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Keeping It Simple to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Business with Sam Parr of The Hustle

Episode #108

Sam Parr (@TheSamParr) describes himself as a midwestern small business owner who discovered the Internet, and his journey from running a hot dog stand to building a media empire seems to prove that. His current business, The Hustle, generates 8 figures in annual revenue from newsletter advertising alone, a feat Sam attributes to great copywriting, relentless experimentation, and the massively underrated power of email. In this episode we talk about how founders can build profitable businesses by resisting the urge to make their tech businesses more complex than they need to be, why it's important to borrow lessons from businesses in other industries, and the art of getting help from others by swallowing your pride and making specific requests.

  1. 3

    Great to hear, and good to hear the importance of copywriting coming back in a number of ways, what is one great book/source to learn more?

  2. 2

    My Main Takeaways:

    • Media Companies Ship: Media Companies build a bunch of products around one brand.
    • A lot of your products may fail: Despite the success, Sam’s media company has tried building a lot of products that have failed, but nobody knows about them.
    • Email lists have a big ROI: A lot of commerce companies generate a large ROI from their email lists.
    • Network and leverage your network: Sam approached a successful entrepreneur (Mike Wolf) and talked his way into helping Mike set up his new store; through this, Sam learned about entrepreneurship.
    • Just start businesses: Sam’s first business was a hot dog stand because that’s all he could afford to start at the time, and it grew, so he began expanding it. Soon he then started an internet business (e-commerce store) and realised that internet businesses scale much better.
    • Leverage Content Marketing: Sam managed to use content marketing via an email newsletter to generate $60k in the first 6 weeks for a conference he ran called “Hustle Con”.
    • Seek and learn from people smarter than you: Sam says that he has always been very good at seeking highly skilled people out and absorbing their knowledge.
    • Don’t be afraid to cold-call/email: For Sam’s first event, he had no network in order to get top speakers, so he just cold-emailed a bunch of top speakers and many accepted his invitation to speak.
    • Learn copywriting: Sam is a self-taught copywriter, so he knew how to convert people on his website, all he needed was their attention.
    • Advice for people starting with no audience: Start blogging, share your blog, get traffic, and collect emails.
    • Be a dedicated learner: After discovering his interest in copywriting, Sam locked himself indoors for 6 months and learned everything he could on the topic of copywriting and sales letters.
    • Repeat what works, until it doesn’t: Sam used the exact same content marketing strategy for his second event as he did for his first event, and his second event was even more successful (because it grew).
    • Sam’s summary of business: Buy low, sell higher. Get customers and keep customers happy. Inspire talented people to work with you.
    • Sam is an introvert: He typically prefers staying home alone, and not hanging out with people.
    • Don’t be too proud: A lot of people are scared to ask just in case they hear “no”.
    • Wise experienced people like disciplined inexperienced people: Sam says that he learned that highly skilled people/experts like seeing less skilled people listening to and following their advice, and being successful as a result.
    • Don’t give up on your vision when it gets hard: There will be times that you feel like caving in, but you must push through those moments.
    • Ask specific questions to busy people: Busy people don’t want to waste time on vague questions.
    • Being a great founder is different from being a great leader: Although Sam says he is proficient in starting a company, he admits he’s not great at being a leader or manager of people, so he hired a company president to do that for him.
    • Finding great people is harder than building great products: Sam says that to build a great product you can just copy someone else and make it better, but to find great people you have to search far and wide.
    • Let go of needing things to go your way all the time: Stop focusing on trying to win the battle so much that you forget to win the war.
    • You don’t need a crazily innovative idea: Your business idea can be simple, as long as it meets a real need, you will earn money.
    • Start simple: Big companies, like Facebook, started small and simple, and grew over time.
    • “When driving at night, your headlights only need to be shining a few feet ahead of you at any given moment for you to be able to arrive at your destination.” - Sam Parr
    • Accept that your fears a normal: Everybody has the same or similar fears, they are not unique to you, just don’t let them hold you back.
  3. 2

    Great Podcast. Such a cool interview. Thanks for bringing Sam to Hindi Hackers. I notice that on the transcript (0h 52m 20s)Sam Twitter Handel is linking to a different Sam.

  4. 1

    Wow ... cool interview focusing mostly on first principles about how to create a successful business.

    Some of the most important ones?
    (1) Just keep it simple, you don't have to invent the wheel each time.
    (2) Though antic, emails are an underrated instrument to rich people.
    (3) Learn how to ask (being it in marketing or how to get advice from a successful person.