Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey! I’m Sam Wilcox and my startup is called Tribecto Automations. Our core services are email marketing automation, custom CRM setup and custom integrations build for service-based businesses. We focus mainly on the sales and marketing side of things to help our clients nurture leads, book more meetings and make more sales.
Re-designing and re-building the entire front end sales process for businesses is our bag. We have a built set process for doing these projects but each project is unique and every client has different needs which make things super interesting.
We’re working with a lot of B2B businesses and, on average, we’re probably helping around 8-10 clients at any given time.
We recently refined our core service offerings and positioning which worked well and enabled a bit of a growth spurt. We went from making ~$5,000/month to now consistently hitting $10,000/month which I’m super happy about. We’ve been profitable from day one and I intend to keep it that way :)
We’re a super small remote team of one full-timer (me), one part-timer and a handful of trusted contractors that we use for specific projects. We’re currently in the process of hiring another full-time team member which is exciting.
I work out of a super cool co-working space called Works Social in Nottingham UK, which I love…
What's your backstory and how did you start the business?
I’ve been in the sales and marketing space for over 10 years now, starting from the bottom and working my way up. I started out as a lot of sales professionals do, hitting the phone in a call center environment. I was pretty good at it but it wasn’t something that got me excited about getting out of bed in the morning so I decided I wanted to get involved with marketing and the agency space.
I should have prioritized my physical and mental health sooner. In the beginning, the business was all consuming. I was working extremely long days and not seeing much of the outside world.
I came up with the idea for Tribecto while working at InvisiblePPC a white label PPC agency. I had re-designed and re-built the sales process a few times while working there and had really learned how to wield the CRM and automation tools to build better experiences for our customers.
As a lot of ambitious professionals do, I started doing some consulting as a side gig to earn some extra money on evenings and weekends. I was really focused on building up a small base of retainer clients that I could work with on a long term basis and build a solid foundation of cash in the bank to give me some runway if I decided to leave my full-time role.
I was initially finding most of my new clients through Facebook communities. People would post asking about how to solve specific problems with software tools and automation, I’d send a PM and offer to help.
It was a slow process but after around 12 months of plugging away, Tribecto was making more than I was making in my full-time role, which was amazing. But I was paying for it by working 80 hours per week and my mental and physical health was really being hit hard.
I was faced with a dilemma. I enjoyed working at InvisiblePPC and was very loyal to the company, so I didn't want to leave. But something had to give. I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and regret not taking the chance to do something on my own, so I handed in my notice and planned to run Tribecto Automations full time.
That was how it all started!
Describe the process of launching the business.
Well, as I already had a handful of retainer clients from building the business up on the side, I was off to a pretty steady start and profitable from the outset. But not resting with that I knew that I needed a unique angle for the business to carve out a section of the market and gain some notoriety.
As mentioned above, I really got to know the software tools that are involved with building out automated marketing and sales processes and knew that there would be a market of people that needed help with those specific tools.
I was able to build up enough cash in the bank to give me plenty of runways to make mistakes and have bad sales months.
I was a power user of an “all in one” marketing automation and CRM tool called Ontraport and decided that this would be a good niche to get started in as the expert consultant market was not as saturated as other tools like HubSpot or Infusionsoft.
On launch, I built a website that targeted the keywords Ontraport Consultant UK and did some content marketing on our blog and YouTube channel to try and drive traffic to the site. Before long I was appearing on the first page results of Google and getting highly targeted traffic to the site (albeit in extremely low volume) that would book a call via a Calendly scheduler.
At the time I was literally helping Ontraport users with anything they needed. From email campaigns to referral tracking systems to landing page builds. Ontraport does a lot and I would say yes to pretty much most things.
I picked up a new client or two in the first few months and continued to grow my retainer client base.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first productized service.
Around 6 months into running the business full time I had taken on a part-time assistant based in the Philippines and had started to train him on helping out with the simpler tasks that would come in from clients like email and landing page builds as well as some simple automation builds.
This was around the time that I realized we won't be able to grow the business by accepting any and all work that came our way. Naturally, being a service business means trading time for money and our time was pretty much maxed out which means we’d hit a growth ceiling.
I’m a huge fan of the productized service model and decided to embark on a project to identify what we could do to turn our best projects into set processes that can be easily trained internally and positioned easily to new clients as “products”.
