Top Lessons & Insights Learned From SaaStock 2016
Yuli Azarch | December 1, 2016 | No Comments on Top Lessons & Insights Learned From SaaStock 2016
1. Surround yourself with people who are doing much, much better than you.
Something I’ve noticed is it’s very important to surround yourself with people who are doing much, much better than you. In this conference I actually spoke to lots of people who are running $10 million companies, $20 million companies, or $40 million companies; people who have 40, 50, or 100 employees in their companies; venture capitalists (VC), capital firms who are looking to invest in companies; and overall, lots of successful people, people who are doing much better than what I’m doing right now.
The benefit of surrounding yourself and talking to such people is it disturbs you. Personally, it really disturbed me to be around them, but in a good way. What I mean by this is now I want to do better because I just spoke to plenty of people who consider $10 million a year a small amount, and it puts things in perspective. It disturbs me. Now I want to do better. I want to create more companies or just scale my companies to be much, much bigger, because I see what’s out there, I see what other founders are doing, and I see what is possible today.
If I’ll go and hang out with people who are doing much worse than I am and I’ll be the best in that group, I won’t be disturbed. I’ll feel good. I’ll think that I’m doing the best here, and maybe I’ll go and brag about it, but it won’t make me grow. And if you want to go, grow, get more income, and scale the company, you want to surround yourself with people who are doing much, much better than you. You want to disturb yourself, and this is very good.
2. The most successful people successful people are much easier to talk to and reach.
The second top lesson that I’ve taken from the event and that I’ve noticed from networking and talking to lots of people is that the most successful people successful people are much easier to talk to and reach than people who are less successful. Sometimes people see someone talking as speaker in a conference, and these speakers get this god-like status. People think they can’t even talk to him or go to him, but actually, it’s completely the opposite.
I talked to a few speakers in the event, and I talked to a few people who are doing $10 million to $20 million in yearly revenue in their companies, and I found them to be much nicer, much more accessible, and much more willing to give helpful tips and actually talk to me, as opposed to people who just founded their company and are on the second or third month of their journey.
The key lesson is don’t be afraid to approach successful people. Successful people are much more approachable than you think, and I think that the most successful person would be more willing to talk to you, be nice, and give helpful tips, because when you’re successful, you want to pass it onward. So I think that’s a great key lesson.
3. You want to network a lot and build your network.
You want to network a lot and build your network. Networking is everything. Your connections are everything. The people you know is much more valuable than the money you have. I really believe it. In these last two days, I’ve networked with lots of people. I’ve created lots of relationships with people who, if needed, I can send a message, ask a question, or shoot an e-mail, and they can do the same to me. I can help them, and they can help me. It’s really crucial because sometimes you can find the answer from someone who already went through the same thing. That can save you months and sometimes years of your life. Plus, they can introduce you to other people. Maybe I need to talk to someone, and I tell them, “Hey, I’m looking for A, B, or C,” and they could just connect me to someone.
So increasing your network and networking, I think, is really crucial. And not just this, but in general, in conferences, I believe networking is much more important than actual content. The content is great. I listened to lots of great talks, and I learned a lot. But actual networking and the people I meet is the biggest value in conferences.
That’s personally what I find for myself and for the past conferences I’ve been to for many years. Most of the time, although not always, content can be found in blogs, in podcasts, and in other places. But when you talk face-to-face with different founders and different people who are doing well, they’ll give you small tips that you won’t usually get elsewhere. So talking face-to-face with people is crucial.
Also, the nice thing about conferences is you’re learning about a subject all day long. I myself listen to some relevant podcasts as well, and I can listen for maybe half an hour a day, maybe two hours if I’m listening a lot in that particular day. But here, from morning to night, you’re immersing yourself in one subject and taking lots of notes, and I believe this type of immersion including networking with people is helpful.
4. Spend time with people when you network with them.
Another key lesson is spending time with people when you network with them. Sometimes you can talk to someone for five minutes, and you think he’s not paying attention to the conversation and you’re not sure he’s a great person to talk to. But I find that if you actually spend time maybe for 5 or 10 minutes, only because you’ve spoken for a few minutes, you’ll actually see how you can help each other, maybe introduce someone, maybe do business together in some way, or maybe create some kind of relationship. So if you talk to someone, don’t leave right away after 30 seconds.
Also, don’t be a jackass. I know some people do it. They talk to someone for 10 seconds, and when it looks like they’re not hitting off, they’ll say, “Okay, I need to go somewhere. Bye.” Don’t be a jackass when you’re talking to people in conferences.
If you find someone with whom you don’t fit, talk to him for a few minutes, and you can nice say, “Hey, I want to grab a drink,” “I need to go to the toilet,” or “I need to meet someone .” Something between those lines. That’s completely okay, but don’t be a jackass. I know I personally I don’t like it when people do it to me. Also, I think you should spend at least 5 to 10 minutes speaking to someone, because you never know what will come out of it. Maybe he’ll introduce you to someone or something else.
