In this LMScast episode, Brian Casel shares online coaching business tips using Clarityflow. Brian discusses Clarityflow, formerly known as ZipMessage. The Clarityflow platform was initially developed as ZipMessage, an asynchronous messaging solution. After a year in business, they decided to rename the company Clarityflow and focus on the coaching market.
Brian Casel is the founder of Clarityflow, a well-known software creator, businessman, and entrepreneur with expertise in internet business and coaching. Initially, Clarityflow served as a versatile platform used for various purposes, including hiring, teaching, podcasting, remote teams, coaching, and sales teams.
Brian conducted 50 interviews with coaches as part of the rebranding process to gain a deeper understanding of their needs. During this research, he discovered that coaches were not only using Clarityflow for asynchronous coaching but also for course management, group coaching, and payment processing. In response to these findings, Clarityflow added more features in 2023 to fully meet the demands of coaches.
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Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program, I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.
Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special guest and friend. It’s Brian Casel. You can find him on Twitter. He’s a cast jam. He’s got a great Twitter account. I’ve been following it for, I don’t know how long I’ve listened to Brian on his podcast bootstrap web for a long time.
And he’s a awesome software creator and fellow entrepreneur, but also great at helping other entrepreneurs start and scale. Welcome to the show, Brian.
Brian Casel: Hey, Chris, how’s it going?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, I’m excited to get into it with you and you I’ve always enjoyed our chats. We’re just on a similar wavelength and you’ve given me a lot of good business advice.
I was actually just talking with my partner, Jason Coleman, the other day about We had this a theme launchpad that we were thinking of sunsetting. And we had plans to ultimately build a new theme to go with lifter LMS. And you were like, why? Why? Get rid of a product you already have that’s functional.
And it was like really good advice. And it took us a long time to get the new theme built, but, you always have your instincts are strong. So just props for that
Brian Casel: Chris you, and I have connected like so many times, dude, it’s been a long time since we’ve known each other, probably like 10 years now, something like that.
Yeah. And I don’t actually remember that specific conversation, but it sounds like something I probably said
Chris Badgett: it was in a hot tub in Cabo. So that’s probably why
Brian Casel: after several beers. Yep. Yep.
Chris Badgett: But you have a, software clarity flow, which a lot of this, you out there watching or listening if you’re into coaching and this whole challenge of.
Relationships like coaching, isn’t just content, it’s conversation. And so that’s it. Clarity flow. com. And then your content side and coaching yourself is an instrumental products. com. But let’s talk about clarity. That’s your new thing. Let’s talk about ClarityFlow first. What problem do you solve there?
And I know you solve several, but what, was the seed of the idea for ClarityFlow? Yeah.
Brian Casel: ClarityFlow really evolved a lot. Like it was, it’s been really different. So I’ve been running ClarityFlow for, now three full years now. And it started as a different name. It started under the name ZipMessage.
And almost a year ago like at the beginning of this year in 2023, we rebranded from zip message to clarity flow. But starting from 6 months before, so middle of 2022 was when we did a big really I did, but I have a small team working with me, but I, did a lot of research with our customers and we dialed into coaches.
So early on when it was zip message, it was really just this like asynchronous. Messaging tool that was used just really broadly in a bunch of different ways, right? Like we saw coaches using it. We saw remote teams using it, we saw sales teams, we saw podcasters using it for async stuff. We saw hiring use cases, teaching and all, this different stuff.
And, then really became clear in our second year, like in 2021, that or as we got into 2022, that we really do need to set up sort of niche down and figure out who we are building for and who we’re serving best. And Through a couple of early customer research conversations, it became clear that, like, all right, the segment who are using it for coaching, they are by far our best customer because they rely on it the most.
They use it most in the core of their business, whereas the other use cases, they got some value from it, but it was periphery. It was like they could easily pick it up, put it down, swap it out. It’s not a big deal in their business, but for coaches, it was like the way that they actually communicate with their clients.
So that became clear. And then I did 50 more customer research interviews with coaches to really understand. Where does this actually fit in your stack? And through those interviews, I learned it’s yes, they use it for asynchronous coaching, like asynchronous sending and receiving messages, camera and audio only messages with their clients and texts.
