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28 min read

The Ultimate Blueprint for Solopreneurs Building A Community from Scratch

how solopreneurs can build a community from scratch

 

Watch the Episode on YouTube

Flying solo in business doesn't mean you're alone.

We say this all the time, but truer words have never been said.

And while the idea of building a community is important, it can be easier said than done if you've never done it from scratch before.

So, in today's episode, we stepped away from our standard interview format and brought in two guests, Andy Guttormsen from Circle and Stacy Blette, LifeStarr's very own community manager, to do a workshop on the steps you need to take to grow and build an audience from nothing.

Our editor messaged us after listening to this podcast to say how much he loved it and got out of it. I have to say, I have to agree.

It's one of our favorite, most practical, and action-packed episodes we've done. You will walk away with a to-do list.

Enjoy!

Oh, and be sure to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a five-star review :)

Connect with Andy Guttormsen and Stacy Blette

Going solo in business doesn't mean you're alone! Join our thriving Facebook community group exclusively designed for solopreneurs!  Connect with like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges and triumphs of running a business single-handedly. Gain valuable insights, discover proven strategies, and unlock the power of networking as you engage in lively discussions and receive expert advice. We hope to see you there!

About Andy Guttormsen

Andy is building the modern community platform for creators at Circle. Circle is the all-in-one community platform for creators and brands that serves 10,000+ customers, with 120+ team members across the world. 

About Stacy Blette

Stacy is always forming communities. Whether it's to help someone in need or organizing a road race, Stacy is behind it. She's a big Patriots fan (her husband works for them!) and a proud mother to a son in the Army Special Forces and a daughter who is taking the high school field hockey world by storm. In her free time (what's that?), Stacy enjoys running, photography, the beach, the beach, and the beach!

Full Episode Transcript

Andy Guttormsen (00:00):

The number one misOake people made was that they had way too many, what we call spaces in their community, too much stuff going on instead of just focusing people on a signature gathering. So instead of adding the extra things, I would only hone in on those two to three signature gatherings and make those really great.

Intro (00:17):

Welcome to Solopreneur the One-Person business podcast for professionals ready to take charge of their company of one and reclaim their freedom. Join us as we bring you inspiring stories, invaluable insights and practical strategies from successful solopreneurs and industry experts. Get ready to feel empowered to create a thriving business that aligns with your unique goals and allows you to live life on your own terms. Here are your hosts, Joe Rando and Carly Ries.

Carly Ries (00:50):

Welcome to Solopreneur the One-Person Business podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Carly Ries.

Joe Rando (00:55):

And I'm Joe Rando

Carly Ries (00:56):

We are doing a different format today. Usually we do the interview format, interview style, and today we are actually going to be doing a workshop on how to build a community from scratch for solopreneurs. This is something that is so important for one person business owners because you not only need it to get your stuff done for a state of mind, but you needed to grow your own audience. To help us do that today, we have two guests. If you're seeing on YouTube, there are four squares, not just three. Today we have our very own community manager, Stacy Bette, who actually has a side hustle she's working on, and that's going to be our Guinea pig. But then we also have drum roll please. Andy Guttormsen. He is the co-founder at Circle, and if you are not familiar with Circle, it is an all-in-one community platform for creators and brands, and they currently serve over 10,000 people. So he knows what he's talking about and from our standpoint, they're a match made in heaven today. So Andy, Stacy, welcome to the show.

Andy Guttormsen (01:57):

Hi, thank you so much. Really been looking forward to this.

Carly Ries (02:00):

Yeah, we have too. It's been a long time coming. I think I was the one that had to reschedule last time and I was super bummed about it. I'm glad we're finally on the air. Andy, I am usually the interviewer and I am going to pass the baton to you. I want you to run this like you would any of your workshops with Circle and Stacy, just get prepared to answer the questions. We are just going to work through this, listeners, as if this was your business starting from scratch. So get a notepad out, get your phone out, get what you need, and tune in.

