Hey everyone, in this episode, I share the mic with Landon Ray, founder and CEO of ONTRAPORT, which is an award winning, all-in-one business and marketing automation platform that removes the burden of technology for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Listen as we discuss how he went from day trader to entrepreneur, why losing one business resulted in building a new, better business, how he took ONTRAPORT from a dozen customers to 1,000 customers in just 2 months with a $0 marketing budget, and why having a great product is still the best customer acquisition plan.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
- 00:58 – Eric introduces Landon to the show
- 01:18 – Who Landon is and what ONTRAPORT is about
- 01:57 – Landon was able to create a seamless process for his business
- 02:08 – Having tools all over the place, Landon turned them into a business in 2008
- 02:48 – “We help people overcome the burden of technology”
- 03:45 – In 2004, Landon started PageOne
- 04:32 – “We created a very early SEO company for realtors”
- 04:59 – The inevitable occurred – Google started to get better at filtering sites
- 06:26 – The ultimate thing was, PageOne wasn’t a scalable model
- 06:52 – Landon just woke up one morning knowing PageOne will lose to Google
- 07:36 – How Landon felt shutting the business down
- 08:48 – How ONTRAPORT generates revenues
- 08:50 – Monthly fees for platform access
- 08:54 – How the pricing looks
- 08:58 – Starts free with free a landing page tool on ONTRApages
- 09:15 – Premium service at $15/month
- 09:18 – Marketing automation and CRM platform at $79/month
- 09:30 – Robust platform is at $297/month
- 09:52 – Acquiring the first hundred customers through networking in conferences
- 10:55 – About 6,000 customers on ONTRAPORT
- 11:44 – Landon started making friends at conferences to market ONTRAPORT
- 12:43 – Building relationships with customers
- 13:00 – Creating an offer people cannot refuse
- 13:57 – The most effective consumer acquisition plan
- 15:52 – 75% are coming from word of mouth
- 16:08 – Content marketing also works for ONTRAPORT
- 16:38 – When you’re struggling, you just need to make one small tweak
- 16:54 – What ONTRAPALOOZA is
- 17:01 – A time for customers & entrepreneurs to learn about marketing
- 18:19 – Many of Landon’s clients are ‘underground rock stars’
- 19:09 – How ONTRApalooza helped ONTRAPORT
- 19:26 – It helped create the culture around the company
- 20:45 – It gets customers
- 21:08 – Landon is not in charge of ONTRApalooza
- 21:26 – Hosting events is a good idea for most founders
- 22:16 – Forget about event planners
- 22:18 – Create an event team instead
- 23:27 – Landon, from a day trader to an entrepreneur
- 25:04 – What is one big struggle you’ve faced while growing ONTRAPORT? It was all a struggle! It’s all really hard but ONE is growing a 7-figure business by bootstrapping
- 29:02 – What is the difference between a 7 and 8 figure business? The team. An 8-figure business has more people and as a founder, it’s a dramatically different life and job. It’s more about leadership than execution
- 30:51 – How did you learn to let go and delegate things? It’s hard, but get traction before you get an operations person. As soon as you got traction, you should be out there looking for an operations-oriented person
- 32:33 – What one piece of advice would you give your 25-year old self? Travel and see the world
- 33:36 – What’s one must-read book you recommend for everyone? The E-Myth
- 35:44 – Connect with Landon on his website
3 Key Points:
- Inevitable things happen in businesses so be prepared.
- Hosting events can help businesses in different ways.
- When you bootstrap a business, you get away from the unnecessary spending.
Resources From This Interview:
- Marketing School with Neil Patel & Eric Siu
- Must-read books:
- The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
- Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith
- The Irresistible Offer: How to Sell Your Product or Service in 3 Seconds or Less by Mark Joyner
- Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition by Jay Abraham
- Landon on LinkedIn
- ONTRAPORT Community
Leave Some Feedback:
- What should I talk about next? Who should I interview? Please let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
- Did you enjoy this episode? If so, leave a short review here.
- Subscribe to Growth Everywhere on iTunes.
- Get the non-iTunes RSS feed
Connect with Eric Siu:
Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.
