Lloyed Lobo is the co-founder of Boast.AI, which automates access to billions in R&D tax credits and innovation incentives to help businesses fuel their growth without giving up equity and dealing with red-tape.
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3 Value Bombs
1) If you don’t have an ideal customer, you won’t know what to build, what to do, and what service to provide. Focus brings clarity to your messaging.
2) As founders, what we don’t do well is we no longer stop and smell the roses. It’s important to enjoy life a bit everyday and appreciate things a bit more everyday.
3) One of the most important things to build and inspire a team for high performance is to hire smart people and get out of their way. You hire people so they tell you what to do – not the other way around.
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**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How to Bootstrap to $10+ Million in Revenue
[1:04] – Lloyed shares something that he believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- Relationships transcend companies. Companies and success are all about relationships. It’s not the money in your bank, it’s the people around your tombstone.
[1:52] – Setting the right business goals and KPIs.
- You can’t reach a goal that you don’t have set. What you don’t measure does not get done.
- If you don’t have a goal and you don’t break it down and play it out all the way today – and measure it week over week – the chances of it getting done are slim.
[3:00] – There are customers and there are ideal customers. How can we identify our ideal customers so we can focus on them?
- Focus is the hardest thing that most entrepreneurs face.
- If you do one thing really well, meaning one kind of customer coming through one kind of channel getting one kind of value, your chances of success are significantly higher than trying a dozen things and nothing working out.
- If you don’t have an ideal customer, you won’t know what to build, what to do, and what service to provide. Focus brings clarity to your messaging.
[7:55] – How can we identify the right marketing channels so we can acquire ideal customers?
- Have everything you do in business be data-driven. You have the goal. The goal is data. How you break down the goal today is also data.
- Anything you do that’s not done with cadence, doesn’t become successful.
[10:42] – A timeout to thank our sponsors, HubSpot and ZipRecruiter!
[13:26] – What are the best options to fund a business?
- The best way to fund your business is to get customers. Get, keep, and grow customers.
- Have conviction of the problem you are solving for the customer.
- Raising equity financing is a hard process.
- Nail it before you scale it.
[16:11] – Lloyed shares some personal lessons from his life failures and hardships, including almost dying from COVID.
- One of the hardest things he faced was a time in his company’s life where he felt he needed to get a job.
- He and his whole family got COVID. He ended up in the hospital. His oxygen levels were dropping and he had bilateral covid pneumonia.
- He made a pact that he was going to spend more time with his family and cut out everything he does as an entrepreneur that’s not needed and delegate it out so he can focus.
- As founders, what we don’t do well is that we no longer stop and smell roses. It’s important to enjoy life a bit everyday and appreciate things a bit more everyday. Doing a bit more everyday compounds and becomes a big thing.
[20:33] – Building and inspiring a team for high performance.
- One of the most important things to build and inspire a team for high performance is to hire smart people and get out of their way. You hire people so they tell you what to do – not the other way.
- Be a leader. The job of the leader is to build, inspire, and help people understand the mission and vision; give them the metrics and give them the autonomy to execute.
- Be an inputter, not an approver. If you’re an approver, you become a blocker.
[22:43] – Lloyed’s key takeaway and call to action for Fire Nation!
- Your R&D Tax on Autopilot – Sign up find out how much R&D Funding you can get!
Boom, shake the room, Fire Nation, JLD here, and welcome to Entrepreneurs On Fire brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like the salesmen podcast. Today, we'll be focusing on how to bootstrap to $10 million plus in revenue and to drop these value bonds. I are about to Lloyed Lobo on the mic. He is the co-founder of Boast.AI, which automates access to billions in R&D tax credits and innovation incentives to help businesses fuel their growth without giving up equity and dealing with red-tape and foundation. We'll talk about setting the right business goals and KPIs.