Andy Guttormsen (02:31):

Well, thank you so much Carly. Stacy, I cannot wait for you and I to dive in here. Ultimately I think we want to know what success looks like for you and I for the next 35 to 45 minutes. So the idea here is you walk away with a pretty clear plan for how you would potentially launch a community first business. Before we get there, tell me a little bit about it. What are your goals? What's going on?

Stacy Blette (03:09):

So the big goals, big goal is to have a big party online every day where people can come in and just feel encouraged, supported, a big enthusiastic space. Backing up my product, is something I designed for runners. My company is called SweatProof and it's an accessory that you wear while running that helps with sweating, excessive sweating. It's a cloth that you can use to wipe sweat or blow your nose or anything. Actually, I came upon this idea while running a marathon. I've run 17 marathons to date. Yes, Slow and steady. I'm not one in the Laurel wreath, but crossing the finish line. So I was running a marathon and the man in front of me dropped his paper towel that he was using and he stopped to pick it up and I went right into the back of him. So my product actually is a cloth on a retractor that you clip anywhere on your clothing so that you can use it and then just let it go and it will retract back into itself. That's really the product, but the running community is phenomenal. And the community that I want to build around this is just more runners who sweat excessively, backpackers, anybody who needs a little bit of encouragement and support along the way. And like I said, just one big online party when they join the community.

Andy Guttormsen (04:39):

Amazing. So I'm going to do a little bit of discovery with you real quick, just a few different questions so I can get some context. So the group, these are runners. When you think about the community itself, what role would it play in your broader business? Is it kind of its own individual thing? Is it a paid membership community, for instance, where people they sign up to get access to it? Is the goal actually to sell more of your other product or maybe not? How do you think about the purpose of the community for you?

Stacy Blette (05:15):

I'm thinking along the lines of a Susan G Komen where it's not a paid membership, it's an online community that you can join. My original thought was to niche down to women, but I've backed off on that a little bit. It's really for exposure for products, but encouraging to post pictures. What races are you going to be at? Who else from SweatProof is going to be there and have logo apparel so that you can find those people while you're there.

Andy Guttormsen (05:49):

Love it. And so when you think about when we figure out this strategy, which we're going to get to the strategy, the tactics very specific with real examples in a moment. But when you think about what happens if this goes well, how many people are in there? What does a typical week look like for the members specifically. What do they get in terms of the value? Tell me about that. T

Carly Ries (06:15):

The running community is extremely supportive. I am a member of two different running clubs and I get something different from each one. The main thing is just encouragement, which is huge for I would say mid to backpackers. They need that encouragement to keep going. So very encouraging. I would be happy with 5,000 members. Big, and then people coming in and saying where they are, what pace they run. They've got their cloth, they've got their sweat headband or whatever the product is, but just support and encouragement. And when they come in, they know they can say where they're going to be and then eventually have an in-person community at different races.

Andy Guttormsen (07:05):

Love it. I know you can do that. 5,000 members is totally doable. So the context is really helpful. When you think about launching a community from scratch, which is what this is, a community is a little bit different than an audience. You might think if I had an audience, I would have a following. It's a one to many relationship, but my audience, they don't connect with each other. A community, what you're talking about is something where those members, they're connecting and getting value with each other instead of just you. A lot of people when they're just starting out, the first thing that they think about is, what if I launched this community and nobody signs up? Or what if I launched the community and people sign up and then they don't get enough value?

(07:54):

Or what if I launched the community and people come in, but it's a ghost town and then I look, I have an egg in my face and it's actually really vulnerable to actually say, "Hey, I want to launch a community" and then go out and try to do it because there's a chance of failure. At Circle we have 10,000 communities. We have communities that are some of the biggest brands on the planet like Adobe or Webflow, down to little small, very small businesses where it's just one really ambitious solopreneur. Frankly, most of our communities are like that. Then we have everything in between. Whether you're the really big community or the small community, most folks should start out doing the same thing, which is identify, what we call signature gatherings. A signature gathering is really these two or three or four moments, these community experiences that you're going to provide to people.

