- “The difference between bootstrapping and taking on investors is your own awareness of what kind of company you want to build, and why you want to build it that way.”– Bernard [37:57]
- “The biggest problem is that a lot of people think that content should do it all.”– Bernard [9:12]
- “You should do it all in the early stages because you do need to know who your target audience is.”– Bernard [12:40]
How to Write Dominating SEO Ranking Content + How to Successfully Bootstrap Your Business
SEO has for a long time been a defining factor when it comes to content marketing for brands. It is crucial for ranking on that coveted first page of Google search results. But what if you’re doing it wrong by thinking it will do it all to market your brand?
In this episode of the Page One Podcast, Luke Peters speaks with Bernard Huang, the co-founder at Clearscope. Clearscope is an AI-powered platform that helps brands create higher quality content and drive more organic traffic. He explains the importance of creating highly relevant content that targets the right audience on specific platforms.
Listen in to learn why Google is set on promoting user intent and converting content rather than clickable content. You will also learn about the difference between bootstrapping your business and taking on an investor.
- Factors to consider when thinking SEO for your product that goes beyond the content you put out.
- Understanding Google’s future SEO strategy that will highly depend on user experience and results.
- How to overcome the competitive barrier by choosing an underserved niche that is SEO focused.
- How to successfully bootstrap your business rather than take on investors.
- [1:43] Bernard explains how Clearscope helps check if your content has accurately covered the subject matter.
- [4:34] How to align your content with user intent and Google to have higher chances of ranking on the first page.
- [7:16] Why content won’t do it all to help rank your product in search.
- [10:23] The factors to put into consideration when creating content for your brand, especially in its early stage.
- [14:49] Understanding the mistakes you should avoid when creating content for your brand.
- [18:54] Bernard explains what Google’s present and future look like for SEO and content searchability.
- [27:35] He narrates a story of one of his clients who successfully chose a less competitive niche to market his brand through content.
- [32:23] Bernard’s advice of whether to bootstrap or take on investment when looking to grow your business.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Page 1 Podcast, a podcast featuring a variety of guests and thought leaders on topics ranging from digital marketing, sales channel strategies, influencer marketing, best in class product launches and all the details about how to accelerate sales. Now here’s your host Luke Peters.
Luke Peters: Thanks for joining us on the Page 1 Podcast. I’m your host, Luke Peters, CEO of Newair Appliances and Retail Band digital strategy agency. Business owners, do you wish you had an expert advisor to help you grow your brand online, direct to consumer and also grow sales on Amazon, Wayfair, Home Depot, and other online channels? If you do, that’s what we do. So if you want to grow your digital sales, find me on LinkedIn or email me at email@example.com. In this episode, you’re going to learn from Bernard Huang co-founder of Clearscope on how to write better content, dominate SEO rankings, and product rankings, and how to successfully bootstrap a business startup. Bernard’s a co-founder of Clearscope and SEO software is a service designed to help content creators drive more organic traffic. Bernard is known for his persistence love of risk-taking and exploring the unknown. Bernard welcome to the Page 1 Podcast.
Bernard Huang: Luke thanks for having me.
Luke Peters: Awesome. And just so the audience knows, we use the product, it’s great. It helps with blogs and really understanding how to get them to rank better. And Bernard, if you don’t mind, if you just tell us a little bit about Clearscope, what it does, and how it can help product brand owners.
Bernard Huang: Totally. So Clearscope is a content quality checking tool that uses natural language processing to figure out whether or not your content has done a good job covering your subject matter. You could imagine if you’re writing a piece of content on a air conditioning unit. You will likely talk about air filters and electricity usage. So our software scan to see how well your content has addressed those and [inaudible 00:02:16] and objective metrics that say, “You talked about air conditioning units and you didn’t talk about paper filters, or voltage,” or that kind of stuff [inaudible 00:02:26]. Perhaps the piece of content is not as good as you think it is, so you should and improve it. So that’s it, we were used on a lot of thousand different organizations at this point. And people have been driving great results since Google has now done a lot better job in looking at how content quality works.