How do I identify ideal customers? We'll talk about our best options to fund our business without giving up equity and so much more. When we get back from thanking our sponsors, hiring can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but when you post a job on ZipRecruiter, their matching technology finds these qualified candidates for you and invites them to apply. So while other companies give you too many options, ZipRecruiter finds you the needle in the haystack. And right now you can try ZipRecruiter for free at ziprecruiter.com/fire. The HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business. Whether you're looking for marketing sales, service, or operational guidance, the HubSpot Podcast Network hosts have your back, listen, learn and grow with the HubSpot Podcast Network at hubspot.com/podcastnetwork.
1 (1m 35s):
Lloyed say what's
0 (1m 36s):
Up to Fire Nation and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
2 (1m 44s):
Hey, excited to be here. Thanks for having me. I think one of the most important things that people disagree with me, other entrepreneurs is relationships, transcend companies, companies, and success is all about relationships. It's not the money in your bank. It's the people around your tombstone. And if you follow that philosophy, you'll get ahead and be successful
0 (2m 4s):
In life. Well, Fire Nation, as I mentioned, we're talking about boot strapping, our little booties off specifically how to bootstrap to 10 plus million dollars in revenue. And we have some really cool things that we can talk about here today. But I want to start off with the basics. Like, let's start off Lloyed with talking about setting the right business goals and KPIs.
2 (2m 27s):
Awesome. Yes, can't succeed. And you can't reach a goal that you don't have set. Right? What you, what you don't measure does not get done in a lot of people I talk to, they have this pie in the sky goal, but it's not broken down into like, where can I get 12 months from now? Like, what do I need to happen? And then bringing it all the way back to today, what do you need to measure and track week over week over week? So I'll give you an example. When we started the company, we had a goal to hit a certain revenue number by certain amount of time and everything action we did, we were like, is it going to hit that goal? If we, if we let's say you had a goal that in three months, you need to get a quarter million in revenue.
2 (3m 10s):
How do you, how does that play out starting today? What are the actions you need to take each week to hit that goal? And if you don't have a goal and you don't break it down and play it out all the way to today and measure it week on week, then chances of that getting done are slim, or it may get done, or it may not get done. But what doesn't get, what doesn't get measured does not get done.
0 (3m 31s):
Listen, brother, they're our customers. And they're our ideal customers. How can we start to identify our ideal customer so we can just focus on them? Definitely.
2 (3m 43s):
And focus is the hardest thing that most entrepreneurs face, right? Like you're always chasing this shiny object. Or let me go and go and put something on Facebook, or let me try Twitter or let me cold call some people. And then after a while you realize as a bootstrap founder, that you're chasing a dozen things. And the thing is, if you do one thing really well, meaning one kind of customer coming through one kind of channel getting one kind of value. Your chances of success are significant. The higher than you're trying a dozen things and nothing quite working out like half-ass. And so one of the most important thing is nailing down your customer. If you don't have an ideal customer, then you don't know what to build and what to do.
2 (4m 27s):
And what service to provide focus brings clarity to your messaging. So an ideal customer is a person's title, their location, where they eat, breathe, drink, sleep, like who do they buy from? Who do they admire and, and what events and and groups do belong to. Once you have that ideal customer profile, you can map out everyone the whole, the whole ecosystem around them. And then you can start to dominate that by, by surfacing content, by surfacing partnerships and by being part of the groups where they are, that the people buy from people and people buy from people. They like. So the concept of understanding your ideal customer is just that let's nail that down.
2 (5m 9s):
What is the title? Where do they work? Where do they eat? Breathe, drink, sleep, nail it down to the perfect demographic and then test it out. You may, you may have a person that's the CEO of a startup in Silicon valley. That could be one ideal customer that is not raised any money. And you could have a ideal customer. That's the CEO of a construction company with 50 to a hundred people in Michigan. Now they both have very different problems. And the way I would look at it is create a hypothesis. I think this is my ideal customer and maybe create three of them, right? Like that CEO in a Silicon valley, tech startup, or a CEO of a manufacturing company in Michigan and, and, and build a list, see how many people exist in each, each of those profiles.