But they. But so many coaches also have a course or also have a coaching group, and they do a lot of group cohorts and they try to duct tape our tool against so many other different tools. And then, of course, there’s payments, right? Selling your coaching packages, selling access to your coaching groups and cohorts and things.
So through that, through all that research, I realized okay, we should really build a cohesive. Platform for a coach to build all those pieces together under 1 group. Actually, this month in December next week, we are launching clarity flow commerce, which is our payments feature. And so that sort of caps off this whole year where, we went from just being an async communications tool, that’s still the core of what we are.
But we’ve added on the ability to run courses, the ability to have community spaces, and now finally the ability to actually excel and integrate your Stripe account and do all that. So, it’s so this year, like this month, we actually finished that big roadmap of becoming the full product vision for ClarityFlow.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I know there’s this business advice, like you should put your customer at the center of your product, not your business or not your product. And that’s like a well executed okay, we’ve got this coach avatar. What do they need? What do people want? They want one tool to rule them all.
Like they don’t want a million different things to duct tape
Brian Casel: together. I think it depends on the tool. I think not every tool has to be everything. But I think in my case, like hearing enough. Use cases are enough stories from coaches who are trying to do that, like duct tape thing.
And we have a really good Zapier integration. You could do certain integrations, but in our case, it became clear that it’s still, that doesn’t solve the problem because they’re, because the client, like the coach’s client, they don’t want to have to deal with like multiple logins to different tools and jumping between like, all right, I paid my coach over here.
Then I’m joining the coaching group community over on this platform. I’m getting the courses and the library frameworks over there. And then I’m communicating over here. That’s three, four different tools. They, want a cohesive experience for their clients. So that’s. That’s what we put
Chris Badgett: together.
I ended up in a similar place with Lifter LMS. I built, I was really into courses and the technology and, then like over time, it’s taken me a long time to figure out the avatar and there’s actually several and WordPress makes it challenging because people, it’s so componentized, people do all kinds of stuff with it.
But if you were advising a, new starting entrepreneur.
Brian Casel: What’s
Chris Badgett: there’s like it’s there’s the advice that you should always focus on the avatar But is there like what would you advise which way like if you’re really into a certain technology or niche? Should you just go for it and figure out the avatar later or from day one?
Pick one and double down because the benefit of not picking one is over time It just emerges or a couple of them emerge and you get that, time just seeing what happens so that your assumptions can be challenged in the market will tell you. So sometimes it’s like different strategies
Brian Casel: there. I this, idea of niching down is, one of those business lessons that I, keep having to learn over and over again, the hard way.
Like zip message was not my first business. And for, whatever reason, I thought it, it would work by not niching down and just keeping it. Broad and it worked in the first year, but then, it became really clear in the second year. And look it’s, different for every business there, there, are multiple, there’s so many different ways to be successful.
You really have to just go with whatever. Make sense to you as the founder and whatever situation you have, but I know that’s a cop out. I’ll give you like, in my experience, what I found was yes we could find some customers by not niching down and just being like, yeah, we work for that.
And we work for that. We work for that. And on our marketing site, we had At one point we had something like six or seven different pages, like one that spoke to coaches, one that spoke to sales teams, one that spoke to everything. It eventually became easier in so many different ways to focus in on our ideal customer, the coach.
Number one, like the obvious ones are like marketing, right? So like the, website speaks to coaches, every headline that we write, every text, every email we’re speaking to a coach and we can speak directly to what they care about. So you’re not watering down your messaging. But I think to me what, became a lot more interesting is the, on the product side We went from being from not really having a clear direction on what we should build next.
What features are most important to build next? Because again, we were serving so many different use cases and it even eliminated a lot of interesting features from us being able to build them because it’s like, it’s too specific. Only a few people. Might use that, this or that feature. And I actually remember in the early, in the first year or two of zip message, I was, it was pretty haphazard in terms of choosing which features we build next.
It was like what sounds fun, Or maybe a couple of people asked for this. They happened to ask for it this month. All right, let’s build it this month. But then once I got into coaches and I got really, into the research on how exactly they use these different tools and coaches use.
Course tools and community tools in very different ways than a typical like online teacher uses them or even like these large communities like when using it for coaching. It’s very, specific. It’s more like a library of resources that they like hand pick and they give to their. To their clients and things and they want these like close, small membership coaching cohorts so I learned all those little details.
