Origins #52 - Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd to Grow a Business

As someone who is just starting and new to the world of entrepreneurship, I realize I have a lot of gaps in my knowledge. Building a business consists puts you in a humbling situation where all your shortcomings become apparent.

Fortunately, there is plenty of knowledge available for free. You just need to know where to find it. Because there is an abundance of resources, it can be overwhelming at first. Where do you start? A simple Google search will return thousands of results, hundreds of pages of articles, podcasts, books, videos, etc. How do you balance running your business with the need to learn new skills?

I realize that more people in my situation might have the same issue, so I collected a list of resources and people that I found very helpful over the past couple of months. This is going to be relevant mostly for those interested in e-commerce, conversion funnels, and growth marketing tactics.

There are five main sources I will cover:

  • Podcasts
  • Facebook groups
  • Blogs
  • Consultants and agencies
  • Other communities — Medium, Indie Hackers

Podcasts are a great way to get a lot of information quickly and in a very convenient format. Audio simply gets out of the way and you can listen to episodes while commuting, training, or even in the background while going through some mundane tasks.

I have been an avid podcast listener for years. Over the last few months, I have been actively searching for podcasts on topics around marketing, branding, e-commerce, Shopify, Facebook advertising, SEO, email marketing, and funnels.

A podcast for me is the perfect way to dive deep into a subject. Here is a list of the podcasts I have been listening to regularly:

Very tactical:

  • Shopify Masters — Interviews with Shopify store owners who share how they started their businesses, developed products and marketed them
  • The Unofficial Shopify Podcast — Similar to the one above, but I found it more practical and focussed on the topic of marketing and growth. The host, Kurt Elster, has a lot of experience in the industry and invites guests who are able to describe marketing tactics in detail. There are a couple of episodes dedicated to Facebook Ads that I highly recommend you check out!
  • Noah Kagan Presents — The founder of Sumo and AppSumo. Noah is a master at collecting attention and scaling businesses. He interviews other experts on topics in marketing, entrepreneurship, and growth tactics. Noah is also quite funny ;)

More high-level:

  • The Garyvee Audio Experience — Gary Vaynerchuk has a lot to say about marketing, branding, business, parenting, hip-hop — the list goes on and on. You’ll get very useful high-level advice from him, but don’t get carried away in his fiery delivery — remember to go execute.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show — This is mostly to cover my curiosity about people and what forms and drives high-performing individuals. However, Tim is a master communicator, and he often delivers valuable advice on marketing, scaling businesses, and personal development — all things you need as an entrepreneur.
  • Masters of Scale — Reid Hoffman interviews some of the most prominent figures in the tech industry. The podcast is a great collection of entrepreneurial journeys. You’ll get the inside scoop on the origins of some of the most influential companies. There is a lot of advice you can take from each episode, plus you will get tons of inspiration.
  • How I Built This — same as the one above, but with a more diverse collection of guests.

Facebook groups are another great place to learn strategies and tactics that can help you grow your business. I have to admit I am a relatively late adopter to those, but I’m really starting to enjoy them. However, it’s a crowded space and can be overwhelming at first, making it hard to find your way and filter out the quality ones.

Referrals are one of the easiest ways to find quality groups. I like to join groups that are managed by the hosts of the podcasts I listen to or by the guests on the shows. It’s a great starting point. In addition, you can search whether professionals you admire manage such communities.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been actively participating in three groups:

  • Amsterdam startups — because we are based here. It’s a great place to connect with local businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • The Unofficial Shopify Podcast group — a great group of fellow Shopify store owners, e-commerce pros, and experts.
  • FB Marketing Mastery — I don’t remember how I got into this one, but the manager of the group Nicholas Kusmich is regularly sharing useful and very helpful advice about the Facebook advertising platform. He makes cool videos as well 🙂

Blogs, of course, are incredible when you want to go deeper and very technical on a subject.

On the topics that are currently occupying our minds, there are a handful of sources I really enjoy.

  • — those guys are providing immense value on their blog. The topics range from growth hacking, through email marketing, lead generation, Facebook advertising, branding, and much more. Almost every article is written as a case study and is quite long but goes really granular on its subject. They add multiple examples and often include step by step guides on how to replicate the cases they cover. Moreover, they provide a ton of downloadable free material that you can use for your business.
  • The MailChimp blog — we use MailChimp for our emailing needs and the company goes the extra mile to give you the knowledge you need to run successful email campaigns. Their guides are very detailed, easy to follow and often written with a sense of humor.
  • Intercom — even though we are not using it, we still refer to their excellent knowledge base. You can tell that the folks at Intercom spend a lot of effort and attention in providing valuable advice to their customers and other businesses. I highly recommend their ebooks which are perfect to read in a couple of hours and go directly to the point without unnecessary fluff. One book that was particularly helpful to me, to help clear my thinking about the brand and the voice we are building is Intercom on Marketing. It is a fantastic resource for every starting company because it a lot of tactical advice you can apply immediately.
  • 2 PM Links — one of the must-read newsletters for e-commerce entrepreneurs. As a relative newcomer to the field, I recognize I have a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the industry as a whole — its current state and important shifts. The author, Web Smith, is a seasoned e-commerce insider and he curates the most important links every entrepreneur should know about. He also just launched a very impressive DNVB database, exclusively for members of the 2 PM community.

Consultants, agencies, and e-commerce experts who offer their services are an unexpected source of free knowledge and advice. I was really impressed with how approachable and helpful people are from the start.

Those who are smart have adopted the strategy of providing value upfront, without even trying to sell you on their services. Those are people who love what they are doing and most of all love connecting with and helping other entrepreneurs.

Since we’ve been doubling down on understanding how digital advertising, funnels, and conversion actually work, we’ve been connecting with a lot of experts recently. Some have approached us directly, others, we found out through one of the podcasts mentioned above, or through the blogs.

I’d love to give a shoutout to:

We’ve had very pleasant and helpful conversation with those pros who gladly offered their time to go over our website and digital strategy, listened to our story and came up with recommendations on how we can improve.

Other communities, such as Indie Hackers and Medium are a constant source of learning for me. Those platforms help me to connect with other entrepreneurs who are currently building a business and we can exchange ideas and share our experiences.

Indie Hackers, for example, is a perfect place to ask a question or to start a discussion on a topic that is on your mind. It’s also a great place to ask for feedback. Here is an example of how we asked the community to review a landing page on our website.

The decision to be transparent about our process and document the journey of building DULO keeps on paying off. After more than a year of working with this strategy, I am really excited about the opportunities that arise from it. This approach forces us to put ourselves out there and be critiqued, and this to me is one of the most effective ways of learning and improving. It is very easy to get stuck in your own ways of thinking and doing. By leveraging the wisdom of the crowd, you can identify your shortcomings and adjust accordingly.

It will also keep you humble :)

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash