Double the revenue of service-based businesses in 90 days

Simon Severino is the CEO of Strategy Sprints, Europe’s leading remote Growth Advisory. The 34 Certified Strategy Sprint coaches do only one thing: Double the revenue of service-based businesses in 90 days. Simon also teaches Growth Strategy in select business schools and hosts the Strategy Show podcast.

Simon Severino:
Simon Severino:
Simon Severino:

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Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back folks to the WP tonic show. It’s episode 589. We’ve got a great guest on the show. I’ve got Steven back, he’s back from his business trip and we got Simon Severino with us, the CEO of strategy sprints. Simon, would you like to give us a quick 10 to 2o second intro about yourself?

Simon Severino: Hey Jonathan, hey Steven Yeah. I am Simon Severino I am the CEO of strategy sprints. We help business owners have long vocations again because their business runs smoothly without them. And we have a program that is specialized in doubling revenue in 90 days. That’s the so-called strategies sprint. It’s a one-to-one implementation of our method called the strategy sprints, which is an operating system for an agile firm that can thrive in this current environment.

Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. And I got my normal co-host back from these trips. Steven, would you like to quickly introduce yourself? 

Steven Sauder: Yeah. Steven from zip we make Word Press fast by optimizing the code and the code that runs on the server 

Jonathan Denwood: Really does and before we go into the main part of our interview, I want to talk about one of our major sponsors that’s Castos. They basically host podcasts they provide the RSS feed. I was with another provider until about a month ago. They approached me I decided to actually buy one of their plans because the interface compared to the previous company that I was using was so much better. And it was about half the price of the other company. So I switched ships. We had discussions, I’ve mentioned that I was looking for a new major sponsor they straight away say, well, we would like to be there and they’ve become the major sponsor of the WP tonic show. 

I’ve just been blown away by the, with these, the use of their interface the support that I’ve got from their staff, they use Word Press as one of the key technologies for running their service. I can’t sing their praises. So if you are looking to become a podcaster, or you have clients that are asking for advice from you to get into podcasting, you definitely want to look at this service [Inaudible03:09] Castos you’ll find all the links to them in the show notes and on the WP tonic website. So let’s go into the main part of our discussion. So, Simon let’s start what you know you’ve been running your own podcast and you’ve been in this sector for a while. Are there some things that you see people and companies doing on a regular basis that don’t help them with their growth?

Simon Severino: Oh yes. And it is probably 90% of what most listeners right now are doing this week. So for example, being on a flophouse is not really helping your growth as fun as it is but it’s not helping your growth. Probably also running a podcast. If you’re running a podcast is probably also not helping your growth right now. So if you’re an agency, I try to empathize with who’s listening I imagine right now, two people running an agency and they have three people on staff and they have five people in the Philippines helping, and they have some vendors. Is that kind of the size that we’re talking about?

Jonathan Denwood: I don’t actually think we got all sizes of companies and people, from reasonably large plugin shops that might have from 50 to 100 people to a lot of the type size of organization you’ve just mentioned. Where the impression I get is that we have a very broad spectrum of people listening to the show.Simon Severino: Okay. Then we’ll have to cover different bases because there are different problems of different sizes, but let’s say we have an agency and we are less than 10 people. And we are doing around half a million and, we are having fun it’s everything better than we than having a corporate job we like it. But now our friends start saying, Hey, I miss you, we never play tennis you never have time, you look pale and you are not even that happy. And you work so much and you tell me that it does not work that it’s your life and it’s so creative. Yeah. Yeah. But what about having more time for us? So that’s the situation where I can have because, agencies, usually they spend their time on the wrong things and they’re doing too much. 

So, one of our clients, he has five kids he works just 17 hours per week and he’s doing 1 million in revenue, with help, in the Philippines, of course, a lot is outsourced some stuff is automated and this is where we are strong at. So in week 1 of our 90 days, coaching, we help analyze the time. How are you allocating your time? Write it down, make a list and then it says, okay, 6:30 breakfast for the kids, a first meeting, nine-second meeting, et cetera. So we have a list and then we ask a couple of questions. They are all about which one really helped moving growth forward. And so they start identifying the parts that are not so much moving growth forward. 