(08:52):

It's the value prop for your community. It's like the product, the big features. Signature gatherings, we need to figure out what yours might be. A signature gathering, I'll give you some really great examples. One of my favorite examples, there's a guy named Josh Hall. He has a design community, and his design community is all freelance designers. They're individuals who run their own businesses. He has a community with I think now about 150 people. It's a few thousand dollars a year actually. So it does a few hundred thousand dollars. His community members love him, but they love the value they get from each other. So he's a signature gathering where it's called Hot Seats. People come in, it's a business community. They come in and they're in groups of six or seven once a week. One person's on the hot seat every week, the other six or seven people in the group, they're there.

(09:42):

Me. say I'm on the hot seat, I might say, I have this big problem in my business, we're all going to solve it together. We're all going to focus just on you this week, solving your problem. That's one example of a signature gathering, but incredibly valuable for Josh. Another example might be book clubs. Another example might be sharing your work and getting feedback. So David Perell has this amazing writing community called Right of Passage. And what he did is he has all these folks going through writing and then getting feedback on their work every single week. It's incredibly valuable. Other examples might be you bring an expert to teach on something once a week, once every other week or once a month or maybe even better. You identify people in your community because maybe somebody that might be the experts.

(10:26):

If you have a hundred members in there, there's so much knowledge, bring them in for the experts. Even have your community vote on who that person could be or what they might teach. As you think about the signature gatherings, I mean we have 15, 16, 17 of them that are really common what we see all the time but you're going to identify the two to three signature gatherings for you. You're going to choose ones that you're comfortable with. Meaning if you really like teaching yourself, being live, whatever it is, maybe you'll create a training or you'll have the experts. Maybe if you're a little bit more tactical, maybe it's something completely different and it's off camera. We need to figure out what those two to three signature gatherings are for your community.

Joe Rando (11:14):

Can I ask a question? When you have these signature gatherings, what kind of a percentage attendance do you expect to see? If you've got a thousand members, what percentage would you expect to show up if you're doing it right?

Andy Guttormsen (11:32):

It should be a pretty high percentage. It all comes back to nailing who the community is for and being really thoughtful about expectation setting coming into the community. This podcast would be an example. There are going to be listeners to the podcast, but we haven't really explicitly set an expectation with them about what they're going to contribute back from the podcast. Maybe you have, but less likely with a podcast format as an example. With a community though, a lot of times people are replying or they're signing up. A lot of times you're doing a one-on-one call with those first folks. So it should be pretty high because when they come in, set the expectation that we need you to post respondent members, show up to the events, all that kind of stuff, to be a really great contributing member, which is different than some other formats.

Carly Ries (12:27):

That's a really good point, that expectation. Perfect.

Andy Guttormsen (12:31):

Stacy, we will come back to the signature gatherings in a moment, but one of the things that a lot of people, even people with really large audiences, what they don't like to hear, but it's the truth is that when you start these communities, a lot of times it's like starting a fire. You're rubbing two rocks together. It takes a lot of work. Even if you have a massive audience, you kind of have to start with 30 people and do one-on-one calls with each of them to say, Hey, here's what our signature gatherings are going to be. Here's what my expectations would be of you. We're going to start the community on this date, then it's going to go every whatever." You would have to do that. That's the good thing actually though about starting from scratch is that in the community world you got some advantages from having a big audience, but in some ways it's almost like you get to give all this value to those first members because it's so small, which makes it more valuable and easier for you to deliver on your promise.

(13:36):

When you think about what may go wrong, if acquity doesn't work or whatever, actually it's easier for you to reduce that risk, a smaller group. When you think about signature gatherings and the real value prop, different value props, different moments that you could provide to people in the community, what are some things that come to mind?

Stacy Blette (13:59):

One of the things that you did mention was weekly. I mean I could even have it daily because I could talk about running all day long, but weekly gathering or a weekly chat for people to come in and say, "Hey, I'll run in such and such a race on Saturday. I'm nervous, I'm slow, " whatever. And have an encouragement call. Have everybody get together. It's almost like a hot seat. Hey, who's doing what this weekend? Let's see what their issue is. And they may not. They may just come in to encourage other people. There are a lot of people like that. So have that at least once a week and that would be huge. It gets everybody pumped up right before the weekend and then they're ready to come back on Monday and say, "Hey, here's what happened." It could be a Friday call and a Monday get together, something like that, piggybacking on the weekend. So that would be one huge thing for the community.

