think you released to early, or did you have to get it out the door that quickly?

Jordan: No, I'm definitely glad we got it out the door really quickly.  So I mentioned earlier that it's a sales focused CRM, but what we released was a one-trick pony.  It was an application, where when you got a new sales lead, we would call you, you would pick up the phone, hear the information about that lead's details, including any comments they left when they filled out the form, and then be able to press "1" while you're still on the phone and initiate a live outbound phone call to the lead.

That was it.  That was the entirety of the app, but we followed the lean mindset, running lean, from Ash, if you're familiar with that.  That just totally ingrained into our minds:  You must get paid, or you don't have a business.  So we got paid some money right out of the gate, and that was the justification we needed to build the business.   I wouldn't do it any other way.  

What I would do differently, is be a lot more diligent in choosing to get to know our business owners on a human-to-human, person-to-person, founder-to-founder level, as opposed to intellectualizing the exercise in terms of thinking of them in terms of a persona or something like that.  Because when we finally graduated to really getting to know them on a deeper level, that's where the insights that we needed, that should've [inaudible 00:05:35] from day one happened.

Andy: The customer development.  That's where you started to realize, "This is what they're actually caring about, this is what they're businesses are like, this is what really matters to them."

Jordan: Exactly.  

Andy: And so once you did get out of the refactoring hell, once you turned the corner from there, did your job as selling it, get easier?  Did you notice it when talking to customers, passed anyone selling to ones that are hopefully going to join you in the future.  

Jordan: 00:06:02  So we're just coming out of that right now, so I think it's too early to say.  What I will say is that in that exercise of being — when I talk about really connecting with customers, I think that's general good advice, but it's easier because we're focused in one vertical.  

So, I can go to trade shows, I can maintain a continuity of knowledge about these people's problems, because they are in one industry.  Meaning I can really invest in understanding the business use case that I'm solving for.  

That has made sales a lot easier, but a long with that has come the tension of thinking, Ok, on average are ARPU is around $93 and you can only invest so much time at $93 price point.  How can we augment that?

And one of the ways we're doing that, is we're rolling out new features that are kind of a bolt-on, add-on type service.  Right now, inbound call tracking and text messaging would be an example of that.  I believe that that, which we're actually releasing right now, is gonna be one path for us to capture some of the value that comes from those deeper relationships, along with some of the ancillary activities that we're doing, which we'll talk about in a bit.

Andy: Right.  I think you touched on it a little bit, by talking about how being able to go deep into a vertical, being able to go deep into a specific industry, kind of a niche, lets you get so much more expertise that makes it easier to sell, easier to learn what matters, easier to just do your job.  And in building from that, you recently launched a conference.

Jordan: We did.

Andy: And this is what I want to focus a lot of time on, because I've been to a few conferences, I'm sure a lot of listeners have, and I can only imagine what it's like to put one on.  And I know that what I'm imagining is probably one-tenth of how much work it actually is.  So, I'm curious to hear, first just why you decided to put on a conference, and second, how you actually did it and what that process was like.  Why don't we get started with why. 

Jordan: So it really comes back to my core business philosophy of playing the long game.  And for me, that means creating as much value as possible in the near-term, knowing that even if you don't have a value capture mechanism, or monetization engine that is commensurate with the amount of value that you're creating, long-term that's just my business religion and the path to follow that leads to profits.  

Related to that, typically when we go to various trade shows and events, we're just one vendor among many.  By doing this, we transitioned our focus.  Instead of being the best possible vendor to moving laterally, and instead focusing on being the best possible educators and industry leaders.  Even if the jump from best vendor and best industry leader and educator is a radical, insane chasm, we thought maybe we could pull it off.  And, we had a great partner that we had really strong business alignment with in terms of culture and business objectives.  

I'm all about making the biggest reach that I can make and embracing some risk on an operational basis.  Risk-reward was very, very high, but I just know that trust and authority are the most precious commodities that you can build and this was the most efficient way to do it.

Andy: Looking at it, so it was the PM Growth Summit.  Property Management…Property Manager Growth Summit?

Jordan:   Property Management.