I started by identifying our biggest revenue-generating projects and the specific types of businesses that we enjoyed working with the most. After some digging around Quickbooks and some Google docs, it became quite apparent that we were best at re-designing sales processes for B2B companies with sales teams of around 5-10 people. These projects always went well, the clients always saw the value being generated and loved bringing their sales team into the “new ages” by implementing systems and automation.
We were also doing some great email nurture campaign projects and custom-built integrations between systems using webhooks and tools like Zapier.
That’s when I decided that these would be our three core service offerings:
- Email nurture campaigns
- Custom sales process/CRM builds
- Custom integrations
I then went on to write an internal “Instruction Manual” for delivering each one of these services which outline the process and serves as a great training guide for when we hire new team members in the future.
We now have Asana templates filled with all the step by step tasks that we need to do for each one of these services which have been a total game-changer from an efficiency and operations perspective (even with a small team like ours).
The great thing about this is that it’s ever-evolving. By having a defined process and running with its client after client, you easily see where the process needs to improve and evolve. Make some changes to the template and the process is refined for next time.
After building these three productized services we overhauled the website to make it more focused on B2B clients. We invested in some professional videos that gave an overview of what each service is for and the problems that they solve.
We started saying no to projects like landing page builds, email newsletters, membership sites, and referral programs to focus on what we do best.
When we re-launched the website in Q4 of 2019, we had a growth spurt and in November we hit over $10k in revenues for the first time, which was incredibly exciting for such a small team.
Since launching these productized services, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
In terms of lead gen, not much has changed just yet, we’re still getting around 2-3 sales calls per month. But, the good thing about this is that these leads are much more qualified since the re-positioning and our lead to sales conversion rate, has shot up from around 50% to 80% which is amazing.
People want to see that you know what you’re doing before they invest their time and energy into you and your service, so having a set process that you can walk them through is incredibly powerful in the sales conversation.
In regards to retaining our new clients, we’re currently looking at refining our retainer packages to go hand in hand with these new productized services as there is a big opportunity there to provide more value in a way that's a no-brainer for the clients that have used us for these other services.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, we’re still growing steadily and profitable every month. We’re consistently hitting over $10,000/month and are in need of hiring new team members to allow us to grow further.
We’re investing heavily in content marketing this year as a long term growth strategy but this will take a little while to get going and bring more targeted traffic to the site.
I’m aware that I personally need to focus more on growing the business rather than delivering work for our clients so we’re looking for a CRM and email marketing expert to join the team to focus on client delivery while I turn back to marketing and sales.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I should have prioritized my physical and mental health sooner. In the beginning, the business was all consuming. I was working extremely long days, not seeing much of the outside world and even when I wasn’t working I was thinking about work. It was exhausting.
Over the past 4 months, I put a big focus on movement, getting outside and taking care of my body. Literally everything about life has improved since then. The business has been doing better, my productivity and energy have seen huge improvements, I’m more focused and able to do much better work in less time than before.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Here are all the tools we use to run our business:
- G Suite and Google Docs
- Asana for project management
- Ontraport for email marketing and CRM
- Zapier for automation workflows
- Notion for notes and processes
- Slack for internal chat
- Zoom for video conferencing
- Calendly for meeting scheduling
- Toggl for time tracking
- Lucid Chart for process mapping
I think that’s pretty much it!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Built To Sell by John Warrillow has been a game-changer for me. It’s written as a fictional story about a guy that runs a hectic advertising agency. He realizes that he wants to sell the business but he can’t because it’s a bit of a mess. With his mentor, he embarks on a journey to clean up the business and get it in a position where he can make a clean exit.
The book talks about productizing, building a team and much more. I’d recommend it to anyone running a service-based business even if you’re not looking to sell, the insights are extremely valuable.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I can only really talk about starting out as a service provider but the thing that helped me the most was being able to build something on the side before going all in. It’s pretty standard advice but it really does help. I was able to build up enough cash in the bank to give me plenty of runways to make mistakes, have bad sales months and still pay myself enough to live.
If you’ve got skills that you can monetize, start testing out the best way for you to get yourself out there on the side. It’s going to be a lot of work and long hours but if you can do the “trial and error” part of starting a service business in your evenings and weekends, you’ll be able to get off to a much better start when you find something that works.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Currently, we’re looking for people that have CRM and email marketing skills to join the team on a full-time basis. They’d be responsible for working with me on client strategy, delivering client projects and helping us grow by improving our internal processes!
Where can we go to learn more?
- Check out our website
- Drop me an email
- Connect with me on Twitter
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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