And then bit by bit we create a system. What is the system? We write it down we help them create a screencast. So, okay let’s say you are your coding code, but do it, record it and pass it over to somebody. So start training others. And then you write it down you have this small video now you, you can delegate it. And so bit by bit, we free up the founder team to work more on the business and less in the business. This is the first couple of weeks of the spring because it’s really important that you identify which things are really moving your forward and where are you just wasting time? You shouldn’t do it.

Jonathan Denwood: Alright, thank you over to you, Steven. 

Steven Sauder: That’s I feel like that really resonates with me right now. because like just like where I am with like a small team, right It’s all about, trying to get other people to do the nitty-gritty daily work, because I need to be in a place where I’m thinking about more long-term where are things going and how are we going to, hit our next goals and objectives as far as revenues or whatever that is? but when you’re stuck in the day to day work, it’s so hard to have that time and that space, to like to sit down and actually think about those long-term strategies or goals or how you’re going to make your revenue numbers or where’s, you know, all of those, like more strategy type of things. Do you, do you feel like it’s hard for people to let go of that though? Let go of the day-to-day, as I love to code let’s say I’m really good at coding, and is it hard to like have like a founder, the CEO, whoever, let go of those things. Because I feel like as a small team like that founder, that CEO, whoever it is like they started what they were good at. And so they are probably one of the best people in their organization or their team, at a given task.

Simon Severino: Absolutely. They are the fastest, they are the most experienced. So it usually lands on their plate and they love it. That’s where they come from that’s why they do it they love it. So I am a coach I love coaching. At some point, if it was pretty quick, it was at around 300,000 per year I couldn’t do anymore and I got more, more interesting clients and they wanted to work with me and bigger clients, but I couldn’t fulfill. So I was like, Hmm, that’s a bad model. If you get your dream clients and they want to work with you and you cannot take them, something is wrong. So we have to make space for the dream project and whatever your dream client is imagine, they call you and they say, okay, I want, to do this dream project with you and you don’t have that time, then we have to organize better.

So we help people organizing by first writing down all the marketing activities or the sales activities and all the operations very simple. And this, we try to delegate away from the founders. So they, they record it, they teach it, they give it to others because the founders, they need to work on the business and this is joint venture partners, the dream clients, everything growth-related, working on form fit and function of the marketing system on form fit and function of the sales system, writing one book per year about the topic that you want to be known for, that you want to be associated with when somebody Googles that term, you want to pop up. Well, then you need to create content around that, to be the expert about that for good. 

Steven Sauder: When you’re thinking about how to shift workload from you to other people, what’s the best strategy for doing that? Like outsourcing, like getting people from other places. Like, I dunno, like Upwork just pops into my mind like places where I can post jobs, people do the jobs or is it better to hire in the first couple of people because then they’re a little bit more tied to your overall business goals they’re not just task driven they actually have a little bit more skin in the game. Like how do you start going down that route if you’ve never gone down that route and you don’t have the people around you right now?

Simon Severino: We live in great times because we have so many options. You can, after you have identified the things that are really wasting your time, you can go out there and hire somebody in countries where the dollar per hour is very low, but people are smart and are disciplined and are loyal, and they’re doing amazing work and they deserve a chance and they are just one click away. So there are beautiful platforms that we use, but you also can just post, on, where do we post angel list and this other one with crunch, but it’s not a tech crunch. What is it? I always confuse it with tech crunch, Crunchbase, angle list, and then Upwork works for some people. And then there is these, online jobs dot P H, which I think is even better. And these are all very valuable options. And you can also hire because right now people are looking for jobs. If you post on LinkedIn and I did recently if you post on LinkedIn, I’m hiring, you get 40 applications per day of the best people. They have studied at Harvard and they want to work at strategy sprints.

 So what’s a good time for hiring, but you don’t need, you don’t really need to hire. I’m a friend of having a lean team and having people based on projects, not based on hours, and having the best people for the best task. Not just because you need to make them productive because they’re sitting around the best project, the best person for the best tasks. So it’s really easy to work remotely and fluctuation depends on your industry depends on how much fluctuation do you want. I want people to stay long with us. So I have the initial interviews I take more time in the initial interviews to filter out people. And I have my core, people staying very long with us. My initial VA from the Philippines, she has then become a marketing team a very important one she is now head of marketing. So, and, and it feels like she will work with us for the next 15 years. It’s really a core team. But she’s in the Philippines I’m in Vienna, Austria.