2 (5m 54s):
So you may find that, okay, there's 20,000 in this demographic here for the Silicon valley CEO. And there's maybe a thousand people, right? So the way you nailed down, the ideal customer profile is you have this hypothesis, put it on an Excel sheet, Google spreadsheet, two or three of them. Then you gotta identify how big is the market? How many of those people exist? How easy or hard it is to reach them and what is the propensity to pay? So you may, you may map this out and say, okay, you got the manufacturing CEO from Michigan. You've got the Silicon valley startup CEO. How many people such people exist, maybe it's equal. Maybe it's like 20,000 manufacturing CEOs and 20,000 startup founders.
2 (6m 35s):
What is the propensity of them to pay now? You know, startups are mostly starting to get funded. A lot of them are funded. So they have a wallet. They can pay. Manufacturing is suffering. Maybe they don't pay as much. And then the third one is what is the ease of access of, can you, can you reach out to them? You can email, you can call, call. You can run ads, startup founders are all over. So it's easy to reach out to them on social, on email, through ads, manufacturing, maybe you just have to cold call. So I typically do an ice score, which is rank each category by five. So you pick your ideal customer profile, which is now a hypothesis when you're starting out, right? It's like, it's like John, the startup CEO is Jim manufacturing, CEO, ideal customer profile that you're testing out.
2 (7m 21s):
And number of people, how big is the market? And for startups, CEO would rank five. And for manufacturing, I'd probably rank for just hypothesis here and then propensity to pay startup founders for and manufacturing is likely to, and then ease of access. The startup founder is five and manufacturing is, is likely to, and then I'll go and source leads and contacts for each of them. And try to reach out with our messaging because now we've known, we know who the ideal customer is. How do you define the messaging? What is the problem they face and how can you uniquely solve them and test that messaging out through emails, through calls and running very inexpensive ads. And at the end of it, you'll realize that it's resonating with one group more than the other.
2 (8m 4s):
And then you just double down on what's working. So that's a data-driven way of finding your ideal customer.
0 (8m 10s):
I love all of that specifically about how you broke that down to the five ranking systems. I mean, Fire Nation, you really need to have systems. If you are going to have success in every part of your business. And I love how you Lloyed put this in to this part of identifying the ideal customer and something else, you talk about a lot that I really enjoy our marketing channels. So share with us Fire Nation, how, how we can really identify the right marketing channels. So that then we can go ahead and acquire those ideal customers, those right customers, if you're a data-driven
2 (8m 42s):
About everything you do in the business, yes. There's the emotional side of it, which, which you need to consider. But if you're data-driven about everything, you have the goal, the goal is the data. How you break that goal down to today is also data. So when you identify channels, right, it's the same, it's the same concept. It's like, you, you, you make the assumption that you're running ads and it could be one channel you're sending emails that could be another channel. And a third one may be like your hosting events. And that's another channel or podcasts like John's doing his is another channel. Now you start testing them out and seeing, putting very little spend and saying what might work and then double down on what works.
2 (9m 26s):
But now how do you figure out those three or four channels to, to, to start testing money on? And I use the same concept. Let's say we, we, we put on podcasts, I'm going to start a podcast to generate sales. I'm going to send emails to generate sales. And I'm going to host events to generate sales. Now, if you'd rank that on the same 5, 5, 5, what is the impact of hosting? Each of them, maybe podcast is five and, and sending emails is five. Hosting events is five or, or whatever, four or five, they have pretty high impact things. What is the ease of doing them now hosting a podcast and bringing a following is very, very hard. So I would put like ease as one, sending emails is an ease of four or five.