And then I, and then it became clear, like, all right, this feature is really important to coaches. Let’s do that first. And then this feature is really important to round out that stack for a coach and finish out that use case that comes next. And then the payments piece like comes after that, like this whole year of 2023 has
Elevate Your Online Coaching Business with Clarity Flow: been
Brian Casel: a very clear Sequence of features to, to get from like half built to like fully built product feature complete and it, just, every single feature became obvious, like, all right, this is what comes next
Chris Badgett: the coaching industry.
And I’m thinking particularly, I guess about business coaching has evolved and it’s not going away. Like it just continues to. Proliferate as a way to learn just in time, education, network with your peers and all these like coaching niches, I think of Tony Robbins is the first business coach in a way.
And he’s been around since I don’t know, I was a kid and late night tv commercials, life coaching and stuff like that.
Brian Casel: Yeah it was, it’s been eye opening for me. I, I’ve never personally been yeah. That connected to coaching in general I know many coaches and I, right now I work with a coach, but I, and I’ve different coaches over the years, but not, all the time.
And again, once I got into the research into this it, was pretty eye opening to see, like, how large this category really is. Because, yeah, like you were saying I’m familiar with business coaches. But it goes so far beyond that as it’s we see customers using clarity flow who are, we do get a lot of business coaches, but even within that, you’ve got like sales coaches, you’ve got executive coaches, you’ve got marketing coaches, product coaches.
And then we see life coaches. We see nutrition coaches, health and fitness. We see spirituality. And we, see a lot of music teachers using us. We see a lot of speech and language coaches. I’ve seen like pet training coaches parenting coaches, like relationships like that. There’s all these different areas where people hit like person to person, one person helping the other.
It’s like an age. It’s, been around for centuries. But what, and then there’s like different styles of coaching and the ones that really resonate with clarity flow tend to be the coaches who are, they probably do some one to one coaching, but they are looking to start to scale.
And to do that, they do it in one of two ways. One is they form, they get into more group coaching and usually in a form of like cohorts where it’s like, they’ll do a spring cohort and a summer cohort and a fall. And they’re moving to more asynchronous coaching, meaning. Instead of booking a lot of live 1 to 1 calls on your calendar you can still have face to face, like deep level coaching with video or audio only spoken or, text, but you can go back and forth on your own time.
And then when you combine that with groups, like that also opens the door to like. Coaches in Australia working with clients in America or Europe and Asia and like getting across time zones. When you take the live scheduling piece out of it, really opens up a lot of possibilities for a coach to scale their business and kind of take back a lot of their time yeah,
Chris Badgett: I know there’s all these niches and they do it a little differently, but if you were to put together a great coaching package, what would be the elements?
Like what’s in the box when somebody buys. A coaching page, a package that’s well designed.
Brian Casel: Yeah. We see a lot of different options. There’s, still the option to just do a straight like subscription, which is probably the most common way is like you some, flat monthly price.
Gives you sometimes they include live coaches, coaching, and sometimes they don’t, right? And, they just do asynchronous. Sometimes they offer both options. We have some coaches who like limit the number of asynchronous messaging every, month. And you can do that with clarity flow, but.
I find that it’s just easy, enough to say like X dollars a month. Unlimited. You have unlimited async access and the reality that, that might seem scary to offer unlimited access, but the reality is you can structure it so that a, like every request you only guarantee a response time of like.
Say 2 up to 2 business days or something like that. Asynchronous is not live. So it’s not like you have to be standing by the line and answer a call when it comes in. It just hits. You just have an inbox and then you can work your way through that inbox. At a time that, that makes sense.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And tell me more about like with ClarityFlow, there’s conversations, coaching programs, interactive courses, group spaces you’ve got the payments coming. What’s. Like you have the unlimited access as an example, but what else what do you do with all the old recordings?
How do you organize it? What do you save? What do you not save? How do you automate? Like you could have a reuse, like a welcome to the program message that goes out. That’s a big
Brian Casel: one. It’s like we, give you this thing we call the library. So you can build your library of template. Messages.
Chris Badgett: And so besides a welcome message, what’s what’s in the library?