Full Transcript of The Episode
Announcer: Do you want to impact the world and still turn a profit? Then you're in the right place. Welcome to Growth Everywhere. This is the show where you'll find real conversations with real entrepreneurs. They'll share everything from their biggest struggle to the exact strategies they use on a daily basis. If you're ready for a value-packed interview, listen on. Here's your host, Eric Siu.
Eric: Before we jump into today's interview, if you guys could leave a review and a rating, and also subscribe as well, that would be a huge help to the podcast. If you actually enjoyed the content and you'd like to hear more of it, please support us by leaving a review and subscribe to the podcast as well. Thanks so much.
Okay, everyone, I've got a special guest for you today. His name is Landon Ray of ONTRAPORT, which is an all-in-one business and marketing automation platform that removes the burden of technology for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Landon, how's it going?
Landon: It's going good, Eric. Thanks for having me.
Eric: Yeah, thanks for being here. Why don't you tell us about who you are and what you do?
Landon: Who I am? Well, I'm Landon Ray and I'm the founder of ONTRAPORT. ONTRAPORT is a 10-year-old software-as-a-service platform that we actually started originally because we needed these tools ourselves in this other business that I started. Eventually, we realized that other businesses needed these things too.
The way it started was that we had to do all that marketing; we had to lead, capture, and follow up; we needed to integrate our sales team into the process; we needed to be able to track which ones of our ads were working and which ones weren't. We had all these little tools and data all over the place, and we weren't able to create a seamless process and understand what was working and what wasn't in our business. What we realized was that having disparate tools all over the place; something for your website, and another place to capture emails and send emails, and another place to store your lead and prospect data, and another place for your sales people to deal with their stuff, and another place for payments to happen, and on and on ... It just wasn't working for a real business.
Since then, we've turned that into a product. In about 2008/2009, we really began to take off and have been providing our service to now thousands and thousands of businesses all over the world since then. We basically help people overcome this nightmarish burden of technology. We noticed that most entrepreneurs don't get into business because they love dealing with technology. I know that you just mentioned before we started here that a lot of your listeners are tech entrepreneurs, so what I'm saying is that most entrepreneurs aren't like you. Really, technology occurs to them as
Landon Ray Page 2 of 11
this giant hassle, and a burden, and really something that stops them more often than it enables them. Our vision and mission is about removing that so that entrepreneurs can really focus on what they do best.
Eric: That's great. Something that you touched upon I think is really interesting. A lot of people, especially people in the service-based industries, are really looking to go into software and things like that. I guess a question for you would be, what businesses were running before ONTRAPORT, and when did you decide that it was the right time to get out of the old business?
Landon: Man, now you're going way back. In 2004, I started this other business called PageOne. In 2004, we were in a different world, a time when real estate in America was exploding ... actually, all over the world, in value. Everybody and their brother was getting a real estate license. I think the number of realtors in America went from a million to 4 million in the space of a couple of years in that period of time. At the same time, Google was really coming into prominence. Everybody knew that you could Google something already, but they didn't understand, or they were just beginning to understand, the value of having your business show up at the top of those search rankings, and that there was a methodology to make that happen. Basically what we did is we created a very early SEO company that was working specifically for realtors. We had an interesting model, where we would actually make websites. We made 1,000 websites for cities all over America, and we got them ranked first, and then we went out to the realtors and basically rented those websites, once they got ranked, to the realtors.
It was an interesting business model, and it was working, but then basically the inevitable occurred, which was that Google continued to get better at filtering out guys like us. It didn't all come crumbling down, but I could kind of see the writing on the wall. After a couple years, it got harder and harder to get those websites ranked, and I realized that we were probably not the kind of websites that Google really ultimately wanted at the top of their rankings, and that they would probably end up winning that battle. I felt like our days were numbered. In the meantime, we'd built all these amazing internal tools, so at that point, we pivoted and started focusing on turning those internal tools into a product that eventually become ONTRAPORT.
Eric: Got it, so at what point do you look at the numbers and you say, "Okay, this, this thing's trending in the right direction. We can kind of jettison the old business and go full time on it." What number did you have to hit? What was that in your mind?