Andy:   Ok, I'll get that cleaned up in the audio.  In this space, I'm sure there were other conferences out there that are trying to achieve, at least, relatively similar goals in terms of education and speakers.  Is that accurate or is this the only one out there for this segment of the market?

Jordan:   So there's one trade organization that is kind of the 500lb gorilla, and the do put on a regular event, but it's run as a non-profit organization.  There focus is very much on operations, i.e., how to perform the service, and not on sales, growth, and marketing.  

And so you can imagine, as a software company that — our mindset around growth and thinking about lifetime value, cacq, customer acquisition, all those things, there's quite a bit that we can provide to your average small business in terms of content that inspires them on how to grow their business. 

That really was our focus and not operations.  Because I'm simply not qualified to tell people about how to facilitate an eviction.

Andy: That actually surprises me that there isn't more out there for property managers, because it's — while you call it a niche, while you call it a narrowly defined vertical, there's a lot of property managers out there.  Roughly how big is that market?

Jordan: Really, the focus here is single family, so don't think multi-family and big apartment complexes or commercial.  Within the single family realm, there's probably somewhere between, depending on who you ask — what data you look at — 20-40 thousand property management companies in the US.

Andy: Which is still a lot.

Jordan: Yeah, yeah there is a lot.  But you know what I find,  people rise to the occasion, and in this regard, because we're dealing with SMBs, one, and two, SMBs that — just as a reference point — tend to be, maybe five to ten years behind even real estate.  

And you can imagine how advanced, in terms of business practices your average real estate agent is.  The vendors that work in the space, I think feel comfortable not creating that kind of value, because they can afford to get away with it.  Nobody faults them for it.

Andy: Interesting.  And you said you worked with a partner on getting this out there.  Who was that partner and how did you find them?

Jordan: So the partner's name is Alex, and he runs a marketing agency called Four and a Half.  And I've known about him for some time, and we actually had a business relationship first.  Imagine his marketing agency generating leads, we are a SaaS company helping people actually close those leads with our CRM.  

Marriage made in heaven.  And so we had a biz dev relationship first and from that grew a friendship and the belief that we could actually jump — make a big jump, and it happened to work out.  

Andy: And so, was it something where you had the idea for the conference to reach out to him?  Was it more of a mutual thing?  How did that actually come about?

Jordan: It was at the bar kind of thing.  Having drinks and, "Hey, here's a crazy idea, what do you think?"  And for me, it was more of, "Hey, here's a crazy idea because I have them all the time" and for him it was more like he heard it, and the next thing I knew, he wanted to make plans to actually have it happen.  And I was like, "Yeah, let's go ahead and actually do it, it does sound like a good idea."

Andy: So when you both agree that this is a good idea, let's move forward, what is the first step you have to take?  

Jordan: It's a couple of things to know.  One, we actually had a third partner.  A third industry player that was part of it initially, but they ended up backing out.  And our first step jointly was to actually form an entity, because none of us wanted to run that revenue through our books.  

So we formed a new entity to do it and then really, the very first meaningful step was to actually hire a conference coordinator, because none of us was insane enough to think that we actually had the time, effort or skill to do that on our own.  Once we hired a conference coordinator, we were kind of working within the lines and the guidance that we were provided.

Andy: How did you find the coordinator?

Jordan: We found the conference coordinator, because I had attended another event, MicroConf, and Xander Castro, who runs that event for those guys, did a fantastic job, so it was just logical that I would at least reach out to somebody that had already put on a good event that I'd been to.  

Andy: And I can see obviously how that makes it less of a scary endeavour, because you know you at least have someone guiding you through what's important.  But there are so a lot of unknowns along the way.  What were you most concerned about before getting started?

Once you've committed, once you've said, "We're going to do this" what were the top fears you had in mind?

Jordan: The biggest concern was just that we were going to be on the hook for a lot of money.  When renting out the hotel and a room block, and all that, that's hard cash.  So worst case scenario, if we had fallen flat on our faces, we would have been in the hole.

Andy: And then, how did you even determine where to have it?  Because you did it in, West Palm Beach?