2 (10m 9s):
And then hosting events is an ease of three. And, and what is then the last, last piece here is what is your confidence in those channels? So then you score out and you're like, okay, you know what? I'm going to test emails. First. I have my ideal customer profile. I've ranked it. I'm going to send them emails. And maybe as a secondary run, run some ads to retarget them. And I'm going to sit on this podcast stuff, because as a bootstrap founder, I don't have the brainpower to try it and make it successful. Anything you do, that's not done with cadence, doesn't become successful. And you know this better than anyone, John, I know
0 (10m 43s):
All about the kid, his brother, I know all about the consistency. If you can show up in deliver Fire Nation, you are going to win. And we have some political things going to be talking about. I want to really get into funding your business and specifically in ways that don't require giving up equity, something I've been able to do really cool. And also, you know, I will say, and this would be interesting for Lloyed to share some of his personal lessons and life failures and hardships and things that we can take away from that. And so much more when we get back from thanking our sponsors, knowing what factors are driving your business performance and growth is critical to your success until you know, what's working and what's not there isn't much you can do to scale your business or better serve your customers.
0 (11m 24s):
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0 (12m 5s):
It's time to say goodbye to siloed systems and hello, to powerful analytics and custom reporting available to your entire team on a United system. Learn more about how you can scale your company without scaling firstname.lastname@example.org. Recent data shows that of all the female owned businesses. It is estimated that one in three is owned by a mom ever wonder how these amazing moms and dads find time to hire for their businesses while juggling their families. They do it with zip recruiter. And right now you can try it for free at ziprecruiter.com/fire CEO and founder. Talia Goldstein is one such mompreneur besides being a mother of two, her personalized matchmaking company three day rule is constantly growing.
0 (12m 48s):
She needs to hire several matchmakers a month. So she uses zip recruiter. ZipRecruiter's powerful technology helps her find people with the right experience and actively invites them to apply. But Tolley is not the only employer who loves ZipRecruiter. In fact, four out of five employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate within the first day. And right now you can try ZipRecruiter for free, just visit ziprecruiter.com/fire. This special offer is available right now at ziprecruiter.com/fire ZipRecruiter, the smartest way to hire Lloyed we're back. And as we kind of share before the break, I want to talk about the best options to fund our business.
0 (13m 27s):
But specifically this is Fire Nation. We are entrepreneurs. We are bootstrappers talk to us about ones that don't require giving up equity. Definitely. So there's
2 (13m 35s):
A few ways you can do it. The best way is how I talked about in the last few points is get customers, get, keep and grow customers. You can, you know, there's all these things that you can build and you can make, and you can provide to them, but get customers. Then you can fill the orders right effectively. That's what I'm saying is like sell, have conviction in the problem you're solving for the customer. If you have conviction, then you can convince them, get them to pay. That's the first one customer money. The second one is there's all these incentives and grants like research and development tax credit is if you're developing new technology, improving existing technology in the us or Canada, you can get anywhere from 10% to 64% of that money as a cash back as an incentive to fund your business.
2 (14m 20s):
Once you have customer money and you have things like research and development tax credits, you can make your business more bankable and you can leverage things like bank debt, and M and a venture debt and things like that, right? Like, so debt there's different debt debt options, where you pay low percentages and you can fund your business because raising equity financing is a hard process, right? You, you go through this massive sales process of trying to convince investors and it may work out. It may not work out, but like leveraging sources like government funding, like customer monies. I think I say, everything started with the customer, give the customer to pay you.
2 (15m 0s):
Then leverage government incentives, then leverage bank debt. And then at the end, when you've hit a certain path, then get venture capital. If the thing with venture capital is this. If you put $1 in equity capital, and you can squeeze out three or $4, then it makes sense. But if you don't have a path to turn one into three or four, then it's very hard because you'll, you'll take this equity mem money and you'll have board members and it's going to be difficult conversations because you've not nailed something. So my, my concept here is nail it. Before you scale it use the venture dollars to scale your money, use the equity dollars to scale scale your product or your company that you've nailed.