Landon: Well, I got to be honest. If you're talking about financially, I had a unique advantage and that was this was my second career. I had had a pretty successful first career as a trader on Wall Street, and had amassed a small fortune that I was using to fund this whole thing. Revenue wasn't really ... I think we were probably doing $20,000 a month when I canned that other business, or $25,000 a month, something like that. It was real money, but the ultimate thing was that it wasn't a scalable model. That business wasn't going to work, and I was at a place in my life where I wasn't going to spend any time on something that wasn't going to work.
Landon Ray Page 3 of 11
Eric: Okay, so you saw the writing on the wall with the other business, and then you saw the growth rates trending in the right direction for ONTRAPORT, and you just felt right about it, and that's why you made the move, right?
Landon: Actually, not quite. I actually just literally, out of the blue, canned PageOne one day. I woke up one morning and was like, "You know what? We're gonna lose to Google, and uh, and so I'm not spending any more time on this." I actually just fired basically everybody in the business except for our two engineers, who are still with me. They're our CTO and our chief principal architect today. Actually, one customer service person ... I didn't just shut down the business. We stopped selling the product, but for our existing customers, I had one person supporting them. Yeah, so we basically spent the next two years without a product to sell. We spent a lot of time building this thing.
Eric: Before we walk through ONTRAPORT as a business, can you just tell me how you felt having to let go of everyone, and then just the next two years not having anything to sell? How did that make you feel?
Landon: To be totally honest, if I had to let go of people today, that would be incredibly heartbreaking because we've created something that's totally different than what PageOne was. We have a real culture here and environment where people care about each other, and I feel a commitment to the people on my team. At that time, the way that business was organized, we were basically doing a lot of cold-calling, and it wasn't a terribly family-oriented environment. They didn't feel any sort of commitment to me, and I didn't feel a lot of commitment to them, either. I think that was everybody was ... it was fine. I wasn't breaking anybody's heart shutting that thing down, including my own. In terms of the financial aspect, it wasn't like I was making money before. $25,000 ... we had a bunch of employees. I wasn't making money, so I wasn't making money before we stopped that business, and I wasn't making money after we stopped the business. It was just more time of not making money, I guess.
Eric: Got it. Okay, great. Let's jump into ONTRAPORT for a little bit. How do you guys make money, exactly?
Landon: We charge a monthly fee for access to our platform.
Eric: What does the pricing look like?
Landon: We have all sorts of different levels. It actually starts at free. We have a free landing page tool. You can create your own landing pages and host them on the internet at no charge. That's at ontrapages.com, O-N-T-R-A-P-A-G-E-S dot com. Then you can sign up for a premium version of that service for 15 bucks a month. Then when you want to add our marketing automation and CRM platform, so you can upgrade from there, that begins at $79 a month for most of the features but not all. The robust platform that we built, that is the backbone of this whole business, is $297 a month.
Eric: Got it, so it sounds like small businesses that are just starting out can get their feet wet a little bit, and then when they're ready to play in the big leagues, they can go up to the
Landon Ray Page 4 of 11
Landon: That's right.
Eric: Perfect, okay. Early days, how did you go about acquiring, let's just say, first hundred customers?
Landon: This business literally from the very beginning was built on word-of-mouth. Until about a year ago, not even quite a year ago, we had pretty much a $0 marketing budget. How we got those first customers was me going to marketing conferences and networking, basically, and meeting people. Then I made some key early partnerships with people that got us our first few hundred customers, and then the word just started to spread. Honestly, it happened very fast at the beginning. I think that you've heard that we struggled for a long time, but then when it finally worked, it worked pretty fast. We went from maybe a couple dozen customers to a thousand customers over the space of a month or two.
Eric: Great, and how many customers do you have today?
Landon: Well, thousands of ONTRAPORT customers. Maybe 6,000, ballpark. I don't actually keep up with it on a day-to-day basis, but somewhere shy of 10,000 ONTRAPORT customers. Over 5, under 10. Also, the ONTRApages app that I just mentioned, we just launched that not even a year ago. It was in October of last year, and I think we're maybe at 12 or 13,000 customers on there.
Eric: Wow, okay. Just to clarify. I might've missed this. Is ONTRApages a tool that helps you make landing pages quickly?