Jordan: Yes, West Palm Beach.

Andy: Do either of you live there?

Jordan:   No, so we knew we wanted to do it in January, to capture the momentum of starting, kicking off the year, thinking about growth, etc.  We also didn't want to conflict with any other existing conferences or events, and in January — I'm from Portland, and you're not doing anything in Portland in January.  And really, there's a limited number of places in January, and south Florida happens to be one of them.

Andy: Once you've decided on the location and all of that, and you've put down this money, what has to happen?  You need to get sponsors, you need to get speakers, you need to just get everything together.  So where do you even go to get started?

Jordan: That's a great question.  We got some initial guidance from Xander that laid out what the big picture steps were, overall budget model, etc.  But then we really just started chiseling area by area.  We delegated responsibilities.  

Alex, my partner, handled the sponsors, I handled speakers.  We made joint decisions about things like venue, marketing strategy, ticket sales, etc.  But we did as much as we needed to, to get to that first step which is actually turning things on and ticket sales.  

Because we were going to know within 30 days of starting ticket sales, whether or not this was a complete disaster.  So we were kind of holding our breath there, but we did open ticket sales and we sold about 20 tickets right out of the gate and then from there it was just a slow process of doing more marketing.  

What we found, was that the ticket sales were actually steady the entire time.  There was no real spike.  Which was kind of contrary to what I would've expected.  

But we just slogged it out, find a new channel, use a new partner to work through their list, come up with a new piece of content marketing.  All that stuff.

Andy: What were the channels you used to drive those early ticket sales?  I guess, throughout the process to drive the ticket sales?

Jordan: So we drove the initial ticket sales just based off brand reputation and network.  But, past that, we immediately transitioned to using our in-house lists.  Starting off with just a cold — not cold — just starting off with an explicit sales email, and from there, transitioning to focusing on content related to the event.  

For example, doing podcast interviews with event speakers, having every event speaker create a promo video, and sending those out on a week by week basis to the new list that we created for the event, and really focusing on quality content.  

I really focused on design and the branding elements, because I knew that there was enough of a vacuum in the space, that if I could put off enough quality signals, people would show up.  People would be interested, and people would show up.  That really worked in our favour, it was just investing in a level of quality that is above average for the industry.

Andy: How many tickets did you have?

Jordan: So we wanted to sell — initially we said, "Ok we need to sell 100 tickets to break even, we'd like to sell 150."  We ended up selling around 164.  And the price point on those was actually fairly high.  The average ticket price was over $1000.

Andy: I guess you needed to make about $100,000 to break even?  Is that how the math works out?  Or roughly, how much do you have to lay out to make this happen?

Jordan: That's about right.  About 100K to cover costs and and just barely get it by.  Because we did not — we were very clear in understanding that this was not any kind of a charity event, and it was not ok to be in the red and using our businesses to subsidize this event.  We wanted it to be the other way around.

Andy: I know you had talked about how this was the easiest, most logical, most efficient step for you to really establish that positioning in the market that you're looking for.  You're still taking a big leap on something you haven't done before.  

Where did you find the confidence?  What was the push to really say, "Alright, we're laying a lot of money out there for this."  Where did you get the confidence to say that this is worth it?

Jordan: Yeah, I like risk, and I like a challenge, and I knew that this was a massive growth opportunity, that if we could pull it off, would give us a platform for us to do a variety of other very, very interesting things.  So that's where we are at right now.  

On the backside of this thing, what I'm finding is that immediately, there's a tangible dollar impact on both of our businesses.  On our side selling software, on his side selling agency services.Additionally, the perceived value in relationships when I'm doing things like negotiating a contract with a large enterprise client, trying to land a contract or working with other vendors that we would like to have.  Either do biz dev initiatives, or product integrations, etc. the tenure of all those conversations has significantly changed as a result of the catapulting value of our brand, purely because we did this event.  That literally happened overnight.

Once we said we were going to put on the event, it got in motion, but ultimately, we saw it with our own eyes within a 24-hour window of who we were before we got on stage and who we were after.  For that reason alone, I'm very happy that we took the risk and I want to continue to take big risks where there's a big upside.  If you're into that, what's the point in getting into the startup game in the first place.