Brian Casel: So like answers to common questions. Okay. So a coach’s client if, say it’s a business coach, they probably get the question of like, how should I price my product? And they’ve probably answered that with some go-to strategies, like hundreds of times, right? They could create a five minute video that gives their best response to how to price a particular type of product that goes into their library.
How to make my first hire that goes into their library, how to I don’t know, get a virtual assistant or, yeah get a VA Hey, I’ve answered this question like 20 times. Let’s take that last one and turn it into a template. And so that’s like getting even back to like, courses, like a lot of, coaches would sign up for a course software to.
Not necessarily deliver a course like lesson 1 lesson 2 lesson 3, but just to have a place to store all this content and then they can like, hand pick and select and say hey this coaching client is a little bit beginner. Let’s. Let’s curate a couple of pieces of content and strategies for that person.
Or this client is more advanced. I’m going to go to my more advanced content in my library and give it to that person so that, that’s a big part of what, people do with, clarity flow. Yeah, that’s
Chris Badgett: huge. The best coaching things I’ve been around, there’s. The coach is like prescribing, and if they have this giant overwhelming vault they make it easy.
You can find it on your own, or maybe they’re like, Hey, you should really look at, you need to focus on this piece, this needle in the haystack. Basically I’m thinking of people like Dan Martell or James Schramko. They have these big libraries of public content, but also in their programs. Yeah.
Brian Casel: But I think that also that it’s, they’re still coaches that they’re still giving personalized advice or personalized responses back to the person.
So it might start with a template message about your go to VA hiring strategy. But then the person’s going to have Oh, but in my case I’ve got something that’s a little bit different. I have a question or. How should I actually apply that given my personal scenario? And that’s where a coach is actually offering coaching.
And so the the whole idea, like we went from asynchronous conversations that are laid out in like a threaded conversation layout. But now, that’s still the core. And, you can insert these templates and reply back with personalized. replies all in the same flow. And that’s, been like
Chris Badgett: the concept.
Yeah. Which helps the coach, not quote waste time on the low value entry stuff. And then when the custom piece comes in, it saves everybody’s time.
Brian Casel: Exactly. And also there’s a lot of code like, I work with a coach, I meet with them. Live on a call once every 2 weeks, but in between our live calls, we have an asynchronous thread going in clarity flow and the way we usually use that is I’ll send them a message a couple of days before our live call that’s coming up and say Hey, here are the couple of things that are on my mind right now.
Just to give you some groundwork, some context that we don’t have to waste the first 20 minutes of our call doing that. It’s once we get on the live we can just jump right in I
Chris Badgett: love that. Just because we always have to ask how should coaches use a artificial intelligence or can they, or do you have any tips there or what you’re seeing in the industry right now?
To create even more like speed or
Brian Casel: quality or whatever it’s, interesting again, like I hear from a lot of coaches every day and I have not heard it’s not like a high demand high feature request thing. Oh, I wish this could be done with AI. Or I wanna use AI in this way. So it’s, so I would say so far we’re still, at least in this, in, in my corner of the coaching industry, it’s still not a thing yet.
I’m, sure people use chat GPT and stuff, but like they’re not, they don’t wish it’s part of a coaching product. We certainly have ideas on how we might integrate AI in, in the future. I know that there’s a lot of people who tend to use chat g or, talk about how that they use chat GBT to like.
Think through ideas and frameworks honestly, I don’t know, like, how if, it really comes into play in the interaction between a coach and their client, I think most people are using AI privately to help, them help in their own creative process or, their own production flow. That’s how I generally, I mostly use it for coding cause I work on the product.
So I, I use it a lot in software development stuff. Occasionally we use it to help write some like marketing copy and things like that, or at least get like a version one of that written. But in, in clarity flow there at some point, probably next year, we’ll get into things like, because what we already do is we transcribe.
So if you send a video message or an audio message, we’ll automatically transcribe it and put the text there. An obvious 1 is we should use AI to summarize that and give you a couple of bullet points so that you don’t have to read the whole thing or listen back. Another thing that we do is every message gets a title, which you can customize.