Andy Guttormsen (14:59):

I love that.

Carly Ries (15:00):

Thanks. See, I could start it right now. Then there are two other things, especially with the people that I'm targeting. One would be speakers that talk about your running form, how to start running, how to tweak your running form, the difference between cadence and pace, different things like that, that go with running. More of an educational aspect. Then another one would be talking about your apparel. What do you wear for different temperatures, different length of races, so educational. And then the other one would be race etiquette. If you've never been to a big marathon before, what do you do? How do you act? Where do you line yourself up? I think a lot of it is educational and then that encouragement piece.

Andy Guttormsen (15:53):

Love it. So we're going to get in a minute to going out and finding these members. Let's start with refining that offer. The first thing you mentioned was, it's a really great kind of version of a signature gathering. One of the most effective, which is accountability groups or whatever it is. So there are different forms of that that you could explore. You mentioned the idea of maybe people kind of sharing their intentions earlier on. Let's say in the week or at the end of the week, whatever it is. "Hey, maybe this is what my next week is going to look like in terms of my running and my plan and all of that." And then there's me being accountable to sharing it, maybe me being accountable to updating folks on how it went, maybe feedback from other people. There are different versions of this where it could happen in private messages.

(16:46):

I could be paired with an accountability partner or accountability group. It could happen more publicly so a lot of people can see my plans. There's a little bit more broader, not pressure, but broader accountability and all of that. So you could really refine what that is. And maybe to start, it's a broader group and to your point, it's maybe I share early in the week, my whole plan for the week and then get some encouragement review. But maybe as part of the community, I review other people's plans for the week and I give them feedback, encouragement, all of that. That's kind of part of it. So maybe that's your first signature gathering is some version of accountability.

(17:30):

The second one you mentioned was education, but kind of a community approach to education where this is the best part of a community. Instead of you just coming up with all the ideas, you ask the members, what do they want? Let them vote on it or even let them propose what we're going to vote on. What are some ideas? Come up with a list that they create, then let the whole community vote. If you want to go even one step further than that, say, "which of our members do you want to hear from?" That would be great. So that's something that you could do. How often do you think you would want to do that in the community,

Stacy Blette (18:14):

The educational piece? At least once a month, maybe twice a month.

Andy Guttormsen (18:24):

That could be a good cadence. Maybe once every two weeks. So that's pretty cool. So now if you think about it, I'm a runner. I am joining this group, getting to be part of a group where I'm going to make some relationships. I'm going to have accountability, get the encouragement, maybe even some valuable feedback throughout the week. I'm going to be learning probably from somebody once every two weeks who really knows their stuff on a very specific niche. We're not talking broad stuff, we're talking very specific. So then we have two pretty good signature gatherings there. We probably want three or four really solid ones. It could literally just be two, by the way. Another example could be something like a challenge. Challenges are really popular, and they're similar to accountability groups. But for five straight days, I'm going to do this thing, or 30 straight days I'm going to do this thing. A lot of times fitness is great for challenges. So maybe there's a challenge you could explore. Is there anything that comes to mind tied to running?

Stacy Blette (19:38):

When I think about it, everybody's going to be doing different lengths of races, so I'd have to stop and think about something everybody could do together. Otherwise, my thought would be to have an annual Grand Prix and you do a race once a month, it doesn't matter what length you're doing. Almost like at the end of the year, we have an annual banquet and everybody gets points to the number of races they've done. That way you don't have to all be running marathons or all be doing 5 Ks or things like that. Then you can have once a month challenge update to see how many did you do this month and lead it in, keeping people engaged through the whole year.