Landon: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: Got it. Okay, cool. Yeah, that's great. You talked about networking for a second. I think a lot of people, people listening to this too, when you talk about networking, I think people oftentimes make the mistake of not being really deliberate about how they do it. What did you do exactly when you went to these conferences? Were you targeting people specifically? What were you doing exactly to get these contacts?
Landon: I think mostly I would say I started by making friends. Mostly listening, actually, not being shy. If your audience is tech entrepreneurs, we may be a bunch of introverts. I certainly fit into that category, but I've forced myself to just walk up to people. I got to marketing conferences, and also I wasn't just going to the marketing conferences to network. I was going to learn. I needed to learn marketing. Every person I sat down next to, I would introduce myself and ask them about their business. Every time there was a break, I would grab a cup of coffee and then just start walking up to people.
I just nurtured relationships, and when I found people that maybe had something to teach me, or had relationships with customers that might be good for me in the future, I nurtured those a little more. I stayed in touch. I told them what we were up to. I gave
Landon Ray Page 5 of 11
them free access to our platform. A lot of it, early on in those partnerships, was about creating an offer that they couldn't refuse, so I really focused on making sure that I was giving something that was an easy yes for those partners.
Eric: Love it. Okay, and how many conferences do you think you were attending in the early days, per year?
Landon: Oh, my god. First of all, it wasn't just the first year. It was four years. I started attending conferences in 2004, and I finally weaned myself off of them probably in 2011, or '12, or so. Now I still go to one or two. I prefer not to anymore. I've got people that we send to conferences now, but yeah, it was years and years of lots of conferences. I don't even know how many, but certainly I was traveling every month, and maybe more than once a month, somewhere to go to a conference.
Eric: Okay, great. That just gives people an idea of how much work actually goes into this "networking thing". What's working for you nowadays in terms of customer acquisition? What's super-effective?
Landon: First of all, the most effective thing remains word-of-mouth. 75% of our customers are just coming to us because they heard about us from a friend. Having a great product is the most effective customer acquisition plan. Beyond that, getting the word out. Our freemium product is working really well, like I said. With a pretty minimal ad budget, we've added 12,000, or 13 ... I don't know what the numbers are right now, but we add a lot of customers every single day to that ONTRApages platform. Obviously, a lot of those aren't prospects, but many of them area. One of the things that we learned, early on actually, what finally helped us turn a corner was that we have this more expensive product. We started with a $300 product, and we struggled along there for a while. IT wasn't until we launched a $30 product that we really took off.
The plan was that we would have this $30 product, and that people would get a taste, and then they would upgrade. That happened a little bit, but not nearly as much as something surprising that happened. What it was was that people got the $30 product that they liked, and they actually weren't qualified for the $300 product. They didn't have a business yet. They didn't have products yet, really. They couldn't support a $300 bill every month, but they liked what we were doing. They liked us as an organization, and they told their friends. It really kicked off the word-of-mouth. Other people started just showing up for our flagship product because of the large number of people we were getting on this low-end product.
I think that that's happening again for us with this freemium product. Some of them definitely are upgrading, and that's working, but also it's just generating a lot of good word-of-mouth for the ONTRAPORT brand. I say 75% of people are coming via word-of-mouth. I don't know how many of those people were told, "Check out ONTRAPORT," by ONTRApages customers, for example. We have a strong sense that that's a good thing for us. The other thing that's really working for us is content marketing. We've battled through that for a long time, and have finally figured out how to make that work for us. It's a tough gig, but once it's working, it can be really good.
Landon Ray Page 6 of 11
Eric: Yeah. You know what's interesting? I actually heard of you guys word-of-mouth. A lot of people probably think, "Oh, word-of-mouth. How are you ever supposed to scale that?" but the thing is, that's exactly how I heard of you guys. It's not through online marketing or whatever. Somebody just told me about it. I think the other key point that you're mentioning is, oftentimes when you think you're struggling, when you are struggling, you just need to make one small tweak and then boom. A big change happens, which is exactly what happened to you guys, which is great. I guess next question would be ONTRApalooza. Crazy name. What is that and tell us about it?