Luke Peters: Well that’s a great intro. And also just to make everybody listening a little bit jealous, we all got our warehouses full of inventory and we have to create these larger organizations and with the software as a service product, Bernard’s able to serve a thousand companies with four people. So I do have to admit I’m a little jealous. And I know Roland Frasier, previous guest on this podcast is a huge advocate in just the exponential way that software as a service can grow. So that’s awesome and congrats on getting to that high of a customer level. That’s pretty awesome.
Bernard Huang: Yeah. No, I appreciate it. Definitely why I suppose software is so valued by both venture capital and text valuation these days. You’re able to do quite a bit with quite a little, but at the same time, I think that what the problem is, is if your barrier to entry is too low, then you’re going to see the market flooded by clones alternatives, sort of this like gold rush that we’re actually seeing within our space right now.
Luke Peters: That makes sense. Yeah, you got to differentiate and make something that’s useful and I guess build a moat. Cool. So listen, everybody knows this episode, we’re going to focus on how everybody can improve their content. As brand owners and that’s who’s listening to this podcast, we’re creating content and putting it on other people’s sites like Home Depot, and Amazon, and so forth. We’re also creating our own websites and our own blogs and our own social media. And I think Clearscope is focused on our blogs. Would that be correct Bernard?
Bernard Huang: Yeah. So if you’re to think about the direction that search engine optimization is heading, you can imagine that Google ultimately wants to serve a user a piece of content that has the highest likelihood of concluding the search journey. Now that in a more simple way, if I were to Google refrigerator, Google want the result number one, to have the highest chance that I click on it and never go back to Google and search refrigerator again. So this is why you see ranking shifts up and down over the course of many weeks or months or years for particular searches. And at the end of the day, then at least when it relates to Clearscope, we are focused around the text on the page. Now in a very simplistic way, you could think that if somebody were searching for refrigerator, the text on the page for the value of that text is going to be slightly different because the user is likely going to care a lot more about user generated content than product photography, and perhaps brand reputation like that.
Bernard Huang: So it’s going to be less effective because the text on the page is to be less of what the user wants. Now you could imagine if instead I’m typing into Google, how to choose a refrigerator, then we could kind of surmise the text on the page on a guide of choosing the refrigerator would be way more valuable. So generally speaking we see Clearscope have a lot bigger impact on search queries that are a little bit more research-based or informational because what the user wants in that kind of query is more text dependent than a high-level product category or product listing related search [inaudible 00:06:41].
Luke Peters: Yeah. That’s actually a great comment. I hope everybody got that and rewind that if you didn’t, but if you’re creating content, focus on that research content because just like Bernard said, user intent and aligning that with Google and you may have a higher chance at ranking and you’re kind of solving a search problem, I guess for that searcher. Awesome. So that’s going to be the focus. We’re going to hopefully get a quick tutorial from Bernard, how you all can dominate SEO and product rankings. Why don’t we just kind of start off in general terms, Bernard, and how should brand owners think about SEO?
Bernard Huang: Yeah. So brand owners should think about SEO as one of many channels to tackle. I think that when you’re going from this consumer packaged good and physical product world to digital, it’s pretty easy or overwhelming when you start thinking about the different possibilities that you could get your product into the hands of more consumers. And a lot of the time people tend to believe that they need to do it all. So the problem that we generally see is that the product owners or product brands are going to look at a piece of content and say, “This should be thought leadership, it should be able to go viral on Facebook, or this can then be turned into an Instagram post. And then it should also rank well for search.” And I do not think that that is how you should think about SEO.
Bernard Huang: I think you should take a look at SEO and say, “Okay, if you’re introducing a product that has a defined category, search is great for you,” right? If you’re going to make a more energy efficient, better refrigerator, then absolutely there’s hundreds of thousands of people every month searching for refrigerators. Now, if you’re going to create this new thing where you can put it around your head and it’s like social distancing, but it’s not quite a face mask, you don’t even know what category it falls under. Then you probably shouldn’t think as much about SEO because that’s not a defined category. Yeah, so I think the biggest problem is that a lot of people think that content should do it all. And I think that taking a step back and really asking yourself the question, where does my target audience live and are they performing searches for a particular category that my product can service? And that’s the best way to think about SEO.