Steven Sauder: That’s really cool. Like being able to manage that, I feel like I’ve always liked just talking to other people and myself just always like, scared about like getting somebody that you’ve never met doing, like some core functionality of your business. Like, that’s always a terrifying thing, but, it’s probably more of an irrational fear than a rational fear because I mean, the person wants to keep working for you, right? They want to keep getting jobs too. And so, you know, they’re incentivized to do good work, but I think there’s just something in the back of a lot of people’s heads, that’s just, you know, scared of, of letting go of those things.

Simon Severino: It is tricky. And two things are tricky at the beginning it’s this emotional thing of letting the baby go. It’s my thing and I let it go. And later on, it’s really the nitty-gritty, because hiring it is a full-time job. And also training people is very time-intensive and supervising them and getting daily reports, then getting weekly reports, then getting monthly reports it takes time. So let’s talk about the first obstacle you are letting your baby go. You feel like, oh my God, what am I going to do then? So I can tell you that it’s much easier than you think. I fired myself from fulfillment in January 2020. And I remember that I was like, what? That’s it? It was really easy. Like other things were much harder yeah, it was really easier than I thought because you are still there. You are still in the loop, you see things working. For example, I have a Monday meeting and, I am out of fulfillment, so I don’t coach anymore, but I have certified strategy sprints coaches around the globe.

 And every Monday we have the Monday meeting, all coaches come together. I am the head coach. I supervise them and we go to all clients and there are three main numbers, revenue, client, happiness, churn rate. And we discuss, how are the numbers of Peter? How are the numbers, Sarah? So I am in the action I am not far away from it. This is one thing that I overvalue you are still there you’re still around you’re not completely. And then the second thing was okay, now I have 40 hours more per week what do I do with that.

 I was working 60, 70 hours. And now I have a 20 hours week. What do I do with the 20 hours? I’m not used to that and that, but that feels very quickly. So I started writing my first book. I had more time to do keynotes and podcasts. I started having somebody on my podcast every day Instead of every week. I started being on other people’s podcasts three times per day, instead of three times per week, et cetera. So some things are just intensified. I have more times for joint venture partners, we started a joint venture collaboration with Google. I started 48 small cross-promotions with people who serve the same, the same business owners, but have different offerings. So we started doing webinars, warps, and cross-promotion. And these are all growth activities that I had no time for before. So of course now our sales are much better. We have many, many more people who want to work with us because I am able to be on many podcasts to write books and so to spread the word more.

Jonathan Denwood: I think it’s time for us to go for our break. It’s been an interesting discussion so far. We will be back in a few moments.

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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back we’ve had an interesting discussion with Simon Severino CEO of strategy sprints. So we’ve been talking about, you know, some of the problems of running your agency but let’s talk about growth now you know, you make a bold statement on your website. We can help you double your revenue in 90 days. Can you- no obviously you’re not going to tell us all the things you do, but you know, hopefully, some of them. Can you give us some insight about some of the things, some of the strategies, and things that your advisors, do or try and get your clients to do that help them double their growth in 90 days?

Simon Severino: So, the first thing we do when we map out how they’re currently using their time, and we have them have more time to work on the business. Now, in week two, they have more time on the business on average is between 10 and 14 hours per week that we can free up this way. With this 10 to 14 hours now, we do strategy work, we look at the big picture. The first question is positioning. Are you selling to the right people, the right thing at the right price at the right place. And, usually, we find something there that can be optimized. Mostly the price can go up they usually undercharge because they don’t know what the max price is. We have the formulas, we are good at market research. We help them find the max price. So sometimes we increase the price by 25%.

Because usually, they don’t package it well, if you package it better, the first one is positioning. What, what you compare it to? The second one is the packaging. It like, if you remember slack at the beginning, I think Slack was going bankrupt 40 times and then they had one pitch and they said, okay, you know if you use slack, you don’t need emails anymore. And that was the moment that made it possible that they survived. And now they are striving and they’ve just been sold and they have an even brighter future in front of them. But it was really just this one pitch where they were able to get across what it really is. And this is typical for teams that they need to find the right packaging. 

