Years ago, I thought it would be neat to start an interview podcast where I would talk with successful entrepreneurs and uncover the specific moment in time and that one fundamental thing they did that allowed them to crush it.
I wanted answers to questions no one was asking.
For example, I saw John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire podcast fame achieve massive success. For what seemed like years in a row, he was generating half a million dollars in monthly recurring revenue, as a solopreneur in his San Diego apartment no less.
The question no one ever asked him was: Can you walk me through the thought process, let’s dig deep, on the moment when you realized producing a daily business podcast using batch processing was not going to be the real revenue-generating business, but rather, it would be a membership community (Podcaster’s Paradise) you would create adjacent to that podcast and so much more at a meta-level?
Fast-forward to April 2020, Noah Kagan self-published a YouTube video entitled “How I Run an 8-Figure Company (How I created it, Made first sale & got BIG)” where he revealed fantastically thoughtful business advice, the depth of which I’m so appreciative to hear – Noah’s monologue goes far beyond the surface questions of an interview, gets into some fundamental philosophical stuff on how he’s wired and approaches growing a digital business, and unlocks meta-level guidance.
Best entrepreneur advice and 11 business tips from Noah Kagan that will help and teach you how to grow an 8-figure business.
- Get started today
- Establish a clear goal with a deadline
- Make 8-figure decisions
- 10x things that work
- Weekly pulses
- Optimize the 80%
- Sleep is critical
- Align your calendar to your most important goal
- 2 ways to grow a large company, people and software
- The 10-year rule
- Find and solve your own problems
Game-Changing Noah Kagan Business School Insights & Best Advice
I’m going to share the top things I learned from the Noah Kagan business school and that are encouraging to any entrepreneur.
The hyperlinks below will take you to the corresponding timestamp in Noah’s video – now that’s efficient!
Get started today. Stop procrastinating, just take the first step, today! I constantly need to lean into this advice. A smart guy named James Wedmore told me you can overthink it and be a perfectionist all you want, but you already know by now that perfectionism is a survival tactic for trying to avoid criticism – the only reason you’re a perfectionist is because you’re trying to avoid judgment and criticism – wow, that’s speaking truth in love.
Establish a clear goal with a deadline. Noah shared his goal in the first year of AppSumo was to make $3,500 per month so he could create the lifestyle he wanted. Noah’s second-year goal for AppSumo was to get 100,000 email signups. That’s impressive how he (1) took action and got started with something (Noah was even transparent enough to show us the Internet Archive on AppSumo, the first version wasn’t pretty) putting some revenue on the board and then (2) he became far more strategic about what was going to unlock long-term platform growth, nice work.
Make 8-figure decisions. This is a really subtle concept yet can be super powerful even when just starting. When evaluating strategy, ask yourself whether this is a 6,7, 8-figure opportunity. Doing so will increase your discipline and make it easier to identify the best use of your time (for higher figure activities) – for anyone with an MBA, fundamentally, this is “opportunity cost” but with a more impactful spin in my opinion. I think this goes hand-in-hand with a concept Michael Hyatt talks about in his fantastic book The Vision Driven Leader (Amazon), specifically the sheer fact you have a vision will allow you to say no to things that divert you from accomplishing your vision for your business.
When evaluating new ideas, ask yourself: Is this a 6,7, or 8-figure opportunity?
10x things that work. This concept makes a ton of sense to me, but it’s easy to lose your way or chase a new shiny growth tactic. Think about it this way, if you’re running Google Ads and they’re working, review your 10 ads and double-down on the top 2 or 3 and drop the rest and continue to optimize in this manner. It would have been interesting to hear from Noah on how he balances trying new things and optimizing existing initiatives.
Weekly pulses. As your business grows, scales, and becomes more sophisticated, there are going to be more dials. Yet, keep it simple, focus on (1) your key yearly goal and (2) leading indicators, the things you can observe that will reveal whether you’re on the right track. How are the indicators trending? Figure out what you can control. With AppSumo, the leading indicators Noah focuses on are (1) email signups (2) traffic (3) refund rate and (4) conversion rate.
Optimize the 80%. Noah talks about whether the foundation of your house is great. There are basic foundational things in running a digital business, how is my typing speed (keybr.com, 10 fast fingers – 80 WPM for me), how is my tracking mouse speed, how is my device on which I primarily work performing? Think about it this way, what am I working on 80% of the time, if I can make that more effective, everything else will produce amplified results. In the digital age, your computer is the gateway to all your productivity, so make sure you have all the right tools in place and have them optimized. I took action and made the investment into top gear and I really don’t know how I was productive previously. Turn on Gmail shortcuts – Shift + ? to see all shortcuts. Be intentional about saving time with the small things (which clearly add up) so you can focus on what actually matters.
Your sleep is critical. Why is this topic not covered in traditional business schools? It’s really that important. Noah recommends the Signature sleep memoir foam mattress (Amazon), the Oura ring to track and intentionally optimize sleep, the Chilisleep coler, an air conditioning system for your mattress, and the Tuft & Needle original foam pillow (Amazon). Overall, how do you set things up so every day is great and you’re setup to succeed.
Setup your calendar to align your time to your most important goal. We all have the same amount of time, so how are certain people able to get more done? They have a clear goal and they align their priorities throughout the week toward that goal. So ask yourself how much of your week is spent on your most important goal, do you have a goal? Color-code your calendar so you know visually with a quick glance you’re working on your goal, and be brutally honest with how much of your week is in the sweet spot of where you actually want to spend your time. Noah suggests auto-repeating activities you know you love as it reduces the mental energy needed to ensure they happen. If you’re skipping certain meetings often, that’s a sign they can safely be canceled. And here’s a game-changer, ask yourself what you are looking forward to on your calendar, what are you excited about and do more of that.
There are 2 ways to grow a large company, people and software. People are a differentiator, make sure you have the best people. People can often unlock higher leveraged tasks for you too. Ask yourself what’s holding me back from my next level of growth? What if you could get someone to do it for you, would that help you grow? Get started and make sure you have amazing people around you.
The 10-year rule. Have you picked a tidal wave (Shopify and e-commerce is a tidal wave)? It’s going to take you a bunch of time to do anything, so why not pick something that’s a “bigger market” thing, and, something you enjoy. Take action and start, knowing whatever you build can pivot and/or be expanded. Practically speaking, you’re going to start small with one thing that provides value, but as Mitch Harper teaches, have the “value ladder” in mind – the concept of creating adjacent niched-down offers that increase customer lifetime value.
Find and solve your own problems. Find something you could work on for the next 10 years. Find something you actually enjoy and want to solve because it might take 10 years to get the results you want.
Noah Kagan Encouraging Entrepreneurs. Thank You!
What an encouragement and an example of someone who has taken action. All 11 pieces of advice are top-notch. Thank you, Noah Kagan!
After recently reading Michael Hyatt’s The Vision Driven Leader, I find myself focusing right now on “Establish a clear goal with a deadline” as it aligns well to Hyatt’s vision script concept, and, it forces you to establish clarity on everything from your “why” to the leading indicators Noah highlighted.
I’m focused on “Find and solve your own problems” too, as I believe doing so creates inherent and immediate authority along with the credibility to launch a done-with-you type program where you teach what you’re already doing to others to help them solve their challenges and reach their goals faster.