Luke Peters: Perfect, and I do think, like you said, that’s how people should think. And I think good CMOs think that way, they understand the paid part. And you brought up a nice nuance, which is, if it’s a totally brand new category, that’s different than an existing one with a huge search potential. So great example there. Who should be writing the content? So again, brand owners, some of them are sophisticated. They’ve already got their teams set up. Others are still focused on just selling on Amazon and they haven’t really built out their D to C yet. So when they do build it out, should they be hiring internally to make that content? Should they be outsourcing? If they should outsource, where can they outsource from and how do they train a good writer who’s outsourced?
Bernard Huang: Yeah. So that’s a wonderfully great question. I think there’s a lot of different dimensions that you can approach it. In short, I’m going to say it depends. In the longer end term then what does it depend on? So number one stage of your company, are you pre product market fit? Are you trying to get something off the ground? Number two is the style of how large your inventory is. So are you selling a one product line or are you selling multiple product lines? And I would say the other dimension that it’s going to hinge upon is we’ll call it counter strength or general friction when it comes to this particular field. So you can imagine that some people are very brand or design focused. And in those particular product line that the overall content on the page is [inaudible 00:11:34] to an extreme degree, because what the brand is selling is not just a refrigerator but a way of feeding the family, something like that, right?
Bernard Huang: And if that’s the overall general direction that you want to brand your product, then you better don’t do that in house, right? You’re never going to be able to hand off the value proposition, creation process and the story and the narrative that you want to try to anybody and expect to get back anything remotely good. That said, there’s probably some branding or advertising agencies out there that you could pay an arm and a leg to make that happen, which is also why the fate of your company is another important consideration. Again, if you’re trying to get something off the ground, chances are you either do it all person, the person that’s wearing all of the hats. So you take the product photos, you write the content, you do it all. And you should, in my opinion, do it all, in the early stages. Because you do need to know who your target audience is, but more specifically how they want to be marketed to, or the kinds of content that they want to consume, and also where they want to consume it.
Bernard Huang: Again, right, is it performing a Google search because it is a defined category or is it because their friends shared it on Facebook? And it was a thoughtful piece on something completely new that their friend was just really excited about. So I really think that it depends. But long story, very short in the early days, I’m a believer that you should do it yourself. In the later days, I think in my opinion, it boils down to what kind of product brand you want to be building. And if you want to go down a different approach where content is a lifestyle, like maybe the Everlane or the huckleberries or something like that kind of ring a bell to me.
Bernard Huang: It’s like, what they’re trying to sell is not just [inaudible 00:13:56], they’re trying to sell freedom and identity. And in those cases you got to do it in house, in my opinion. However, right, if you’re creating a more energy efficient, lower cost, better refrigerator than the specifications of the refrigerator, speak for itself. So therefore contracting out content to different agencies or outsourced help makes a lot more sense. And I think that that’s the distinction that makes the most sense to me.
Luke Peters: Perfect. Yeah, and that’s great. So, when that level of creativity is really high and you’re protecting the brand, you got to do it in house. Otherwise you can contract out. Glad you brought up those two different examples. Quickly, what are the two to three mistakes that you see from brands when they create content?
Bernard Huang: Yeah, I think we’ve kind of been loosely dancing around just based on our conversation so far. But number one, to put it into a precise sentence, thinking that content is supposed to do [inaudible 00:15:05], that is a huge mistake that we see product brands do all the time. Again, they try to merge thought leadership into social vitality, into search engine optimization content. And you realize that B2B companies… that is not at all what you do. You say, “Okay, this one is going to be optimized for LinkedIn as a post,” and promote it in that way. And that’s the LinkedIn post. And then it [inaudible 00:15:34] drives traffic to a landing page where you collect the prospect information.
Luke Peters: So you got to be really specific?
Bernard Huang: Exactly. In that same way you, you go and you say, |”Okay, well what works on Facebook is probably different, slightly different than what works on Instagram and what works on Instagram.” And what works on Instagram is probably quite different than what works on Twitter. And understanding the nuances of each one of those different channels, and then crafting the right content to hit each one of those channels is one of the biggest mistakes that I do see made. The other mistake is also, we touched upon it earlier, but this idea that you got to do it all to succeed, and that is not at all true.