So week three bread packaging. Then we can go up with the price. And now also we go into the sales process. What’s your sales script. What do you say on the phone? When do you shut up? Which words not to use? When you should not talk about features, but benefits? When do we say the price? How do you say the price? What do you say after you said the price? So we get to their sales recording. We give them customized impact and we have them create a sales script because in the sales call, every word, every silence makes a difference. So we help them, see the body language of the prospect better and interact better, understand them, better, serve them better. And so the conversion rate goes up. They on average, have something 10, 15% conversion rate. We get it up to 40%. 

And if you put these things together, higher price, higher conversion rates now you’ll see that it’s not that hard to double the revenue because we have a higher price. If you can increase the price by 25%, if you can increase the conversion rate by 25%. And if you can increase the frequency of the, buy, by 25%, then you have a revenue increase of 99%, which is basically doubling. And we can do it all the time because we have 12 sprints of one week each. So we have 12 times the chance to get it right. And we have done it so many times. We see a couple of things very quickly.

Steven Sauder: That’s, really, I really liked that methodology that like, instead of just focusing like on one thing, right? Like let’s focus on the conversion rate, let’s focus on the price or like, whatever, it’s, you’re saying like, Hey, we hit all of these things and we just improve them by 25%, you see this huge overarching improve it because you have, you know, this compounding or this multiple factors of improving one thing, places is often the next thing which plays off the next thing, when you’re going through these sprints, do you choose one sprint to focus on one thing like this sprint is about price. This sprint is about conversion. And then at the end, like you get that multiple factors or are you kind of like do it, all of the things in tandem and refining it every, every week for every sprint?

Simon Severino: Great question. So we always go for price, conversion rate, and frequency, but only for one offer. So if it’s a service business only for one offer, for example, our ideal, your website package, that’s one offer. Then we don’t do also the logo creation package or something else we pick one, we pick the winning horse. They usually have a couple of them, like, we can do the logo, we can do your website, but we can also do ongoing Word Press maintenance. So you have to pick one and this one will get optimized in 90 days. 

Steven Sauder: Okay. And then if you want to do another 90 days, then you would pick another one and optimize it. Or are you saying that like the goal is like, you just choose one thing and just like, keep focusing on that for a year or two years until you’ve like ran the whole, entire course of optimizing that and then focusing on the next thing or is it like you just do one for 90 days, the next one for 90 days and then maybe kind of cycle through it?

Simon Severino: Again, a great question, because usually, we agree at the beginning okay let’s pick the winning horse, let’s optimize that. And then they say, but the other one that I also love it, you know, the AI one, it will be something very soon Simon very soon. And that will say, okay, in the next sprint, we can do the AI thing. And usually, after the first sprint, they come back for a second sprint, but they don’t want to do the AI thing anymore because now, you know, the AI thing stands for it is fancy, but it’s not working yet. These kinds of projects, we all have some of these projects, they are shiny, but they are not profitable yet. And so, when they come for the second sprint, which they usually do, they say, no, no, let’s stick to what we just did in the first sprint I don’t want to touch anything else. I have now a machine that is working so well, let me just double this again, and let’s not touch anything else. I have something which is winning, which is working let the rest, be done by the competition. Steven Sauder: Is it hard for people to pick that one thing I feel like for me, it’d be hard to pick that one thing because I have so many things. And like you were saying like my favorite thing is definitely not the thing that’s the easiest to sell or the thing that’s even the most feature-complete. It’s like the thing that’s just barely an idea. And, you know, we’re just barely starting to play around with it and stuff, is like the one that like my heart wants but like, just hearing you talk through it, maybe the one that actually makes sense. The consistent winner, the one that always, you know, wins out the end or why people actually come to us is the thing that I’m not as excited about. But it’s probably where that optimization would make the most sense. And probably after you optimize this like you then have the time and the resources to pursue, you know, the more pie in the sky dreams.