Andy Guttormsen (20:23):

Love that. retention is so important. I could even imagine that as you're going, a lot of times you can have little badges and things like that that you put on people's profiles to give them recognition and credibility throughout the community for taking on different challenges. I could see you having a version of that. So those signature gatherings, those are all actually very repeatable and they keep somebody engaged over an extended period of time. The signature gatherings we have here, they don't require me to be hanging out in the community all day. They just require me to be very intentional and show up for that moment and then I can come back. That takes some pressure off. It's hard to get people to hang out in a community all day. So it probably shouldn't even be the goal.

(21:16):

So you might have three signature gatherings there. Now you might want to have an extra area or something just for more open-ended conversation interactions. But let's imagine that's your signature guide. So you have three signature gatherings. You could create a pretty good landing page there that explains that if you wanted to. Now you're going to go figure out where my first founding number is going to come from because you want to get to 5,000, but it's going to be impossible if you can't even serve 10. We've got to find those 10. Now, these are going to be the crazy irrational people who are willing to go on this journey with you. You don't have any community yet. And one of the things that I would feel if I was creating a community from scratch is, "do I have to convince these people that I have some really great community already running" and will I feel good about that, probably not.

(22:17):

It's much easier and takes all the pressure off if you just tell people you're very transparent, "Hey, I'm starting this thing from scratch. I'm looking for my initial founding members and we're going to do this thing together. You're going to build it with me." That's an easier conversation to have with folks. We have to go out and find those people, and we'll talk about that in a minute. But once we go and have those conversations and find those 20 people, 30 people, we have to bring them into the community. Then they have to get a really great experience because they're going to be coming in and the first thing they're going to be wondering is, did I make the right decision? Is Stacy going to be able to really make this thing happen? All you have to do is prove it kind of upfront. I actually think this is one of the easiest parts to do if you know, very tactically, how to approach it. There are basically three steps I would recommend. If you were to put yourself in the member's shoes. Let's say they've already agreed to come into the community, what fears do you think that they might have or what hesitations are going through their head?

Stacy Blette (23:26):

They don't know anybody originally, unless they come in with other people, but they don't know anybody. They're not good enough. I know sometimes I feel like I'm not fast enough, I'm not good enough to be in a group. So before I join them, I kind of poke in and see if I can see somebody that's my pace or something. That's the two main fears I think.

Andy Guttormsen (23:48):

So I don't know anybody and I'm not good enough, I'm not fast enough. It's more from a skill level. So it's really good to know what their objections are and how you might overcome. "I don't know anybody", very solvable. We're going to solve that right out of the gate. And then the skillset is another one. One of my favorite examples of a community, it's for business owners. It's a membership community. It's run by a guy named Pat Flynn, SPI Media. He has about 600 people in there. One of the things that they've always been incredibly intentional about is how to actually onboard the members and give them a great experience upfront that they can retain those members. When you bring people into your community, the first thing is we're going to have those conversations with one-on-one conversations with those founding members upfront.

(24:54):

And we're going to explain to them exactly what they're going to get inside to really set the expectations. But when they come in, one thing we can do is what the SPI team does. First of all, they talk one-on-one with all the customers and all the different members, at least they used to for the first few cohorts. If you go to university or you're going away, I remember when I was 19, going to school for the first time and nervous a couple of months beforehand, and they do this freshman orientation where you come and you meet all the classmates before you go in. SPI actually does a version of that. Before you even get into the membership, they say, all right, the cohort is going to start, or this month everybody gets in on this day or whatever it is.

(25:39):

But two weeks or three weeks before that, they bring all the new members together and they get a chance to meet each other, ask questions. They set expectations. They say, "Hey, here's what a great member is." Maybe they bring in some existing members to come and talk and share their experience, but they get you excited. That way, that first day of school, you kink of know the other folks in there with you, you're not there by yourself. So that's one thing you could do. You could maybe open up your community once a month and then you have cohorts. People come in together, they have friends, they know people, but regardless, you're going to let people in and they're going to jump into the community. There are three things you got to do. The first thing is you have to make sure people get familiar with the tool, the environment, and know how to use it. The other thing is you need to give people some immediate positive reinforcement for making the right decision. Get them some value right away. And the third thing is you need to help them get connected to at least one other member. Some relationship has to form in the first 24 hours. That's when they're judging you the most and they're on the fence. You have to validate their decision and make them feel like they made the right call.