Andy: It's a fair point.  You're taking on a ton of risk.  If that's not what you want, you can be relatively well compensated in a traditional job without that risk.  And without all the stress.  You need to make sure there is some upside that you are going after.  

But with that being said, it seems like the ticket sales was easier than you thought it would be, working with Xander smoothed out a lot of the bumps in the road, but were there any hiccups along the way?  I mean, you lost a partner along the way, so what else went wrong during the process that you weren't planning on happening?

Jordan: What went wrong?  I think that it was less about what went wrong, and it was more what we kept thinking was going to wrong.  In terms of ticket sales, I was just expecting there to be a plateau, or a cliff.  Right?  "Things are going great" but halfway through, things fizzle out and we're short 50k, or once the event is actually happening, somebody on stage has a panic attack or a seizure, or an attendee slips on a banana peel and we've got a lawsuit.  Surely something must happen, but I think that my mind and my imagination were overactive in that regard, just because I hadn't done it.  In reality, I've done enough stuff in my career as an entrepreneur, building up a couple businesses, that it's really just a grind.  The ticket sales wasn't easy, it's just that it responded to grind after grind after grind.

Andy: I think that's an important point to hit on, because I know we've spoken before this about the ticket sales and all that.  It wasn't that it was easy, you were surprised at how consistent it was.  But it's not like — you were writing emails every single week.  You were reaching out to people, you were doing — you were working a lot, and it wasn't that it was easy.  It went according to plan, but to get that plan in action took a ton of work.

Jordan: Yeah, absolutely.  I think that the reason — in one sense it was easier because what I was selling wasn't product, it was education.  And if you can really create amazing content and education, who doesn't want that?  And if you're in a less crowded space, like we are, it was really a slam dunk.  So once I got some good speakers lined up and I really perfected the messaging, that's what people were responding to, and that's just in line with the overall — what it means to play the long game.  To focus on creating as much value as possible.

Andy: And so, you get through this grind, it all goes according to plan, up to the point of launch.  And then how does it go?  What is the event actually like?  Was it what you expected?  

Jordan: I would say it blew away all of my expectations in every regard.  I was more stressed out than I should have been for having run it the first time, so I wasn't cool as a cucumber like some other events where I've been to.  Like Robb at MicroConf.  

I wish I could have just sat in every talk and just enjoyed it, but I was still sweating the details until the last minute, I was a little nervous.  But the response from the attendees was amazing and all of the speakers gave great talks, so once it was done, it was just a huge sigh of relief.  We actually went to the Four Seasons afterward and had a little spa treatment day, which was just an amazing cathartic experience.  Coming down off of this success.

Andy: I feel like it was well deserved after all the work that went into it.  From idea until you have the conference, how much time elapsed?  How much work went into planning this over the months?

Jordan: I'd say it was probably eight months, and in terms of how much effort, I have hundreds of hours, I don't know exactly, but hundreds of hours.  

Andy: Right, because you still have your business you need to run, you still have the day to day that you have to take care of, but this is on your plate that entire time.

Jordan: Exactly!  What I'm grateful for now is that now we have infrastructure and systems that we can use so when we do this event again, we want to double the size of the attendants, but we want to spend half as much time actually pulling it off.  I think that is feasible because of how much infrastructure we have in place right now.

Andy: And to go on with that, the event was a big success.  You had big plans for it, but what does the real future look like of this conference as it relates to both of your businesses?  How do you see this fitting in to the business in going forward and driving growth?

Jordan: I think that it puts us in a much better position to be selling software that is directly tied to a vision that aligns with our user's goals.  Rather than having to sell people on some kind of a vision, we're starting off from a position of buy-in and it's more about timing and implementation.  

That is a huge win for us, but then also, partnerships and enterprise deals are going to be easier going forward as a result.  So that's how it impacts our software business, but the truth is that the entity itself has a ton of potential.  So that entity will do more events.  

