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Why Laura Roeder Started Paperbell: Even Though Meet Edgar is Still a 7 Figure ARR SaaS Business

By Eric Burns |

What do you do when you have an extremely successful SaaS business that’s doing multiple millions per year in annual recurring revenue (ARR), but then you have a new idea for a software tool? Do you then go and build that software tool?

How do you determine how quickly you want to grow a business? And how important are content marketing and podcasting in growing a successful business? 

These are all questions that we answer in this podcast episode with Laura Roeder.

Laura is an extremely successful entrepreneur and is very well known in the space. She is the founder of Meet Edgar, a social media success tool that has grown rapidly. She is also the founder of a new software tool called Paper Bell, a scheduling and payments software for coaches. 

I really enjoyed this discussion with Laura, not only because she is a multiple product SaaS founder, but also because she gives some really actionable advice as she shares her story.

Watch The Interview With Laura Roeder

Some of the topics covered in the interview include:

Not everything is perfect with her new start-up.

After the success of Meet Edgar, which went to over 1 million in ARR in less than 12 months, to have a company that’s just barely doing 6 figures is something of a change. It’s fascinating to hear the discussion that Laura has here as she answers some of my questions and gets an inside look into the entrepreneurial mind and what she’s working on and what’s working well.

One of the things that rang true for me in this interview was Laura’s point on the importance of strategic SEO today for a stronger position and growth in the future.

Rather than just writing what we think our audience might be interested in, SEO-focused blogging that is strategic and targeting specific keywords will put us to the top over time.

Laura Roeder

And, if you have a coaching business, Paper Bell might just be the software tool for you. It not only schedules and takes payments, but handles the entire process of booking calls. Check out all the features here.

I really hope that you enjoy this interview with Laura Roeder.

Paperbell is The New Online Software That Takes Care of Appointment Scheduling, Taking Payments, Contract Signing, Intake Surveys, Client Admin and More for Your Coaching Business. 

Try Paperbell Free

Read the full Transcript

Spencer Haws: So what do you do when you have an extremely successful. Well, SAS business, that’s doing multiple millions a year in annual recurring revenue, but then you have a new idea for a software tool. Do you go and build that software tool? How do you determine how quickly you want to grow a business? Do you look at the bottom line, the profits, or do you just scale as quickly as possible and potentially even raise funds?

How important is content marketing and podcasting in growing a successful business? These are all questions that we answer in this interview today with. Laura Roeder. Laura is an extremely successful entrepreneur. Very well-known in the space. She is the founder of meet Edgar, which is [email protected]

And she is also the founder of a new software tool called paper bell. And you, of course, you can check that out as well. Over at. Paper bill.com. I really enjoyed this discussion with Laura, not only because she is a multiple product SAS founder, but also because she gives some really actionable advice as she shares her story here, she talks about strategies that have worked really well to grow and expand, meet Edgar, but then also things that are working well.

In her new company and then maybe some things that aren’t working quite as well. Not everything is perfect with her new startup. After the success of meet Edgar, which did over a million dollars in annual recurring revenue in less than 12 months to have a company that’s only doing. Six figures a year and just barely six figures a year is something of a change.

And so it’s really fascinating to hear the discussion that Laura has here as she answered some of my questions and to get an inside, look into the entrepreneurial mind. And what she’s working on and what’s working well. So if you have a coaching business paper, Belle may be the software tool for you.

Paper bell is a software that not only schedules and takes payments, but it handles the entire. Process of booking, coaching and client calls that you are accepting money for. So you can check that out at paper, bell.com, but overall, I really hope that you enjoy this interview with Laura.

Hey Laura, welcome to the niche pursuits podcast.

Laura Roeder: Thank you, Spencer. I was sitting here wondering, is he going to say niche or niche? Which side is he on? So now, now I know your niche, man.

Spencer Haws: I’m I’m a niche man. And I know you’re in the UK right now. And so you’re, you know, probably people are swaying you to niche over there.