(26:52):

It sounds like a big task, something tough to do for every member, but you can create systems and use the tools to help do that. For example, something very tactical you could do is you're going to create this home for your community where people go, where they get in. You can come in and basically have a nice little welcome video. It's you talking because it's community, it's all about the people. So you'll welcome them in. You'll explain the lay of the land and all of that, how to use the tool. But the next thing you can do is you can have a getting started checklist, kind of like a new member onboarding checklist. You can say, "I want you to go through this list. At the end of the list, I want you to maybe send me a DM or send this person a DM".

(27:45):

Maybe it's one of your team members or whatever it is. I recommend it be you. So they send you a DM after they go through, give 'em a gift or something nice, say, I'll give you a gift and this awesome thing. I think you'll really love it, whatever it is, and send them a nice note. So they've now gone through this checklist, which kind of gives them a lay of the land and all of that. The other thing you'll do as maybe part of that checklist is you'll have them reach out to a specific member. Sometimes you can just connect them with another member who you think could be a great fit. Even better if you then introduce that person to the community, because a lot of people say, "Hey, go introduce yourself in the community or whatever". That's fine. The best thing to do is maybe go and say, I'm going to use my authority, my influence, my recognition as the admin to go and write a glowing review of this person. I'm going to introduce them to the community and say, what's so great about them. And if you accomplish that in that first hour of somebody coming into the community, those moments, you can really go a long way in terms of setting them up to succeed and stick around. But how does that sound?

Stacy Blette (28:57):

That sounds amazing. It sounds amazing because it feels like they would start connecting with people right away.

Andy Guttormsen (29:04):

You kind of know the signature gatherings. You may have the accountability. Maybe there's a challenge. Maybe you're bringing in experts, maybe there's an open area, maybe you have a book club, maybe there are all these different things you could do. There's long list. Where do you think you might look to find the first 30 members? What's your instinct telling you?

Stacy Blette (29:28):

My instinct tells me my two existing running clubs. But I know from already knowing those people that they're not all my niche. I do have a lot of friends. I have so many friends who are slower runners or walkers who aren't part of the running clubs. I really would reach out to more of my friends. I would reach out to the running clubs as well, but more of my friends that I've encouraged to come into the running club so that we can have a wide variety of paces. Then also my family. They would jump on board in a heartbeat, but that's really where I would be looking for more of my friends who are slower runners or are power walkers.

Andy Guttormsen (30:15):

Love it. So these are people who are, maybe kind of more getting introduced to running.

Stacy Blette (30:23):

Yes, because we all start somewhere.

Andy Guttormsen (30:35):

So your friends, your family, people that you know. A lot of people, their first instinct, especially by the way, business owners, marketers, this is how I am. My first thought is, okay, I want to create some amazing marketing. I want to go out and I want to do this big launch and I want to have the cool branding and everything has to be perfect. But what you're talking about is actually probably the right way. That's how most of the communities get started. It's like you pick out your phone and you go through your contacts. You figure out who would be five people on my phone that are great, or I go to LinkedIn and I find if I have 500 contacts, I find the five from there, and then I find the five from this other group that's offline. And you may literally create a list, like a paper of those names and reach out to them and you'll reach out to them and then you'll send them an email.

(31:32):

You don't even necessarily need a landing page, but you could have a landing page. You could say, Hey, I'm going to do this. Do you want to chat? So you would hop on a call with them, which isn't very scalable. But the whole point in this phase is to create some validation and learnings. This is your product essentially. You're almost getting product market fit for your community. It's like community market fit. Because if you can nail that, then you can worry about scaling up to 5,000 members. What kind of questions come to mind when you think about how do I get my first members? What are you feeling?