We should be able to use AI to automatically title your messages so little, and I think in general, like software tools should, just try to sprinkle AI in, in these things. It, doesn’t have to replace how the thing gets used because at the end of the day, most tools are still used by humans,
Chris Badgett: I can see, I like your point about just using it in your own brainstorming. Like I could see a coaching client being like, okay, I just signed up for SAS coaching with this person. What should I ask them or whatever? Like just to get the brainstorm, get the juices flowing. Yeah, for sure. Yep. You mentioned you code.
One of the things that’s always impressed me about you is you’re what I would call a unicorn. You can market, you can sell, you can design, you’re good at product, you can write code, you’re good with team members like you do it all.
Brian Casel: Yeah, I would question on the marketing side. I think I’ve had some marketing wins over the years and some product business wins.
But I always feel stronger on the product side and I think of product is like that includes talking to customers. And then mapping the customer needs to designing a feature and an interface that makes sense that’s, where I like to, that’s literally where I spend most of my time.
Chris Badgett: There’s that saying that the best marketing is a good product. So I think so. Yeah. Or, and there’s, also the other one is advertising is the price you pay for not having a great product or something.
Cool. Let’s talk about on the instrumental product side, like who is your ideal person that you want to help?
Brian Casel: Yeah. So this is new we’re, this is live, but we’re recording this in December of 2023. And so this month I’m starting, I’m just, getting the wheels turning on this new business.
So this is like separate from clarity flow continues to run. I’ve got a small team and I still work on that, but yeah, I want to start up something new in 2024 and, I’m calling it instrumental products. I’m thinking of it like a media brand, like a media company. It’ll mostly be me. I’m going to be focusing a lot on, creating a lot of YouTube content.
But it’s mainly about around product strategy. Like I was just saying I like to spend most of my time thinking and working and building things on the product side and I did go through this transformation about this was back in 2017, 2018, where before in all the years before that, I was really just a designer and a marketer and I couldn’t build.
Software products full stack. I always relied on outsourcing and hiring developers and or just doing like services and not being able to do full software products. But then I learned how to code. I learned Ruby on rails. I learned the full stack being able to take any idea or meet any market need and build and ship something.
And. Yeah. Now we’re like, 6 years later I’ve really leveled up my skills a lot on that because that’s all I’ve been doing for the last 6 years is building software products. And I would like to get back into teaching and content and coaching and I’ve started doing this a little bit through instrumental products.
Where I’m helping people transition to a products business, and that could be learning how to code and ship your own software, SAS idea, or WordPress plugin idea, or whatever it might be. Or it could be working with you and your co founders or small team to like. Get transitioning or shipping your your, 1st product and kind of transition into that.
Again it’s, just starting up now. I’m getting like, the content engines going. I’m starting to do a bit of coaching with, some product folks and. And I’m learning right now on, like, how to really niche this down, but my, current thought is helping you build and ship a product and, expand your skill set to be able to do that.
Yeah, it’s fun. I’m exploring right now, but I’m pretty excited about it.
Chris Badgett: I came into product from the agency side and it was really challenging. It was really hard. I had partners it was really tough. And, but I hear that a lot from people, particularly in my circles in the WordPress community who build websites for clients and they want to get into product.
Given where you’re at now with all your experience and everything, what is like the first couple of things, if somebody has that desire, like I really want to get into product, like where, do we start heading so that we don’t end up wasting lots of time and money and increase our chances of success?
Brian Casel: Yeah. I, definitely went from one of the things that drove my interest in this back in 2018 was that before that I was totally, if I wanted to get into any sort of software product business, I was totally reliant on outsourcing the development and that meant a few things, which I learned the really hard way.
Like I had a SAS attempt at that back in 2017, where I spent. Upwards of 50, maybe more thousand dollars over the course of a year or 2, just hiring back end developers to take my designs and my product ideas, bring them to life. So not only spending a ton of money and. Unless you have investors if you’re bootstrapping, like I was like that, could be pretty draining.
But then it’s also not really understanding how everything comes together. And I’m, a designer first, but I build and, ship products full stack. And I’ve come to a point now where I really see design as everything from designing how the database is architected to how different.
Services in the code work together how, the interface comes together, how users use it. It’s, all you’re designing a product from, the inside it out and, I made so many product mistakes early on before I learned the full stack, not only cost me money, but made a much worse product because I did not understand why certain technical decisions were being made it’s, made me collaborate so much.