I might have to

Laura Roeder: go niche. Yeah. Maybe we’ll, we’ll just mix it up.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. People guessing, you know, I go niche, but whatever, whatever happens, happens, and that’s cool. So very good. So yeah, you are in the UK and we’re talking before you moved from Austin. It sounds like a few years ago. And you’re now sort of raising a family, right?

You’ve got how many now? Two

Laura Roeder: or yes, I have a two year old and a six year old. Yeah. And I live here in Brighton in England.

Spencer Haws: Awesome. Yeah. Very, very good. Yeah, certainly young family. I’m a family guy, and so it’s always great to connect with other entrepreneurs that are raising families and juggling both right.

Making it happen so I can appreciate that very much. So I’d like to give people kind of a background on who you are. Some of the history that has led you to where you are now. And many years ago you started a company called LKR that kind of helped. Companies do their social media. And can you, can you explain why you started that and kind of what led you to that?

Laura Roeder: Yeah, so I, to make it a little bit longer, the first business I started was really as a web designer and graphic designer. Designing logos and business cards and websites that was in 2007. And that parlayed into helping the businesses that I was doing their websites, helping them with their social media.

And so I started doing some social media consulting and I very quickly discovered the world of info products. Now they’ve been upgraded to online courses. Which is great, because that sounds much better than info products. I don’t know products is a

Spencer Haws: terrible name, but it’s not just

Laura Roeder: an ebook anymore.

Right, right. So yeah, so I did online courses about social media marketing for a long time. And in 2014 that became a social media marketing software, which is. Meet Edgar. And then last year in 2020, I launched a, another software business, which is called paper bow, which is for coaches, life coaches, business coaches to run their business.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. And so you’ve done a lot of really interesting things. And we’re going to kind of cover that whole span a little bit and to get to where you are today, of course, with paper bell, but yeah, you, you, you launched meet Edgar, I think you said in 2014. And it sounds like the reason for that was well, you, you tell me, you know, you probably saw the need there because you’re managing so many social media profiles and social media clients, but maybe give us a little bit of the Genesis of the idea there.

Laura Roeder: Yeah. So when I launched that, I actually wasn’t doing any service work. It was all hands-on teaching. So yeah, it wasn’t, I’ve actually never done social media management. Like as a, as a service, I’ve sort of consulted on it and then I’ve done training, teaching people how to, you know, manage it themselves.

So basically what happened is I saw that the way most entrepreneurs were and still are. Managing their social media marketing was a massive waste of time because people were coming up with. Multiple new updates every day forever. So I start looking into the stats of social media and seeing these numbers and being like, okay, only a tiny percentage is seeing any tweet, Facebook update.

The numbers are even lower now than they were, you know, in 2014, organic reach has continued to drop and I thought, why would I come up? With new stuff every day, I should just create a library and be repurposing a library of content, social media. So I was actually teaching people to do that manually using a really complicated color-coded spreadsheet.

So yeah, the software idea was like, why, why am I using a spreadsheet? Software could do that. As why as a human doing this that’s built software to automatically do the social media process. I was teaching.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. So that makes a lot of sense. And were you getting a lot of of your clients kind of saying, Hey, this is a lot of manual work.

Was that a lot of the feedback that you were getting or was it really just, Hey, you could see that you’re teaching this process that, I mean, it’s going to take these clients hours to do, and you kind of just recognize that.

Laura Roeder: Yeah, it wasn’t so much feedback from them because I don’t think they saw another way.

I don’t think it would have occurred to them to say, oh, this is a lot of work. Cause it was just how, how it is. And actually, yeah, so my husband, Chris is a developer. I’m not a software developer myself. So it was really, he is the one who saw what I was teaching and heard me complain about it and said, yeah, I could build software that does that because I was kind of like.

I was kind of like my clients. I’m like, well, I guess software, I guess, software can’t do it. I don’t know. It seems really obvious to me that software should do this because you know, when Josh Edgar, we were not the first social media marketing tool you know, buffer already existed. HootSweet already existed, but they didn’t.