Stacy Blette (32:10):

That part I'm not sure about yet. I guess maybe I would want to know how many other communities they're in. So I would know how active they would be. Are they even open to being in the community? How do they feel when they go out and start racing? Have they been doing any races? So try to just get a general history on how they feel about being accountable and being part of a group or a community. That would be I guess my main group of questions

Andy Guttormsen (32:42):

Those would be great questions and it would be tempting to just let anybody in the community, but actually then you kind of start to get this base. This is what Joe was touching on earlier, how engaged are they? What's the right amount of people? If you have too many people who aren't the right fit, it can really dilute the whole community and it can bring down the experience for everybody else. One of my favorite communities on the planet is run by a guy named Jayson Gaignard. It's called Mastermind Talks. It's been around for over 10 years. He actually capped the number of members in the community. His philosophy is quality over quantity, and in fact, our quantity will never get bigger. We will only increase the quality of people in the room, and that's how he's really sustained his community.

(33:36):

If we think about scaling the community up and your time, maybe not even scaling it up, but let's say you have a hundred members, how would you run it day to day? How would you allocate your time?

Stacy Blette (33:51):

Well, because I still work full time, it's going to be a lot of evenings and weekends, which is what I'm doing now with the product development. And that's okay because most people that are in a community aren't in it during the day. They're either working or taking care of their kids or doing something else. So I'm okay with being in it just at night, jump on in the morning, say good morning, little quick video, let it go during the day, jump on again at night. How did everybody do today? Who still has to go out tonight? And I'm okay with that. I tend to work a lot around the clock, so I'm good with after hours and weekends and things like that.

Andy Guttormsen (34:37):

When you think about, obviously there's always the trade off of time. How much time can I invest in this thing and what does it have to be, what's the return got to be in order for it to be worth my time, essentially? Do you know very explicitly what your goal might be in terms of product sold or extra revenue generated or opportunities created? I'll give you an example. There's a great community that we have. It's a venture capital group. They run their community, all their communities for portfolio founders. They just help their portfolio founders get together, but they also hope they get deal flow from it. They don't monetize it at all. There are all sorts of different goals. What needs to happen for it to be worth it for you from a business perspective? It's okay if it's not purely about the business, it's just kind of indirect.

Stacy Blette (35:38):

So obviously you can tell it's something that I just have fun with. I'm passionate about it. I love to help people feel accomplished and feel joy. For me, I don't really see it at day to day as working. That's the community side, the product side. I would like to have enough revenue to pay for my daughter's college or something like that. Not looking to make a million dollars overnight, but just something to do after retirement. Something that I could do after retirement to stay active, to travel. One of my best moments would be if I have a group of people and I know they're running a San Diego marathon and I show up and they're like, "oh my gosh, it's the SweatProof lady. She's here." That's what I'm looking forward to, stuff like that and just running the whole group together and that's my dream.

Andy Guttormsen (36:56):

Love it. It seems like there are a couple of different options here. There's the, will this indirectly help my product sell more? You've got to sell a lot of volume in order for it to make an impact there. So directly, the community may not play as big of an impact there. Other things you might think about is a lot of times if you do have a low price on these communities, if they are paid, it does help you get more people who are a bit more invested and committed. It also helps give you a little bit of cash just to help deliver even more value to people. Have somebody on your team who can help. Have some more polish on the signature gatherings. But when you think about the action plan, let's say that you're like, "all right, I'm going to do it." The painting is kind of getting colored in a little bit. I could see what this could look like. How quickly would you want to move towards that? What do you think the next steps would be if you were to get into action mode?

Stacy Blette (38:11):

Well, right now, I'm in the middle of writing up. I have a giant spreadsheet on all of the different things that I would do, which would be activities or events in the community, posts that I want to do. I'm trying to make lists of people who could give me educational information, do the bimonthly talks. I'm trying to get that all together and then I would launch it. I think I need a little more time to do that. Not much, maybe another month or two, and then it will be ready to go. I want to have a lot of that stuff kind of in my back pocket before. I don't want to be scrambling to think of, well, who am I going to get next week? I'm talking to my friends and see who could come in. I know a lot of runners who could talk about different things and physical therapists and people that I just stay in touch with forever. So once I get a couple of months ahead of me, maybe six months ahead, and then I'll be ready to launch it.