Landon: It's our annual users conference. This'll be our fifth year, I think, and it's just a time for customers and entrepreneurs ... it's typically about 50/50. About half the people that come to ONTRApalooza are our customers, and the other half are just entrepreneurs that want to learn about marketing and growth of their businesses. I would say two-thirds of the content is not ONTRAPORT-platform related. You can go to ontrapalooza.com and see the speaker lineup. We have a ridiculous lineup this year. Sophia Amoruso, Neil Patel, Ryan Deiss, and a whole bunch more. I'm sure I'm forgetting some major names. The couple over at Basic Bananas, Franziska and Christo, are going to be back. Oh, Dale Beaumont is going to be there. We just got him onboard. I can't remember all the names right now, but if these names aren't ringing a bell, you're probably not going to enough conferences because these are major names in our industry, and they good ... Oh, man, one of the co-founders of Netflix is going to show up and talk.
Yeah, we bring a bunch of big-name speakers out. We have some of our clients. One of the unique things about having a business in marketing technology is that many of our clients are underground rock stars. They're not in the business of teaching people how to do marketing or whatever, so they're not out speaking about it normally, but they're crushing it in their industries. We have access to these people that you sometimes otherwise wouldn't have heard of, and so we'll get some of our really successful clients coming out at talking. Then, like I said, about a third of the content is designed for our customers to really make the most out of this very robust platform that we built.
Eric: Awesome, that sounds good. If you guys want to preview who exactly Neil Patel is, you can also listen to my podcast with him, Marketing School. You guys can Google that. One of my questions would also be, doing live events and things like that, obviously big undertaking, what has that done for your business?
Landon: Yeah, it's an interesting question that we review every single year, to be totally honest. I think it's done a number of different things. This is honestly the number one thing. It's really helped us create the ONTRAPORT culture around our company, so not just our internal culture. We can do that without an event, but if you come around the ONTRAPORT community, you'll notice that there's a certain culture around our company. We have a whole lot of really raving fans, and people that have been with us for years and years and years, and that feel like part of this project that we're building together. That's on-purpose and really a big part of what makes this fun.
Landon Ray Page 7 of 11
ONTRApalooza, being able to meet these people in person, and sit down with them and talk to them, and hear about their business, and put a face to a name ... I'm pretty active in our Facebook group, but that little picture next to your name, I don't always look at. You can't really see people so much, but I know a lot of our customers by name, and to be able to put faces and names, it's just really valuable. A lot of people come every single year, and so the cultural aspect is a really big piece of it. Another thing is that it gets us customers. It gets us a lot of press, create a lot of content. We film the whole thing, and we come out of that with tons and tons of great content. It's not a money-maker. We break even on it every year.
Eric: Let's just say somebody in the audience is interested in doing a live event. What's one hire or one thing they need to do to make it all work?
Landon: Oh, man. I got to be honest, I'm not in charge of ONTRApalooza. Our president, Lena Requist, it is completely 100% her baby. I do what I'm told. I show up and I write two speeches each year, and I show up when I'm supposed to. I would say that in general, that would be a good idea for most founders. I think that if my experience is any guide, most founders are more visionary product people, and I've been lucky/smart enough to get Lena Requist on board early on in our business. As soon as we got traction, I started looking for a chief operating officer and president. She largely runs the show, and she's an operations expert. She understands how to make the trains move, and an event is a big can of worms around organization and operations. If that's not your thing, don't even try.
The other thing is I would say just hot tip, forget about event planners. That's a way to make your event cost 4, or 5, or 10 times more than it needs to. We have an internal events team, which is literally two people. They cost, alone, about as much as an event planner would cost ... because they care about our budget, they make ONTRApalooza happen for literally probably a quarter of the cost, of what it would cost if we just outsourced the whole thing. I'm not saying ONTRApalooza is cheaply produced. It's amazing. It is, for sure, the best show of the year in terms of production value. They put on an amazing show that would cost multiple times more if we outsourced the production of it.
Eric: Wow, super-helpful nugget because if you didn't say that, afterwards I would've been like, "Oh, I probably need a event planner if I wanted to do anything like that," so thanks for helping people save 4-5x.
Eric: Talk about going from, you mentioned you were a day trader. How do you go from day trader to an entrepreneur? What caused that decision when you were making a lot of money and, assuming, you were having a great time, too.