5. There are many ways to achieve success.
Another key takeaway is there are many ways to achieve success. Even now, there were many talks from different founders at the event, and all of them had their own perspective. Someone got to $12 million a year without having sales people, just marketing. Another person said you need to hire sales people from day one to help your company. So there are many other ways toward general success. There’s not only one way to succeed. Just like there are many ways to get to failure, there are many ways to succeed. So there’s no right or wrong. That’s the key lesson that I’ve taken here. So look for what suits you and look for what’s right, and if one specific way is not right for you, you don’t have to do it. Again, there are many, many ways to succeed.
6. Raise your product price.
Another lesson I learned, or another nice trick, is raising your price. The SaaS model is basically a monthly subscription model. It’s a nice trick I’ve learned that can be applied but not limited to SaaS businesses.
– This can be applied to your core product. Offering it in a price higher than what you think it is worth. This may not even hurt conversions even one bit!
– If someone has been a client of yours for many years and you are actually working behind the scenes on improving the product, spending lots of value, have a team on a payroll, and adding new features and lots of other things, a nice trick you can do, after you add lots of value to them and add lots of feature, is to raise the price by even just $1 or 10% or 5%. But write and e-mail explaining to customers why you’re doing it.
Let’s say you have 3,000 customers and you’re going to raise the price by $1 or $2. You tell them, “Hey, guys, we’re raising the price by $2. We have lots of expenses. We’ve just added feature A, B, and C.” And explain to them why you’re doing it. Don’t just do it. That way, all users will not complain at all. If you have 3,000 users and just raise the price by $2 for all 3,000, you just increased your revenue by $6,000 per month, which in a year will be additional revenue of $74,000 in a year from this “trick.” But it’s something you need to use only if you’re really bringing the value to people.
7. Don’t stay in hotels during events!
Another lesson for me personally is not to stay in hotels. I hate staying in hotels. (That’s a personal take here!) In most hotels, I didn’t have a fridge, and I couldn’t really make anything, cook food, or prepare breakfast. So I find Airbnbs to be much more efficient if you’re coming to events. You can have your own breakfast. You can take care of yourself, work out, and make sure you have healthy food, so you’re healthy. When you’re healthy and you have more energy, you can network better, and you can get information much better for the whole conference or whatever it is you’re attending.
During the conference, if I had stayed in Airbnb, I could have controlled my food much more, and make sure I am staying in top peak performance easier. Only fast food was offered at the event, and that’s the case in many events.
8. It’s all about the people.
Another great lesson I got from speaking to lots of founders and successful people is it’s all about the people, the people in your team. Meaning, if you’re having a business or company with someone, it’s so crucial to have the right founder. If you’re hiring people inside your team, you want to have the best people possible. You want to hire and work only with A players, because if someone is not good, he’ll bring everyone down and the company will not grow. It’s crucially important to work with the best people possible.
Whatever position it is–whether it’s your founder, support, development, sales, or marketing–it doesn’t matter. You want the best people, and the team and the people you have in your company are responsible for growing your company and your income. Whether you’re doing an online business or whether you have a small business, when you’re hiring employees, even one or two people in your team, you want those one or two people to be fucking amazing.
You don’t want to work with bad people. It’s not worth it. So hire slowly and fire fast. I find this very true because I have 17 employees right now, and from firing some bad ones and hiring good ones, I saw in my companies how things are scaling and how my life has just improved dramatically.
9. Talk to customers.
Another key takeaway I’ve learned here is something I’m not doing myself, and it’s talking to customers. Whatever business you have, whatever product you’re selling, and whatever company you have, it’s very important to be face-to-face and talking to customers, because today in 2016 the world is changing so fast that everything that’s relevant right now may not be relevant in two years. Who knows. Lots of founders and CEOs of big companies recommended to talk to customers as a founder or CEO, and also to actually make your developers talk to customers. Get their feedback and understand the market more.
I know I don’t do it sometimes as well because I find it a waste of time. I want to do other things when I’m working on my business. But I know that’s something I’m personally going to change. I fully agree and understand it, because taking the appropriate time doesn’t have to be too much time. Interact with customers and make your employees interact with them as well, because you’ll understand your customers much better and your team will be able to serve their needs much better.
10. The last takeaway and lesson is you want to spend time and money on yourself.
Investing in yourself will bring you the biggest dividends possible, as opposed to anything else. I know many people forget it sometimes. I spent around $1,200 for a two-day conference, so it’s not the cheapest conference there is, but it’s important to invest in myself. I this know from past conferences I’ve been, and I believe investing in yourself will bring you the biggest dividends possible.
I know it brought me the biggest dividends from the previous events and conferences I’ve gone in the last six years. There were many times when I got to know many people. People who I met in conferences became my really good, close friends, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons from conferences.
Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be a conference. It can be a coach, or it can be books or some kind of training. Don’t just spend money on your business. Invest in yourself because, as I said before, your team is one of the most important things and investors are looking to invest in people. They are investing in teams, in people. So if you are the best version of yourself and if you invest in yourself, whatever company it is, whatever business you make, you’ll do better, you’ll be able to grow better, you’ll hustle, and you’ll do whatever is needed to succeed.
I hope you enjoyed my lessons and takeaways from SaaStock 2016.
Would love to hear your comments & thoughts!