2 (15m 43s):
But before then leverage customer money, leverage grants, leverage your own sort of sweat equity and leverage bank debt to get to where you need to point a scale and then raise the equity dollars.
0 (15m 55s):
Nail it before you scale it. Fire Nation. I hope you're taking notes on this stuff. This is from somebody who's been there, done that, and let's move into a little bit of a different area right now. Lloyed, I want to talk about some personal lessons from your specific life failures and the hardships, including almost dying from COVID. Definitely.
2 (16m 15s):
That was, it was a hard one. So we bootstrapped boast for a very long time. And oftentimes we didn't take money from the company there. We do an annual offsite where we take the whole company on trips like Cabo, Costa Rica, Hawaii. And we do a conference which the funds get donated into the community. It's called traction. And there were times where my co-founder Alex and I took no money from the company. And we still did those things. We still made those commitments to take people on trips and off sites. So things have been extremely, extremely hard. And one of the hardest things I think that I faced quite recently, there were two instances. There was one instance where it was a time in the company's life, where I felt I needed to get a job.
2 (17m 1s):
And I went and worked at a Silicon valley tech company. The learnings have been invaluable because you don't, you take failure as a learning. So the fact that I had to go and get a job so I could pay myself, was a learning. And I learned from it and became stronger and became a more competent founder. And the second was, and probably the second is the most important learning as entrepreneurs. We're so focused on the hustle and the business that we forget to stop and smell the roses. So last year, after bootstrapping to over eight figures in revenue, we were faced with this equity option for us, from some really good investors that we admired that would change the trajectory of the company.
2 (17m 43s):
And it made sense because we could turn one into four or five. And so we took the money and you know, when you're raising equity money, it's a very stressful process because there's a lot of due diligence that goes into it. It becomes a full-time job. And I told my wife and kids is that we'll celebrate when, when that fundraisers over. And that fundraise was announced December 10th and shortly thereafter, I got COVID and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My wife's an ER physician, and you know, so she's exposed, but my whole family got COVID and everything was fine. You know, the celebrations pause, but January 2nd or so I ended up in the hospital.
2 (18m 25s):
My oxygen levels were dropping. I was unable to breathe. They, they tested me and I had bilateral COVID pneumonia. Both my lungs were shot. And I had to put, get put on the oxygen and meds Viv. And I was there for awhile. And my wife, despite being a doctor, couldn't get in, get in the hospital room. So they had set up a zoom and I realized to myself and I cried a lot. And I said, man, if I can go back in time, I would just spend more time with my kids. It's not the money in the bank. It's the people around your tombstone that matter. I just don't want to go like this alone in the hospital. There were two nights where I felt like I was going to die. It was unable to breathe.
2 (19m 5s):
And I just, you know, I made a pack that I'm going to come back and spend more time with a family, spend dedicated time and start to fill out everything I do as an entrepreneur. That's not needed and delegate it out so I can focus. And so as, as founders, I think what we, what we don't do well is we don't stop to smell the roses. We're just go, go, go all the time. And it's important to enjoy life a little bit every day and appreciate things a little bit more every day, because just doing a little more everyday compounds and it becomes a big thing versus you try to do it all at once and it may or may not work out. There's more people that die of indigestion than starvation. So don't try to conquer the world at once.
2 (19m 46s):
Just get a little, little better every day, whether that's appreciation at home or, or work or at work. Just appreciate a little more smell the roses a little more every day. And, and you're, you'll have a great life.