Bernard Huang: I think what you need to do is to pass all of the different channel in a somewhat rigorous, but more qualitative way, and then understand which ones work for you. And then instead of trying to do everything at say five channels at 20%, understand that one channel is going to be your 80%. And quadrupling down on that one channel is going to be what takes you from zero to one or one to 10 in terms of your revenue. And then after you’ve gotten that down like a T, sure you can start investing in other channels, but thinking that you got to do it all, or wanting to do it all from the get-go is certainly a very big mistake.
Luke Peters: Yep. That makes a lot of sense. And I can just got to chime in really quick. You said zero to one. Zero to one by Peter Thiel the book, amazing book. So for everybody listening, if you guys want to check that one out, great concept, and the guy he’s really brilliant. Cool. Bernard, so a lot of these brands that are listening are talking about, maybe, or they’re thinking about improving their DTC experience. They’re thinking about a blog and they’re probably thinking about it directed towards Google. It’s great that you kind of brought up those examples though, because obviously now in the world’s so different people are consuming content on Facebook and all the other social media platforms, but thinking of Google and thinking of rankings, Google to rank on Google, you obviously have to have off-site signals like, maybe your site’s being mentioned a lot in social media, or links are going to do it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, those are harder to control.
Luke Peters: And then you have the stuff on page you can control, like all of the key words in the URL and all this kind of stuff. What has changed in the last five years? I’m going to go out a little bit further just because I don’t follow Google’s changes so closely now as I used to, but I mean what’s really important on page, for example, is having the keyword in the URL really important? Is title tags really important, or has Google kind of demoted that stuff and just wanted there to be a more natural approach to content creation.
Bernard Huang: You are at the Holy grail of a question-
Luke Peters: [crosstalk 00:18:58] Oh no-
Bernard Huang: … optimization. But no, no, I just had to say it’s a good question. It’s a good question. I think historically speaking Google’s algorithm has been the blackest of boxes. Yeah, people could poke holes in the box or find loopholes, essentially in the algorithm. They would basically run a huge range of websites across multiple different industries and test different assumptions that they would have on each one of the different websites. This is at least what a lot of the best search engine optimization folks were doing. And back then it was all about backlinks. And backlinks, if you’re not that familiar with search engine optimization is just a website A linked to website B. Now you could imagine that a lot of people would catch on to website A links to website B. So they say, “Oh, well, why wouldn’t we just spin up something that [inaudible 00:19:59] forums for example, with website now A through 1000 there A through Z and have them all linked to website B?”
Bernard Huang: And so Google would say, “Okay, well, we’re going to plug that [inaudible 00:20:12],” as Google tends to do by saying, it matters what website A is. If it’s the New York Times, it’s worth a lot. If it’s Bernard’s blog.com that nobody cares about, then it’s basically worth nothing. And so this idea of trading guest posts for sponsored posts has become a thing. So lots of people are Forbes contributors, Huffington Post contributors, and a lot of them are selling link placement. You could hit up some people who broker these deals and you’d be like, “Oh, okay. Forbes is a very authoritative website and getting a placement on Forbes is worth $5,000 or something. So you just pony up the money and then somebody would place a link to whatever you wanted it links to. And then Google obviously is trying to defend against that loophole.
Bernard Huang: So constantly speaking then it’s been a tug of war between people who are in search engine optimization and Google sending off search engine optimization tactics and tricks So that’s the back story. And then approach this at the highest level possible, because I think it’s important to think about search in the highest level possible. I think Google has now gotten to enough A, collection of user data, right? Because we all basically have Google, or Gmail, or YouTube accounts. So they’re just spying on all of us, who is using their services. And B, actually has the machine learning and computing power to put all of this data to use. So ultimately what I’m seeing happen, and there have been quite a few experiments that have proven this idea, is Google wants to know how many people are actually getting what they needed when they perform the search. So you can imagine I do a search for refrigerators, you see Amazon show up as number one, Home Depot show up at number two, say Newair shows up at number three, something like that, right?
