Lloyed Lobo, an entrepreneur and podcast host, draws lessons from his time as a young refugee in Kuwait during the Gulf War. Inspired by the strength of the community in crises, he co-founded Boast.AI and Traction using the Community-Led Growth model. This approach enabled Boast.AI to achieve eight-figure revenues and secure over $100 million in funding.
After departing the day-to-day at Boast, Lloyed authored a book titled “From Grassroots To Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community Led Growth,” covering tactical advice from community-led businesses both big and small, such as Apple, Harley Davidson, Nike, Crossfit, HubSpot, and many more to help readers attract passionate and devoted fans of their own. The book topped Amazon’s new release charts in various categories, including Startups and Business Technology, within mere hours of its pre-sale launch.
Lloyed believes the best method to bootstrap a company to $1 million ARR is the approach he used with Boast.AI, successfully reaching $10 million without external funding. Major startups like UiPath (with a market cap of over $9 billion) and Basecamp have also adopted this strategy.
6 unexpected Lessons from Selling a Service
- Delivering Outcomes, Not Just Software
Customers crave outcomes, not merely software. Rather than marketing tools, they seek results – more leads. Rather than fitness apps, they want improved fitness, tangible benefits. Selling a service holds entrepreneurs accountable for delivering these outcomes, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling promises and meeting customer expectations.
- Mastery of Sales Skills
Effective sales skills aren’t about spamming or scamming. Active listening and targeted questions provide valuable insights into customers’ pain points and goals. This leads to tailoring solutions that resonate with customers, fostering trust and relationships built on expertise.
- Customer Success Expertise
Unlike hiding behind digital tools, services are bought for outcomes. No outcome equals no customer. Thus, excelling in customer success becomes paramount. By ensuring that customers achieve their desired results, entrepreneurs establish a foundation for loyalty and business growth.
- Precise Understanding of Business Process
Engaging in manual work unveils the intricate steps required to achieve customer outcomes. This understanding becomes crucial when transitioning to automation. Gathering data manually prompts the creation of integrations, coding solutions, and building workflows that enhance efficiency.
- Transitioning to Automation for Scalability
Gross margins and profits rise as manual labor gives way to software automation. Scaling becomes more feasible as processes become streamlined and efficient, reducing the need for intensive manual work.
- Control and Funding Through Customer Revenue
Entrepreneurs maintain control and avoid dilution as customer revenue fuels the company. This financial independence allows decision-making on their terms, preserving the vision and direction of the business.
5 tactical Steps Boast.AI Took to Bootstrap its way to Success
1. Find an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Seek a market with consistent demand, preferably one that isn’t swayed by the latest popular trend. Ask yourself:
Target Audience: Who do you intend to serve? Consider factors like demographics, job titles, location, and industry.
Needs and Desires: What are their primary needs, objectives, and ambitions?
Challenges: What obstacles hinder them from meeting these goals?
Lifestyle: Where do they spend most of their time? What are their daily habits, and where do they socialize?
Influences: Who are the influencers they follow? Which platforms or services do they frequent, and what are they willing to pay for?
2. Talk to 50-100 customers to hone in on the problem.
Leverage your network + cold email + LinkedIn to reach out. Set up a simple landing outlining the value prop. This will help you validate the ICP and the right problem to solve for them, as well as test and refine your messaging. Always obsess about the problem, not the solution. A well-defined and compelling problem forms the foundation for a successful business. The solution will go through several iterations.
3. Get paid to do the work manually and get customers to their desired outcome.
Nothing makes the rubber hit the road faster than feedback from paying customers. No outcome = no customer. By doing the work manually, you will learn the exact step-by-step process to deliver customer outcomes. And you will get a better understanding of exactly what to build.
4. Use no-code/low-code tools to digitize the manual work.
Boast’s first version was built using Zoho Creator and Zapier, but today there are many other options like Bubble and Webflow. First, identify the manual and repetitive tasks to automate. Break them down into smaller components. Use drag-and-drop interfaces and templates to build your prototype. Leverage APIs if your manual process involves gathering data (many no-code tools have built-in integrations or just use Zapier). Get feedback from customers to iterate and improve.
5. Build an audience & community for your ICP in parallel.
Create content for your ICP on the channels where they hang out most often. Start by compiling a list of 100 burning questions from your audience to generate content ideas. Maximize content reach by repurposing it into various formats. Ex: One Zoom recording can turn into long-form YouTube, Podcast, Shorts, Reels plus text for LinkedIn/ social posts, newsletters/ Substack. Turn your audience into a community by hosting virtual/ IRL events and chat groups on Whatsapp etc.
If you commit to these steps with consistency for at least 12 months, word of mouth will lead to more paying customers and inbound interest from investors.
Conclusion: The Power of Customer Outcomes
Lobo’s journey showcases the transformative potential of focusing on customer outcomes. By delivering value, word of mouth spreads, attracting both customers and investors. With the advent of Generative AI, this process becomes even more streamlined. Entrepreneurial success lies in aligning with customer needs, which naturally drives business growth and paves the way for self-directed decisions.
Lloyed Lobo’s entrepreneurial journey offers six unexpected insights from selling a service model and five steps to bootstrap successfully, emphasizing customer outcomes, sales mastery, customer success, process understanding, automation’s scalability, community-led growth, and the power of customer revenue in maintaining control and growth. After Boast.AI’s success, Lobo wrote a book on building iconic brands with Community Led Growth. Get Lloyed’s book From Grassroots To Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community-Led Growth at FromGrassrootstoGreatness.com
Hi, I’m Oren, founder at BIGINTRO, a content strategy agency that helps B2B companies drive growth. We develop search, social, PR, and content marketing strategies tailored to business goals. I also have a dog named Milo.