I have a team of, two or three developers where we collaborate on such a deep level that I wouldn’t have been able to do before, had I not known, the language. So that’s been a huge one for me. And then just gaining the ability to build and ship literally anything.
Like at this point there’s, this sense of of course I haven’t built everything, but like any idea that comes along, I know how to learn, how to build that. I, know the, path to figuring this out and man now with ai, like I can’t believe I. Spent these years in 1819 learning how to code and AI was not even a thing back then.
I wish it was like AI makes it so much easier now. So it’s, pretty exciting, but what it does, I think for, most people who transition into this is Completely opens up your world in terms of the potential ideas and the potential businesses that you can transition into. Like it doesn’t have to be selling your time as a freelancer.
Could be a way out of having a job full time. Of course, those things take a really long time to transition out of, but it definitely opens a lot of possibilities
Chris Badgett: Yes, that is really amazing about your broad skill set, but I love how you put design at the center. And I think there’s a real, it’s our world runs on design, whether you realize it or not, everything is designed.
I remember going to Barnes and Noble once and being like, Oh, I want to find a book on design. I want to level up my being a product person design, I couldn’t really find anything. And I went to Amazon. I wasn’t really sure what I could find the best stuff that was relevant to my industry. It seems like there’s, it’s so important yet.
There’s. A gap or it’s like really narrow Oh we’re just going to focus on interface design and, but what there’s not, I don’t know. There’s, it just seems like there’s this big gap in the market. Even like at the book level for somebody who wants to get into product design, let’s say at the software level.
There’s that book. Don’t make me think it’s really old. It’s good. Yeah. Like what other resources would you throw out there for somebody wanting to level up on product, particularly around design?
Brian Casel: The, for me, it’s always been just go build stuff, get into projects and do it. There’s, probably technical books out there that you can, I’ve never been a learner of technical concepts using books.
Usually because a, the things move so quickly that they’re so you’re not up on the latest stuff. You should still, I think, generally choose things that are a little bit older and more mature. Don’t, just go straight to like the cutting edge, most trendy tech stacks and languages and things.
I, I chose Ruby on rails because it’s like old and boring and huge and well established. But but yeah, like books are also like. Yeah. This is the other thing that I learned as, someone who learned how to code for the purpose of shipping products. It’s a very different thing. If you are, learning for the purpose of getting hired as a developer and maybe getting your first job as a junior developer or trying to go work at Google or something or, level up your career as a, as an employed web developer software engineer, that’s a totally different thing.
And there’s a lot of necessary shortcuts that you need to take. It can be really confusing in the early days to know what is actually important to spend time understanding and learn. What’s. What else can I just learn the surface level and get the gist, but I don’t have to go deep because it’s not going to get me there faster.
That’s that over time. You get better and better at learning those like shortcuts through the learning stuff that so and that’s where projects come into play. Yes, you probably need to take some courses like a 101 course at the beginning. There’s a lot of online learning materials out there.
I also. Got a lot of benefit from working with coaches or in my first year of learning, like other experienced Ruby on Rails developers coaching me on like, when I get stuck, they can answer my questions, but the most important learning thing was taking that base knowledge that I gained through courses and some coaching and getting into practice throwaway projects.
And then eventually the sooner you can get to building and shipping your very first real project. That’s where you’re going to learn, like, all right, this is where I’m getting stuck and this is what’s going to get me to the finish line. And you’re going to learn that again and again. Learn by doing that’s, the best thing.
Chris Badgett: What, would you say to a non technical founder who really wants to get into like software as an example on the decision of should I really try to be full stack or find a technical co founder? Yeah generic advice at that, crucial decision point.
Brian Casel: I feel like there’s never really any generic advice for anything.
Yeah. It’s totally personal for each individual person. Some people are just naturally drawn to it. I, feel like in my case. My mind worked logically, like a programmer, probably for 10 years before I even learned how to program but I, just didn’t know how to put the pieces together.
So I was a front end developer and I had worked a lot with processes with. People and teams and stuff, but I never learned how to build and ship code. So I, guess in that sense, it came easy to me, but I think that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs who are like that, who, who are, who have a systems mindset.