0 (20m 0s):
I mean, talk about putting things in perspective. I just want to first off, thank you, Lori, for just being so open and vulnerable and like painting that picture. I mean, of being alone, you know, thinking that you might literally be leaving this world and what that was going to mean. I mean, I hope Fire Nation. You realize what is important. Yes. It's important to work hard on things that you love and to have financial freedom and fulfillment, but you know, hopefully that fulfillment involves people you love every single day. So let's end Lloyed with a bang. Talk to us about building and inspiring a team for high performance. So I think one of the most
2 (20m 34s):
Important things to build and inspire a team for high performance is this. You need to hire smart people and get out of their way. You hire people. So they tell you what to do and not the other way, be a leader. The job of a leader is to build inspire, helping them understand what the mission and vision is and giving them the metrics at the same time, giving them the autonomy to execute, make sure you have the objectives and key results in place. Give them the mission, the metrics and the values, the mission, and the vision is important because they know where you're going. Longterm. The metrics are important because then they can measure.
2 (21m 14s):
They know what they need to stay on top of day over day to hit that. And the value is very important because you can go anywhere in life. But what if you don't want to break 10 things, you don't want to hurt 10 people. You don't want to step on toes, right? So the values, your core values as a company is important. Like it may be empathy. It may be, we all grow together as a team. It may be, don't do evil in the world. But if you give, hire smart people who tell, who you want to learn from and tell, they tell you what to do and get out of their way, then give them the mission, the vision, the metrics, and the values, and then step out of the way, be an input, not an approver. And there's a big difference there. If you're an approver, you become a blocker.
2 (21m 55s):
And I've been a victim to that. If you're, if you're an approver, you are and you, the more you say, I want to approve things, the bigger the blocker you become and more you hold back on the progress of your company. The other thing I would say is hire for trajectory versus experience. There are some people who may not have the experience, but they have the passion and the conviction for their craft and people with immense passion and conviction can move mountains,
0 (22m 21s):
Super value here, Fire Nation, hire smart people, and then get out of the way. I just love that bluntness. And I love that vision too, because we just get in our own way so often and hire for trajectory, not experience. That's also a great takeaway in Lloyed. You've dropped so many value bombs here today. What is the one thing that you really want to make sure Fire Nation gets from our entire conversation here today? How can we connect with you and your team and learn more, any call to action you might have for us then we'll say
2 (22m 52s):
Definitely. So what boast AI does? We automate access to government incentives and research and development tax credits. If you're developing new technology or improving existing technology, you can get lots of money back hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars from the government. It's a cumbersome process. It takes a long time to get the money and it's prone to expensive audits and we streamlined and automate that process. So you can get more money faster for less time and risk. Just go to my company, boast.ai, B O S t.ai for slash fire and sign up. And we'll give you a discount. boast.ai/fire.
0 (23m 28s):
That's for you Fire Nation. That is for you. And you know, this Fire Nation. You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with LB and JLD today. So keep up that heat and head over to EOFire.com type Lloyed that's Lloyed with two L's, L L O Y E D in the search bar. His show shows page will pop up. And this is everything that we talked about here today. Fire Nation, best show notes in the biz Lloyed, thank you brother, for sharing your time, your value, your fire with Fire Nation today, for that we salute and we'll catch you on the flip side.
2 (24m 7s):
Thank you so much, John. It was a pleasure. Hey,
0 (24m 10s):
Nation today's value bomb. Content was brought to you by Lloyed ends. If you ever thought about creating a podcast of your own while the podcast journal is for you, it's gorgeous. It's full leather, and it will guide you. Step-by-step in the creation and launch of your podcast and 50 days five zero. Visit the podcast journal.com use promo code podcast free $15 discount as a thank you for listening to my podcast, the podcast journal.com and I'll catch you there, or I'll catch you on the flip side. Hiring can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but when you post a job on zip recruiter, their matching technology finds these qualified candidates for you and invites them to apply.
0 (24m 51s):
So while other companies give you too many options, ZipRecruiter finds you the needle in the haystack. And right now you can try ZipRecruiter for free at ziprecruiter.com/fire. The HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business. Whether you're looking for marketing sales, service, or operational guidance, the HubSpot Podcast Network hosts have your back, listen, learn and grow with the HubSpot Podcast Network at hubspot.com/podcastnetwork.
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