Bernard Huang: So Google is going to say, “Okay, well, what percentage out of this experimental data sets that I’m giving this search engine result page to click on Amazon?” And then, “Okay, well, how many of them come back to Google? How many of them are going to Home Depot? How many of those come back to Google?” And click on Newair. And I’m just going to have some mathematical equation that figures out, “Okay, this then as a search engine result page had a 25% chance of giving the user what they need.” The next week, you can imagine Google’s going to switch Home Depot and Amazon. Newair is still three, right? And say, “Okay, now this is what happened.” And if that next week they find out that Home Depot is above Amazon at a 30% conclusion rate, then they’re going to say, “Okay, well, Home Depot is better than Amazon,” and that’s going to be the new search results moving forward.
Bernard Huang: So that said, you’re starting to think about search as this idea where, what rank is what does the best job meeting the needs of the searcher. You start delving into this idea of what a search query is there, right? And you’ll see this hints of these showing up. If you search for plumbers, guess what, you got a local map. So Google is saying, “Oh, you want plumbers near you? Of course. So that’s what we’re going to give you. If you search for how to surf, you’re going to get a video. It’s going to be like a YouTube video and say, “Hey, watch this three minute clip on how to surf.” Because Google is saying, “Look, if you want it to learn how to surf, a video is going to do a much better job.” So that’s to say that SEO then falls under the classification of what does the search query deserve. And for product brands, a lot of it is going to come down to product photography, brand recognition, user generated reviews and photos. And a lot less of it is going to be, did you select the right key words?
Bernard Huang: Did you use them into your URL? Obviously, if you didn’t use them in your… at least your title tag, then you would have no chance, not no chance, but you would have a very, a lot harder chance to show up. But at the end of the day, you can pick all of the keywords in your title tag and URL. But if you didn’t produce the right on-page experience to match what the intent of the user was, then you would also have a really hard chance. So I guess that’s my long winded way of saying it really does depend, but for product brands, it’s going to view toward unique product photography, user generated content. The FAQ thing that shows up on Amazon, that one seems to be really useful as well, because people will be like, “Oh, can I use a seven volt battery or something?” Then people would be like, “No, you cannot do that.” “Okay, well then that won’t work for my system or whatever.” Yeah.
Luke Peters: Yeah. I mean, that’s a really thoughtful answer and I hope everybody followed that all the way through because you gave a quick history of SEO and how people try to scam it and… And look in the beginning those were all the people I was hanging out with. It was actually a lot of fun. You’re trying to… it’s kind of like you’re behind the scenes trying to figure out how you can rank better. And then some of your sites all of a sudden get banned and then you got to get them unbanned. And it was actually a really, really fun time. The early 2000s, all the way through, say 2010 or 12, but it was a really fun time in internet history. And then Google got a lot smarter and you go through that.
Luke Peters: But the bottom line is, we got to make content that is great for the user because that’s what Google wants. They want that great user experience. And I actually really like your answer because you brought up the fact that, hey, get that great photography going, get that user generated content which often can be users with amazing photography from Instagram or whatever influencer marketers that you can then utilize in your content and your brand and review. So I think that’s actually really smart. So instead of what is going to be the recipe and this is kind of the purpose of this podcast today, and this discussion, everybody that’s listening, the recipe is that.
Luke Peters: Make something that’s great so that user doesn’t bounce and track your bounce rates because bounce rates are going to really hurt your signals back to Google. If people are going to your page and they’re just bouncing. Of course you can track all of that in Google analytics. So, cool. Is there a quick story you can share, something quick where you saw a client really grow their traffic from a small level to a high level and just maybe share how they did that?
Bernard Huang: Sure. Yeah. So we had a agency, a content agency actually in the early days, and they were one of our first customers actually at Clearscope. The agency would be called Growth Machine. And Growth Machine at the time actually did a whole lot of the SEO content work for brands like perfect Keto, the Keto movement, kettle and fire, the bone broth movement. And they were just really good at e-commerce space SEO. And one day the founder, Nat Eliason, just decides that he’s going to make a blog about tea because he inspected the competitive landscape of key content out there and just found it to be fairly lackluster. And so he goes from zero monthly search traffic from Google to 150,000 hits per month in organic traffic in eight months.