Landon: Yeah, actually most of those assumptions are incorrect. I didn't love day trading. I loved making a lot of money. That was cool, but I didn't love day trading. It's maybe the highest-stress, most internally-grueling job that I could ever imagine. I'm sure there's
Landon Ray Page 8 of 11
other ones that are awful, but it's really emotionally taxing. The other thing was that by the time I quit day trading, I wasn't making a lot of money. I had made a lot of money from like '96 to about 2001, and then the market changed in various ways, and basically our industry, the style of trading that we were doing, pretty much stopped working. I went from making a whole lot of money to making 150 grand in 2001 or something like that. For the amount of pain that I was going through, 150 grand wasn't worth it.
In late 2001, I quit trading and I actually took a few years off. I bought a piece of property here in Santa Barbara and I built a house on it, and had a kid. It wasn't until 2004 that I decided it was time to figure out my next act. I just started looking. It took a while. It took about a year to look for something that looked like an opportunity that was worth investing my time in, and PageOne turned out to be it.
Eric: Love it. Okay, so talk about one big struggle you faced while growing ONTRAPORT.
Landon: One. Okay! Let me just start by saying, it's all a struggle. There's a thousand, and that's what entrepreneurship is. My life is pretty much about problem-solving all day long. It's all really hard, if you hadn't noticed. If you were to name one that's unique-ish to our experience, it's that we've grown a significant, 6, 7, 8-figure business without investment capital, really. We've taken a little bit of money early on, but basically we bootstrapped this business. To get to this scale as a bootstrapped business has meant that we've done it really lean, and that we've never had a bunch of money to spend on anything that wasn't absolutely necessary. We've also never had a big cushion in case things kind of went wrong, until more recently. That challenge has limited our options in a lot of ways.
I think also, though, that's been a good and bad thing. On the one had, you could argue that our biggest competitor, Infusionsoft, has benefited by having raised whatever it's been, $130 million. They're a bigger business than us today, that's true, but I also think on the other hand, us having to focus on staying profitable throughout our life has had us create a much stronger foundation. For sure, a company like Infusionsoft, and like many companies that take a bunch of money and by growth, they lose a lot of money every month. They make a lot of decisions that are short-term-oriented decisions, that are forced on them from the pressure that comes with having investors. An advantage to us is that we've got a very solid foundation. To this day, we're a profitable business, and there's just very few businesses like ours that have that kind of solid foundation. We've never been forced to make short-term decisions that undermine our long-term viability. Instead we've, from the very beginning, been able to take the long view on everything, and really invest in our platform in ways that I am sure that our competitors wish they had the luxury to do.
Eric: I love that. You see everywhere all over the web right now ... Well, first of all, the funding atmosphere is drying up a little bit, and what was good a couple years ago, everyone can get funding, I think the dream of everyone going for that unicorn valuation just isn't realistic anymore. I think how you guys did it, you basically bootstrapped and aimed for profitability, I think that's something that's very admirable, and more people should be doing so. I think that's great.
Landon Ray Page 9 of 11
Landon: Let me just add to it, just as a founder, since I'm speaking to founders, I'll just say that there's an advantage, which is that I also still control this business. I own a lot of it, and yeah, it's not worth as much as a company 10 times the size, but I probably have 10 times more than you're going to have if you go down that road. I'm not sure it's a worse scenario.
Eric: Totally makes sense. I think one other key thing to talk about. You guys went from, let's just say, doing seven figures, a million a year, and then having a 10-million-a-year business. For simplicity's sake, let's just use those numbers. What is the difference between having a seven and eight-figure-a-year business?
Landon: Well, it's the team. A seven figure business is, I don't know. Ten people? Seven people? An eight figure business is 100 people or more. That, as a founder, is a dramatically different life and a dramatically different job. When you're seven people, you can still manage everything. You can answer every question. You can drive every project, and you're still doing, personally, a large portion of the work that's getting done in your business. We're maybe 120 now? At this point, way more goes on in my business that I don't know about, than what I do know about. Maybe I'm responsible for 1% of the work that happens in this business, and when that's the case, your job is different. It's way more about setting the vision, getting the right people on the team, creating clarity around the goals, and making sure that the teams are focused on a high level on the most important aspects of your projects right now. It's more about leadership than it is about execution. Early on, it's just about chipping, getting stuff done, and literally physically moving the ball forward yourself. That's a completely different life as you make that kind of transition.