If you think in processes like, when you scale your team and your operations. It’s not all that different. It’s when this happens, we do this. When this happens, we do that. If this, then that it’s, a lot of that there’s more technical stuff to it, but you can learn it.
It’s not that difficult. I think with I think that for non technical co founders, if you do have a technical founder, it’s also really, important for that technical founder to be able to speak the language of business. And, because you can’t just trust that a totally technical person is going to make all the right business decisions when it comes to deciding how to implement something, how to code something, how to architect a database.
If we built it this way, what is it going to mean next year when we need to move the feature in that direction to reach this customer group? Or can we trim the scope in this or that way to ship this? This quarter instead of three quarters from now. There’s a lot of that, kind of like decision making.
And I think if the, I think it’s like a technical founder and a non technical founder need to meet each other in the middle, like the non technical needs to care about marketing. The non technical found, of course they need to do the sales and marketing, but like they also need to learn enough about the technical side to be able to speak to the technical person and make informed decisions.
They can’t just trust that it’s because what ends up happening is the non technical founder gets frustrated with like, how long are things taking? Why are things taking long? can’t we ship this? Doesn’t it work in the way that I thought it would work? You got it, got to get it into the weeds to understand that stuff.
Maybe you’re not the one actually writing code, but like you got to understand how things were architected.
Chris Badgett: Let’s say there’s a coach or a course creator out there and they’re, super niche and they’re like, you know what? I want to add more value in addition to courses and coaching. I think I want to build like a software for my people.
How do you have any quick thoughts on that to do it on, do a WordPress solution versus a SAS solution? What are, what’s, what are some things that people aren’t thinking about if they’re new to the idea of which way should I go?
Brian Casel: In terms of choosing which tools to be able to build a product.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah. If somebody has an idea and they’re like, I want to help house cleaners run their business more successfully. As an example, I’m just thinking about one of our customers.
Brian Casel: I would, yeah, I would go with whatever tools, whatever platform the best and you are most comfortable building and shipping.
And if, that’s WordPress, then do it in WordPress. If it’s not, then go, with something else. But at the end of the day, like the underlying platform doesn’t matter all that much that what, what matters. Like when I started to learn how to code, I was deciding between first, like the whole world of, languages which one should I learn?
And then I zeroed in on like, all right, it’s either going to be Ruby on Rails. Or laravel PHP based Laravel and both of them are really popular. Both of them are really or somewhat old. They’ve been around several years. They’re through several versions now. So they’re not like cutting edge and brand new.
The other factor that I looked at was like, they’re so popular. That there is so many resources available in these ecosystems to, learn, to use smaller libraries and plugins and products in these ecosystems for rails or Laravel. There’s a lot of courses, there’s a lot of coaches. And then the, last thing that I looked at was like, there’s a huge worldwide developer pool of people that I could potentially hire if you get like the most niche.
Cutting edge technology is gonna be very few developers available to hire for that because they don’t know it yet. But there’s a ton of ruby on rails developers and there are a ton of PHP developers in the world. That made it a lot easier to eventually yes, at first, it was more about me learning and building myself.
But very quickly, like within a year or two after that, I got into shipping real SAS products where I did need to bring in the help of other developers. And I’ve been working with this group for the last five years. And, then just being able to like collaborate with developers in this ecosystem.
That’s been huge. So that’s what I would look at in terms of choosing which one to learn. But in terms of I have a product idea ship, I want to ship it within the next three, four months. Just go with whatever best
Chris Badgett: let’s use the the house cleaning example. If we were going to build a software there, and on level 1, you would just communicate to a developer that says something like, I want a house cleaning software that does this, and this, but design 1 of your strengths is like a much.
It’s a powerful communication tool. Writing is important too, but how does somebody get into visual communication? Like for you when you’re designing do you start like on paper, then you go to Figma or something like that? Or do you build like a, fake PowerPoint? mockups or, how does somebody get into that way of thinking and communicating visually and thinking about user experience?
Brian Casel: Yeah. That’s the key word is user experience. It’s, so much less about the colors and the styling and the fonts. That stuff is important to it. Like you don’t want it, like it should have a cohesive visual look and feel, but that. That gets figured out very early on, like from the branding.