Andy Guttormsen (39:11):

I totally get wanting to having your content laid out. I would say you don't need six months though. You could almost over prepare from a content perspective, because what'll actually happen is you'll bring those folks in and you'll start to get really good ideas from them. They'll contribute to the content. But I think your approach is totally right. Let's say you want to have every other week, or maybe you want to do it every week for the first month or two months. That's eight expert trainings right there. Who are your first eight experts? Then maybe you have six of them lined up, five lined up, and three are going to be voted on from the community. So you can nail that. Next thing, I'm going to create some type of accountability group. Exactly what you talked about. Maybe there's a prompt each week that we catch up on. How did the week go?

(40:04):

How was my plan, all of that. Then you've got to set up your onboarding flow. That's like one day. You can set that up in a day. All that onboarding is a system, really is what it is. But you can do this in 30 days I would say pretty well. What I think a lot of people kind of mess up with their communities, we did this benchmark report. We literally looked at data from 10,000 communities, all behind the scenes, what's actually working. We all have opinions, but sometimes just nice to look at what's the actual data telling us without any bias. And the number one mistake people made was that they had way too many, what we call spaces in their community, too much stuff going on instead of just focusing people on a signature gathering. So instead of adding the extra things, I would only hone in on those two to three signature gatherings and make those really great.

Joe Rando (41:00):

So is the idea that you're watering it down

Andy Guttormsen (41:03):

Exactly.

Joe Rando (41:04):

You're watering it down by having too many places to go. So it feels like you're alone wherever you go. That makes a lot of sense.

Andy Guttormsen (41:11):

It dilutes it. Yeah, for sure and it distracts because if you're putting all the value into those two to three signature gatherings and everything else is kind of just "eh". Give people the absolute best product and nothing else.

(41:25):

What you could say is, maybe you're four weeks in. How is what we have going? Then also, by the way, here were some other ideas for a signature gatherings that we were going to have. You don't have to call them signature gatherings, obviously, but you say, these are some other things we're thinking about. Right now we're doing this challenge, we're doing the expert training, and we're doing the accountability groups. We're thinking about adding one of these three or four things over here. What does everybody want? And get their feedback on it.

Carly Ries (41:54):

I don't have a community to start, but I want to now figure out community to start. I feel so inspired, and I'm like, I have all this information. Nothing to do with it right now. I need to channel it somewhere.

Stacy Blette (42:10):

Carly, I'll send you an invite to mine. Don't worry.

Carly Ries (42:12):

Okay, thank you. Well, Andy, this has been so great. Stacy, I'm sure you have consumed just as much nugget. Oh, all my notes. I hope I didn't look awkward on screen. I've had my phone out in front of me and I've been putting it in front of Andy's grid to make it look like I was looking at Andy and not taking notes when really I was taking notes because there was just so much good information. So listeners, viewers, if you saw me doing that, I was trying to be smooth, and it may or may not have worked out like that.

(42:49):

But Andy, we cannot thank you enough for coming on today. Stacy, we are so happy you are here as well. Andy, if people want to learn more about you or more about Circle, where can they find you?

Andy Guttormsen (43:02):

Sure. Go to Circle.so We just launched this community. We're calling it Community Benchmark Report. It's kind of like the behind the scenes data from our 10,000 communities. You should check that out. I think it'll give you a headstart

Carly Ries (43:14):

And give me some inspiration of what community I want to build. Hit the ground running. Well, this has been so great. Thank you both so much. Listeners and viewers, we love helping you. It's one of the highlights of our day. We want to do this forever. And to do that, please be sure to subscribe. Please be sure to leave us a five star review. We would really appreciate it. With that being said, have a wonderful day and we will see you next week on Solopreneur the One-Person business. Take care.

Closing (43:47):

You may be going solo in business, but that doesn't mean you're alone. In fact, millions of people are in your shoes running a one person business and figuring it out as they go. So why not connect with them and learn from each other's successes and failures? At Lifestarr, we're creating a one person business community where you can go to meet and get advice from other solopreneurs. Be sure to join in on the conversations at community.lifestarr.com.

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