We're looking at doing some mid-year mastermind type stuff, but we could take it a million different places.  If we want to do consulting, we can do consulting.  If we want to start another product, we can start another product.  The options are wide open, as they always are once you've established trust and authority.  

Andy: I know exactly what you mean.  When you think about all the possibilities it's almost endless.  But what are you focused on for say the next six months?  Next year?  Leading up to the next conference.  Is it really just, "Alright, let's make this one big and let's do it more efficiently, let's do it better this time"?

Jordan: Yeah, so it really is this.  And this isn't something I've talked publicly much about, but we're going to do some masterminds that are much more intimate, and we're also looking at doing at least one consulting project, with the goal being — I want to go as far from selling $99 a month software as possible, in terms of being deep, deep in the weeds of someone's business.  

What I know, is if I can fluently speak the language, examine a PNL, generate insights, help you pivot sales and marketing to drive overall success in your business — if I'm capable of doing that for one individual, then I'm capable of productizing those insights into a variety of different ways.  

So, that's really my goal, is to get into this as deep as I can for a smaller pool of people and keep pursuing opportunities from there.

Andy:   Are you concerned at all?  Because I know your background was more on the service side of things with selling leads.  And you didn't like that side of the business, because — 

Jordan:  It's horrible.

Andy: So is the reason this side of it is more appealing because you're not in the weeds and you're doing more higher level consulting, is that what makes it appealing, or what is it?

Jordan: It's really that the selling leads was transactional.  There was a barrier and a wall between me and my clients and the customers were not aligned in terms of incentives.  I was selling them leads but really what they wanted was customers and they lacked the sales acumen and ability to efficiently close those leads, which meant that there was always an adversarial relationship, so if I can find a way to actually have a genuine, meaningful relationship where incentives are aligned, the world is your oyster.

Andy: And I think that is a good way of putting it, because it does change the relationship from the business you originally had, selling leads to what you're looking to get into and what you're starting to offer now.  

Because one is that of a vendor who doesn't have any control really over what happens once the leads leave your control and go to the client, and the other is someone who is advising the client on a high level, they're the expert, they're being come to for help, and it just changes the dynamic entirely.  

And so to tie things back to the conference a bit, I'm curious — I know listeners are probably wondering, "All right, I see the appeal.  I'm interested in content marketing, I get the value of being an authority" but who do you think a conference is for?  

What kind of companies should even consider even putting on something like this?

Jordan: You know, that's a great question.  I'd say that anybody that feels like there's an obvious way for them to monetize trust and authority could pull of and exercise this same strategy.  That's pretty generic.  

If I was going to get any more specific beyond that, I would just say that you need to have a baseline platform to allow you to be able to move some tickets.  

And you need to have the right kind of partners.  Both in terms of somebody to actually coordinate the conference, but also another partner where the two of you added is enough of a platform that you're confident that you can actually have enough reach to sell those tickets.

Andy: I like that.  You started with the high level:  This is what it does for you, this is what it can achieve, how it can fit into your own big picture strategy, but then you really talked about what actually matters.  Because you're right, you do need an audience.  If you're starting to get into content marketing and building authority, this isn't the first step.  

You need to have a platform that you can leverage to get the people in the door and to have some of those relationships set up.  But, if you've been doing that, and you've been growing your audience, if you've already go people that come to you and trust you, then this could be a good way to take it to the next level.  To really accelerate.  

Because hearing you talk about how much this has changed your sales calls, how people view your company, your brands, it really is impressive how powerful of a tactic this is.  And, 00:30:07  I don't want play it down and make it seem like this wasn't a lot of work — and that's the other thing, the results you talk about very casually are impressive.  But, and I think you downplay a bit in talking about that…how much work went into this.  

And I do want listeners to realize that.  If you jump into this, this is going to suck up a lot of your life.  If it's a good fit for your business, it's probably worth it, but keep that in mind, that you can't just go about this in a half assed manner.

Jordan: Absolutely, for sure.  The fact that I have a recurring revenue business that I could step away from and it would go sideways, that's obviously the magic of SaaS.  If your income and the growth of the business, or the sustaining of the business is directly tied to your time, then this would be a bigger bet.  