Simon Severino: It is hard. It is absolutely hard because we are in love with what we do. And so I remember when I had my business coach myself, I had the same situation and my coach says, okay, make a list of all these things and now show me the profitability per project. And at that time I wasn’t, I wasn’t tracking for each project, the profitability, which of course I do now. But at that time I just had the revenue per project. And so I was checking revenue costs time, very roughly. And so my coach asked me for the profitability per, a project I don’t have. So I go to the numbers, I bring the numbers together and it was very clear that the most profitable thing was what I hated most. And so we had a long discussion, I think, two or three sessions just around that. What is the right thing to pick? 

And it’s not an easy question. And this is why numbers help because they bring an objective additionally, they bring reality into the room. Otherwise, it’s just me and my passion, and my passion makes money but there is also a reality component that shows you, oh, look here, it’s so much easier to grow this than to grow this. And that’s why having an external person, challenging you and asking you to bring the numbers it is helpful because we have our blind spot. I was just seeing my passion. I was not seeing the numbers.

Steven Sauder: Yeah. That, that blind spot is hard to see, especially- so when, when you didn’t have the numbers, did you have to wait until you, like, did you have to wait a certain amount of time to go by, to actually go back and get the numbers? Or are you able to recreate that? Because I feel like that’s a common situation that I found myself and I’m sure everybody else has It’s like, you’re like, all right, I should get some numbers to analyze it. And you go looking for those numbers, like, oh wait, I didn’t track my time. I didn’t track the expenses to every individual project. But we’d be able to like, just make guesses or-

Simon Severino: Yeah, we guessed. We estimate basically we guessed and then, but moving forward, we decided to now really track the main things very seriously. And I remember challenging my coach and saying, well, I don’t track these numbers because they are not reliable. And he said, something really good. He said they are not reliable because you don’t track them. And because you don’t track them, they stay unreliable. You can have another loop, just start tracking them they will be more reliable every week. You have them reliable, you have them repeatable. And it was right. I started tracking the things, the marketing numbers, ops numbers, sales numbers, they were unreliable in the first couple of weeks. They were just guessed numbers. Then, the reality and the numbers started coming together week by week. And now when somebody from my team estimates the sales of next week, it’s reliable. 
Jonathan Denwood:
Well, we need to wrap up the podcast, part of the show. are you okay to stay with us for another, 10, 15 minutes Simon, which we call bonus content, which the listeners and viewers can watch the whole interview, plus the bonus content on the WP tonic YouTube channel and on the website. So, before we wrap up, the podcast, I want to tell you about a webinar that I’m doing with Spencer Forum on the 14th of May.  it’s a series of 3 we are on number 2, and we’ll be covering everything around marketing automation and how you can now use Word Press with a number of key plugins to build a whole landing page marketing, email automation system that is at half the price of the active campaign or Infusionsoft by using the power of Word Press for yourself and for your clients, we’re going to be delving into the nitty-gritty of how to set up such a system. Like I say it’s going to be an hour free webinar on the 14th of May at 10:30 AM Pacific Standard Time. 

You can join by just going to the tonic website in the top navigation. There’s a button that says webinar, you click it, you can sign up. And then we will tell you, as we get closer to the 14th, we will send you a link and you can join us and ask us to live questions during the webinar about the technology that we’re using. That sounds great. So, Simon, what’s the best way for people to find out more about you and what you’re up to?

Simon Severino: I have a daily podcast it’s called the strategy Sprint podcast, and I hang out a lot in our private Facebook group. But if you say that you come from you guys, I will let everybody in just say it in the first question that you come from here. And that the Facebook group is called entrepreneurship in sprintsJonathan Denwood: Entrepreneurship in sprint if you put that into chat for us, Simon, I’ll make with the link, I’ll make sure that is very prominent in the show notes. So, Steven, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to Steven?

Steven Sauder: Head over to run a speed test, see how much faster your site can be. 

Jonathan Denwood: And I want to say Steven and his team have helped us at WP tonic, make our own website a bit speedier. It’s a bit of a, to say it’s a large website would be an understatement, but Steven really helped out with making it a speed machine we’ll be back you buy it next week. But remember go over to the YouTube channel and see the bonus content with Simon, we’ll see you, next week folks.

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