Luke Peters: Wow, that’s huge.
Bernard Huang: And what he did was he just simply focused on again, the fundamentals, right? So the content ecosystem of tea when he entered was fairly nascent, right? People just didn’t really put that much effort into it. And he would go around creating a lot of them. The listicle stuff that you see, right? That green tea, that long tea, how to steep your tea, all of that stuff. And then he attacked an e-commerce on top of now very successful tea blog. So right back to some of the earlier concepts that we’re talking about, he thought about it at first as [inaudible 00:29:29]. He says, “There’s a lot of people who are searching for tea.” And that inherently makes sense because it is an existing category where people are for tea. And he says, “Okay, I have a strength, a competitive advantage in creating a [inaudible 00:29:48] driven content, because that’s what I’ve done for a lot of different brands. So why don’t I just do that for myself?”
Bernard Huang: And so that’s it, right, he just excelled at exactly what he did. And had a competitive advantage in that. And that’s where we see a lot of product brands struggle because honestly, a lot of them shouldn’t really qualify for SEO as much as you might think that they do. If you’re obviously in a classical category like tea or shoes or shirt. Sure, but at the same time, it’s going to be very hard for you to break the barrier on shoes because you’re competing against Nike, and Walmart, and all of these other very, very authoritative brands. So his idea was to find a niche that was uncompetitive because when you actually searched for tea back then there wasn’t a Walmart of tea. I mean, these days there’s more of like DavidsTea and that kind of stuff. But honestly, if you look around in the tea industry, it’s still kind of fairly [inaudible 00:31:04], if you will. And so now is it just an underserved niche that was actually purely SEO focused and he pulled it off extraordinarily well.
Luke Peters: Well, listen, that’s a good lesson because I’ve talked to so many different brand owners. I mean, on this podcast, or just friends, or just people in the industry at industry shows. And you guys there’s so many unique products out there, even though when you’re in that business, they’re looking around and they see competitors, but still a lot of these products are not all mainstream, but they found a way to be successful. But they’re not taking advantage of their online potential search traffic that they could be getting. So I think it’s a great example. And it’s something that a lot of the brand owners listening right now can think about and apply to their brands.
Luke Peters: Listen, I’m glad we went through all those stories and hopefully gave everybody a good foundation on SEO, and how to think about SEO, and blog writing. And Bernard, I just want to quickly finish just because we definitely have a range of listeners, but you bootstrapped your business, you’ve kept it lean. You guys are super successful and continue to grow. What advice would you give young entrepreneurs on how they should bootstrap and also whether they should take on investors or not?
Bernard Huang: Yeah, that’s a very challenging question for sure. I think that right before bootstrapping Clearscope, I had raised some amounts of money at a previous startup that I started. And honestly it didn’t go anywhere but I got to learn on somebody else’s dime by raising that money. Now, fast forward five years from then, we launched Clearscope and then fast forward another four years from then, we’re doing well, but I would not have been able to necessarily get to where I’ve gotten to without all of those different experiences. So I think if I were to say, should you bootstrap, or should you take on investors? A lot of it as a young entrepreneur, I totally didn’t get this concept, but a lot of it has to do with two main criteria. Number one is total addressable market. So you can imagine that there are seven billion people on this world.
Bernard Huang: Well, how many of those billions of people does your product or service potentially serve, and how much money could you potentially make by serving that market? That’s really important when you’re thinking about bootstrapping or taking on investment. And then I would say the other dimension that matters a lot is winner take all mentality. So winner take all mentality is, if your product or service were to take off in the market, is the market a winner take all sort of ecosystem where everybody either uses you because of network effects. You could think like Facebook or not. So those are the two keys in essence. If you’re really thinking objectively about bootstrapping or taking on investment. So the biggest problem that we see is actually in the former, [inaudible 00:34:40] which is the total addressable market. A lot of people will go and they’ll raise money and they’ll say, “Okay, all right. I’ve raised $10 million, $15 million, and I’m going to go and make a $1 billion business because that’s what investors typically want you to do.