And then once you have a basic style guide to work with, like that basically defines your three or four colors and, stuff like that. Eventually you get better at like fonts and spacing and that stuff is just surf surface level, like visual look and feel. When I think about design for a product, I’m thinking about.
I start with what does the user need to I, very much like this concept of job to be done. And that’s how I structure a lot of my customer research interviews is, understanding their job to be done. Like, why are they hiring this product? What’s the outcome that they need to get from it? And in many cases in the case in clarity flow, it’s a product that they’re going to.
Probably open up and log in and use on a day to day basis. So I, got to understand what is their like daily workflow? And where do they need to get too fast? What do they need to use a lot? What, are they not going to be using very much? We could tuck those away and like settings panels and stuff.
But mostly it’s like, what’s the fastest way between point a and point B. They want to do this. , they want to send this message. They want to be able to configure these options and send it off. Let’s help them do that in a seamless way. The, other thing that’s frustrating, but it’s a.
It’s part of the process is I, might have after I do a customer research interview and I design and I. I know conceptually what the feature needs to be and what it needs to do. I could design it and build it and ship it with, whatever concept and layout and user interface that I think makes the most sense to me, but so many times I ship it and then I get feedback from users.
Who are confused or they can’t find the button that I think is pretty obvious, but they don’t see it. Or or they actually end up working in a different sequence than I thought they, they would in their workflow. You just can’t understand that stuff until you put it in the hands of, customers.
So I’m a big believer in yeah do, your best to ship something of high quality, but. Sooner, the better, get it out the door as quickly as humanly possible because, and it’s not done once you ship it once you ship it now, you can learn and now you can iterate and improve it and, all that.
Even this week we’re about to launch this big commerce feature. It’s one of the biggest features that we’ve built so far. We’ve been working on it for probably almost three months now. But we’re at the end, we’re at the final testing and I’m telling my team like, all right, we got to test it of course, but we’re, it’s going live next week.
Like they’re going to be things that are not going to be finished or not, or might break, but we’re going to fix those afterward. We need to just get it out the door and get it in the hands of users. And then and then go from there.
Chris Badgett: Last quick question just for the course creators out there.
Interactive courses is a feature of ClarityFlow. What does that mean? Or if somebody’s really just thinking about content and making videos for their courses, how can they make it more interactive?
Brian Casel: Yeah. Again we, take the angle of this is for coaches and, their clients. So a lot of times a coach’s form of a course is like an inter interactive thing where, they’ll send like one message to their client or one course lesson, if you will, to their client.
And then you want to have a workflow that says once the client presses play on that, then trigger the next one. Or once they press play, trigger the next one a week later. Or you can do things like if the client has not pressed play automatically send a email 3 days later to nudge them to say, hey, you haven’t watched this yet.
And then the other way you can do it is if the client presses play, or if the client posts a reply, then automatically post a reply back to them after that. So you can set up these question answer call response time delayed sequences. We, call them workflows that you can build into your conversations and into your into your courses and clarity flow.
That’s essentially what it is.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. That’s Brian. I could talk to you for another hour, but we’re, up on our hour here. So go check out clarity flow. That’s a clarity flow. com. If you want to learn or work directly with Brian, check out instrumental products. com. And you can also put them in your earbuds like me and listen to bootstrapped web.
It’s a great podcast. If you enjoyed this conversation, you’ll really enjoy bootstrapped web as well. Is there any other final words for the folks listening out there, Brian?
Brian Casel: Yeah, Chris, this was fun. I was always good to catch up with you. And I’m always a fan of what, you guys are doing over there at lifter.
Yeah, keep doing it. I can’t believe like you’ve been doing this podcast forever. I like to
Chris Badgett: say I started this podcast at the same time as Tim Ferriss. He’s just a lot better known than me. So literally 10 years.
Brian Casel: Wow. Incredible. That is like super impressive to, and you’ve been like, have you even missed a week on this thing?
Chris Badgett: Maybe here or there, but not really. Yeah thanks for coming on, Brian. I really appreciate it. Go check out also Brian on Twitter. That’s at Cass jam, and I hope you have a great rest of your day.
And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at LifterLMS. Go to lifterlms. com forward slash gift.
Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.