Eric: For a lot of people, going up to seven figures, you have a lot of control. You're executing as the founder. How did you learn to delegate and let go of things?
Landon: Well, that's hard. I think, again, if we're talking to founders, and particularly tech founders, here, I'm a product guy. I design the product. I still lead the product team here, and this whole thing, not just the product, but the whole experience around ONTRAPORT. It's my baby, and I want it to be good. Letting go is hard. To be honest, I would say that it was more ripped out of my hands than it was letting go, just by the scale of the thing. At some point, and the point is around 7 or 12 people, you just can't manage it all anymore. You either delegate, or stuff starts falling apart. I think that the smartest thing you can do as a visionary founder is to get traction. Don't get an operations person before you have traction, because good operations people are not wasting their time screwing around with startups that are wobbling around. Good operations people are getting into real, serious opportunities, and that only happens after you've got real traction.
As soon as you've got real traction, as soon as you can say legitimately, "Look, this thing's happening," then you should be out there looking for a COO or a president that is an operations-oriented person. Lena came in and immediately just started taking things off my plate. That was it.
Landon Ray Page 10 of 11
Eric: Well said. What's one piece of advice you'd give to your 25-year-old self?
Landon: I would say, and I don't know if this is what your crowd wants to hear, but this is a personal thing. If it was me, my 25-year-old self, I probably would advise myself to ... I don't know, man. That's a tough question. I did pretty good. When I was 25, I moved to Wall Street and made several million dollars. I think I did okay, but it would've been nice if I could've spent another five years traveling and seeing the world. Now, since I was 25, I'm 44 now, so I spent the last 20 years looking at computer screens. I think putting that off as long as you can is probably wise, in terms of your overall arc of your life.
Eric: Great. No, that's good. I don't think there's any expected answer for that, so I think that's good feedback. What's one must-read book you'd recommend to everyone?
Landon: Oh, crap. A must-read book. Holy smokes. I'm just looking at a wall of books. First of all, I would just say, read books. I'm in my office right now probably surrounded by, I don't know, 1,000 books? Most of which I've read. Especially earlier in your career, you should be devouring perspective from anywhere you can get it. Books are the cheapest, best way to get perspective from top-tier people. Must read? There's so many. The E-Myth is kind of like a foundational book. It's weird. It's simple now, but if you haven't read that book, that's a concept that you need to have. I think you should be reading sales books. That's a big thing too, and there's so many great sales books. Selling the Invisible. I'm just looking at my sales area. Selling the Invisible; The Irresistible Offer; Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You've Got, Jay Abraham's good book.
Yeah, I would say, especially if we're talking to founders, technical founders in particular, product people in general, focus on sales. Too often we obsess about our products and believe our own bullshit too much. We think that everybody does or should think the way we think, and then we spend a bunch of time creating something, and go out and get a cold splash of water dumped in our face. Learning sales is a lot about learning to listen, and learning to get into other people's perspectives, and learning to create offers that resonate. That's a crucial skill, particularly for founders.
Eric: Love it. Those books are all great. We'll drop them all in the show notes. Landon, this has been fantastic. What's the best way for people to find you online?
Landon: Well, the only way to find me online is in our ONTRAPORT user community. It's the only public place, unless you want to see pictures of my kid on Instagram. That's where you find me.
Eric: Awesome. Everyone, make sure you check out ONTRAPORT. It's great. They freakin' have a free version, and I think you could dip your feet or your toes. If you don't have any kind of automation setup yet, definitely recommend checking it out. I've heard great things about it. Landon, thanks so much for doing this.
Landon: Eric, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for taking the time.
Landon Ray Page 11 of 11
Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Growth Everywhere. If you loved what you heard, be sure to head back to growtheverywhere.com for today's show notes and a ton of additional resources. Before you go, hit the Subscribe button to avoid missing out on next week's value-packed interview. Enjoy the rest of your week, and remember to take action, and continue growing.