Bernard Huang: But the problem is if you’ve raised $15 million and you’ve sold say like 80% of your company at that point, and your total addressable market is really only $50 million. Well, you basically just sold the entire account, and then [inaudible 00:35:17], right? So there was this misjudgment both on the investors part to be fair, but also on your part of thinking that there was more pie to be had. And when you sold them a huge chunk of your business, you actually ended up walking away sometimes with absolutely nothing. So a lot of people get disillusioned because investors at least in the last let’s say, five to 10 years have been kind of greedy, right? And they just been like, “Yeah I mean you can, this is a $10 billion company,” or whatever and encouraging the founders and entrepreneurs take wild swing for epic unicorn home run kind of stuff.
Bernard Huang: And I think that the recent couple of years, like the WeWorK sort of debacle and you can see Uber’s market cap was not nearly as high as investors thought that it would be at least for now. That you kind of get a little bit slap on the butt for taking on so much money. So objective, right, those are going to be the criteria that I would recommend that you think about. The other one being of course, winner takes all is this concept of competitive mode, right? Are you in an industry where if it does take off, then the winner does take all of it. In which case, usually raising money is going to act as fuel for your fire. And the more that you can raise you block out, then your competitors from taking your fuel from the fire. I would say more importantly, outside of those two objectives, like rationale, it’s more of just what you want out of your business, right?
Bernard Huang: At the end of the day, we can look at those two objective things and say, “Great, whatever,” but really startup is challenging, right? There’s a reason why on a 90%, 95% of all startups fail for all kinds of different reasons. But I would say based on my experience, just working with a lot of different founders and talking with a lot of founders, it’s oftentimes morale and motivation. If you’re doing something for all the wrong reasons, I wouldn’t say [inaudible 00:37:35], that’s a challenging way of putting it. But if you’re doing things for reasons that are superstitious. Like, “I make a lot of money, startups are cool,” or whatever, then you’re going to have a lot more of a difficult time working through the hard part.
Bernard Huang: And there are going to be lots and lots of hard parts. So really, I think the difference between bootstrapping and taking on investors is your own awareness of what kind of company you want to build and why you want to build it in that way. And for some people making a butt ton of money and going on and succeeding and crushing everyone is a very motivating aspect of what they thrive on. And if that’s the case, go through that, whatever, right? But if it’s more of just this deeper sense of fulfillment and passion that drives you, then that’s where I would encourage you to probably bootstrap rather than take on investors.
Luke Peters: That’s a great answer. And I really like how you get into the total addressable market and details around that. And I think even for a lot of young entrepreneurs, look, it’s fine to create a lifestyle business. One that kicks off cash. It doesn’t have to take on the world and then some people want to take on the world. Bt why not create a lifestyle high EBITDA, high margin business in that case, just like you talked about, it may not be huge and taking on investors could be a big mistake in that example. I think it’s great. It was a detailed answer and hopefully people that are kind of going back and forth on that, they can rewind and I think get some nice wisdom out of that. Listen, Bernard, I really want to thank you for being a guest on the Page 1 Podcast. I enjoy catching up with you. It’s been awesome. How can listeners find more about you, learn more about Clearscope?
Bernard Huang: Yeah. Let’s say you can go to the website, clearscope.io, or you can send me a tweet at @bernardjhuang. Those are going to be the best ways to get in touch. Fairly open with chatting and helping out when and where I can.
Luke Peters: Yeah, and I can just tell you guys firsthand Bernard is the nicest guy in the world. So if you need this product, he’s a great guy to talk to and he can show you how to use it and really give you a boost on your blogs. I want to thank everybody for listening to this episode of the Page 1 Podcast sponsored by Retail Band. Hope you all enjoyed the interview today. Truly appreciate your reviews on iTunes and hope you join us for Next interview.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Page 1 Podcast with Luke Peters. If you enjoyed this episode, please help us out by leaving us a rating on iTunes. Want to double your online sales, check out www.retailband.com. And don’t forget to join us next week with our next amazing guest.
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Contact Bernard Huang: LinkedIn