141: What it takes to build & scale a $100M lifestyle brand with Jake Kassan
Do you want to know what it really takes to build a $100 million business and brand? Then this episode is for you.
Posted by: Austin Brawner on May 03, 2018
Not literally, of course.
I got an email a couple of days ago from James Clear titled My 2015 Annual Review. I really like his blog, and I love reading year-end reviews, because I think honest reflection is the best way to move forward and grow.
James was candid, and he inspired me to open up and talk honestly about myself and my business.
So I’m opening my kimono. I’m going to talk about all the good and all the bad that happened this last year at Ecommerce Influence.
And I’ll try not to leave anything out.
Chad and I explored our creative side and put together some unique episodes that I’m proud of.
Check out our statistics below. Almost all of our downloads came in the last year, and we grew a ton!
Total Downloads in 2015: 111,878
Total Downloads All-Time: 157,395
The podcast is still one of the foundations of Ecommerce Influence and I’m proud of the episodes we put out this year. (It wasn’t all roses though… as you’ll see in part 2)
Partnerships: We began working more with our partners in 2015, and it helped us expand and give our clients more services and support than they would get just working with us.
One of my big goals this last year was to partner with Klaviyo – to be their preferred email marketing agency and get preferred pricing for our clients. That happened mid-way through the year and has been instrumental to our growth.
Team Growth: We matured and improved as a team and organization this year. I stopped running the day-to-day operations of our email marketing agency and moved into a supervisory role. Ian and Lisa took over and led our email marketing strategy to new heights. Our clients saw a massive improvement in their results.
In the past, I struggled to pass off important work to my team. But this year I took the leap of faith, and the whole business grew and improved because of it. I have complete confidence in their work, and we’re able to work faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Moving: I can say a lot about moving this year… because I did it twice! I’ll start with the positive, which was moving to Austin, Texas in September. I think I found a place that reflects what the business (and I) need right now. It’s packed full of entrepreneurs and it’s a great place to grow a business. If you’re in Austin TX… email me!
Moving: Moving to New York, NY. I won’t say this was a complete disaster because I enjoyed the heck out my time there, but it didn’t work out the way I expected. I moved to NYC in April of last year and moved out in September. I thought I was going to stay there for a long time but it was a bad fit for the business. It was difficult to work from NYC while the rest of my team was in Los Angeles, CA and expanding the team in Manhattan was expensive. We couldn’t experiment as much as we’d like with our increased overhead.
I’m happy that I got the opportunity to live in NYC even though it didn’t work out as planned. I was frustrated when I left NYC back in September because I had really just moved there, but now that I’m in Austin, TX it feels like everything worked out for the better.
One thing is for certain, I will not be moving as much in 2016…
Business Partnership: Chad and I split up the business this year. I couldn’t have anticipated it at the onset of 2015, but it happened. Even though I know it was for the best, I’m still dealing with some fallout with our podcast and marketing efforts.
We set up the business so I handled operations and client fulfillment, and Chad headed up the podcast and marketing. When we split up the business I had to dive in and take over a lot of his work. This led to some overwhelm in the last quarter of the year, and I was frustrated with myself for missing deadlines, especially on the podcast.
Speaking of the podcast…
Podcast: Towards the end of the year, podcasting felt more like a burden than a blessing.
I made the mistake of skipping a few episodes because I was swamped with our website redesign, and it’s been hard to get back in the rhythm.
I put a lot of pressure on myself, and it sent me into a downward spiral. I wanted to create something really, really good to make up for the episodes I missed. As you can see, it’s the beginning of the year and I still haven’t put out a new episode!
I underestimated the time and effort it takes to run a podcast. When we first started the podcast I was involved with everything But as we grew and gained more clients I became less involved out of necessity. As I took over the production role again, I should have anticipated a lot more work than I did.
The Brand Academy: All of our energy is dedicated to the re-launch of The Ecommerce Influence Brand Academy. We built a spiffy new platform to support it, and I can’t be more thrilled to share it with you all!
The Academy is the only community in the world entirely dedicated to helping entrepreneurs “level up” from selling their first hundred products online, to becoming successful business owners and building formidable brands.
You’ll be learning a lot more about the Brand Academy in the upcoming month, and you can sign up here to be on the waitlist.
Writing: One of my goals for 2016 is to write 750 words every single day this year.
I’m in the middle of reading the phenomenal book series The Last Lion Series about Winston Churchill and I’m inspired by how prolific a writer Churchill was. Even in the middle of the war he was knocking out thousands of words a day! If he could write a couple of thousand words a day with bombs dropping on London and the fate of western civilization resting squarely on his broad shoulders, I can squeeze out 750 of my own.
That said, this is going to be a challenge for me. I’ve set writing goals in the past and I always fall off after a month or two. This is the first time I’ve made my goal public, and I’m hoping the social pressure keeps me going!
If you’re interested in joining me, you can check out a great resource for inspiration and accountability called 750 Words.
Become The Least Worthy In The Room: I always experience the most growth when I’m the least qualified or experienced person in the room. Growth comes quicker when you’re surrounded by people who have already gone through problems you’re dealing with, as they can help you level up quicker.
This year I’m dedicated to finding and joining a group where I’m the least worthy person in the room.
Now there’s a difference between being the least qualified person in the room, and being the lowest contributor. Being less qualified is tolerated (you’ve got to start somewhere!), but if you don’t contribute you’ll be un-invited from the group!
I often find myself forgetting to reach out to others when I’ve got big projects looming. This year I want to spend more time connecting with other skilled entrepreneurs even when I’m busy. The relationships I’ve built over the last few years are what I’ve valued most during this entrepreneurial journey and I want to find or build a mastermind group of peers to collectively grow to the next level.
Enter your email to get our proven resources that will help you achieve massive growth without the burnout.