But, for a lot of SaaS companies, if your goal is to actually break even or make a little money on the event, and you orient around that, then I think that it's probably something that you could feasibly pull off.  At the end, we ended up having around a 15% profit margin.  So that's not a profit center such that we view this as being a money-making opportunity, but that's enough of a padding that some things can go wrong and you've got some margin for error.

Andy: Absolutely.  Honestly, Jordan, you gave us a ton today, and this was a subject I haven't heard too many people talk about in detail.  Which is surprising, because when you think about the companies, the brands that host conferences, everything you've talked about applies to them.  You see them as a true leader in their field.  They really do stand out from their competition.  

But, it's just such a — from an outsider looking in, it seems like an insurmountable thing to accomplish, so you've kind of brought it down to reality while still having the caveat, "Hey, this is how you can do it, but it's going to take some work to get there, but at the same time, probably worth it."  

So I appreciate you sharing all of that, and before we start wrapping up, I like to ask all of my guests just a few rapid fire questions.  I'll go through them pretty quickly, but your answers don't need to be short or anything like that.

The first one is, currently, what are you spending too much time doing?

Jordan: I am still spending too much time satiating my impulse to do creative work.  For example, creating sales collateral, or designing an email, etc.  I find that deeply compelling and my quality bar is high, but the fact that I'm actually doing it is a problem, as opposed to outsourcing it.

Andy: Is the reason you don't outsource it because you enjoy doing it?  Because your standards are so high that you'd have a hard time outsourcing it, or because you don't have anyone to outsource it to?

Jordan: It's definitely all three of those things for sure, but I think really, what needs to change in that equation, is being — not making my quality bar — not projecting my personal quality bar onto my customers, because I'm not selling to designers.  I'm selling to real estate companies, and the reality is, I could take a 20% bump on my own personal quality standards, and people are still pretty happy.  

Andy: Leading from that, what do you not spend enough time doing?

Jordan: Right now, I would say that I don't spend enough time — in this specific space of time, a bigger focus for me needs to be on automation and sustainable content marketing.  So really, in the same way that I'm getting leverage within the product for users, I want to get leverage for my users who are consuming content by more efficiently creating content and better leveraging what I already have.

Andy: And then you have the conference behind you, so in the next quarter, what are you hoping to tack on next at LeadSimple?

Jordan: Right now, for the next quarter, we are launching some major features, hiring at least one more developer, and also doing exactly what I just said in building up that content machine, so I'm just getting more leverage out of my efforts as opposed to creating original content from scratch every time we want to release something.

Andy: And obviously I don't want to jinx anything, but if you could potentially see on obstacle getting in the way of you achieving those goals in the next quarter, what would that obstacle be?

Jordan: The grey matter in between my ears.  It's really just a mindset issue of staying focused on what matters and avoid focusing on non-dollar producing activities within the business and allowing — basically just being proactive versus reactive.  We're still small enough that it is easy for me to feel validated as opposed to really blocking out time and focusing on the highest value activities.

Andy: Yeah, and that's the thing I think every early stage founder can relate to.  When you don't have this full team around you that can handle anything and everything that comes to you, it is easy to get sucked into the things that ultimately aren't really pushing the company forward as much as some of the other activities are.  

It's something that everyone has to deal with in whatever way they can.  But, honestly Jordan, you really did give us a ton and I want to say thanks so much for coming on the show.  But before we say goodbye, if listeners are curious about hearing more and following your story and seeing what you're up to, where are the best places for them to go?

Jordan: Best places would be LeadSimple.com.  The blog on the site as well as the PM Growth Summit.  We're going to be releasing the videos from the conference, so if anybody happens to work in the property management space, check them out.

Andy: Or if you just want to see what a well-run conference looks like from the web presence, any of those things — to see how they put it on, see how they approach it.  It can be just good learning for anyone else who is interested in launching conferences, to see what else is out there.  Definitely check those things out.  I'll get everything linked up in the show notes and Jordan, I just want to say thank you so much for your time today, it was a lot of fun chatting.

Jordan: Yeah, absolutely.