And still don’t give you a library of your updates. It’s just like putting updated and they send it out. But then you have to keep doing that over and over again. So I, I kinda thought, oh, well, I guess there’s some. Good reason, the social media tools, right. Don’t do this. So it really took Chris saying like, no, we could, we could build a tool that does this.

And now I know that anything, anything you can do on the computer software can do so for anyone listening, who’s like, could I build a software that can do that? Yes.

Spencer Haws: That is so very true. And hopefully there’s somebody listening, right. They can kind of take that idea if like you’re using a spreadsheet in particular, right?

Like you can probably automate and make your life a whole lot easier. Maybe a lot of other people’s lives easier and build a successful business in the process. And so meet Edgar became. Very successful very quickly. You know, you’ve done lots of interviews and you’ve been very open with sort of some of the numbers that Edgar achieved at like in the first year.

I think it was like seven figures, you know, within the first year and revenue that it was doing so grew very quickly right out of the gate. What do you think is the reason that it grew so quickly early on?

Laura Roeder: Well, you know, it’s been interesting because now I’m doing my next SAS company. And we haven’t grown as quickly as paper, you know, we’re coming up to a year now and we definitely have not reached that million dollars in annual reoccurring revenue in our first year or so.

You have so much more perspective, you know, I know that you’ve done a bunch of projects. The great thing about doing a bunch of projects is you start to discover more. What is strategic. What’s just luck because often you have luck and you think you’ve come up with a brilliant strategy when you’re trying to do it again.

You’re like, oh wait, wait. Yeah. Yeah. So I think with Edgar, you know, we had a lot of forces conspiring in our favor. So one, we did come up with something truly. Innovative. And it was sort of a perfect mix. I think it’s great to be in an industry where the industry already exists, but you have some innovation to add on top of it because you know, a lot of people are scared to go into a crowded market.

That’s a great thing about a crowded market is that your customers are already looking for you. So when we’re convincing someone to buy MeetEdgar, we’re not. Introducing an idea, the idea of a tool to manage your social media. They already know they want a social media scheduling tool. They’re deciding which one, you know, so we’re like, oh, well, here’s why you should choose go.

It saves you a lot more time, you know, automates a lot more. Whereas with paver about we’re much more inventing a new category. Most coaches do not use a competitive software. They don’t use a software like paper belt to manage their business. So it’s a lot harder. You know, we have a big opportunity to introduce something new, but we’re not saying, oh, switch from that to paper bell.

We’re saying, what if you had software that ran your business for you? And they’re like, oh, okay. I guess that sounds interesting. I don’t know. Also Terry, so I, I think it was a lot of right place, right time where we were going into an industry that people, you know, they knew they needed a social media tool, but we were really able to offer something really compelling.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. You know, it, it makes sense. Looking back, you know, the timeframe of like 2014, like the social media market was, was young, but more mature. Like it wasn’t like brand new, right? Like people were using a lot of scheduling tools already. But then you. Introduce something innovative, right.

Something that did something a little bit different than, than buffer and the other scheduling tools did. And so, yeah, right place, right. Time is certainly part of it. But I know that you did a lot of marketing, a lot of hustling things that clearly helped, you know, sort of pull poor gasoline on the fire there.

And I think I read or. It maybe even watch a YouTube video back in the day you were talking about, and I could be wrong because this is a long time ago. Talking about how podcasting actually was a big part of the growth of Edgar. And so is that the case and maybe talk about that strategy a little bit.

How important you felt like podcasting was.

Laura Roeder: Yeah. So I have been a guest on over 200 podcasts, done a lot of podcasts scenarios. And that has been a big growth driver, but, you know, I think not maybe an exactly the way that people would expect. So my advice on doing podcast interviews is not don’t create individual landing pages, do not create individual coupon codes because.

It’s a cumulative effect. You know, there’s been. I always say pat Flynn is like the only path one. It’s like the only podcast where we actually see like a big chunk of that. Oh, pat Flynn. But like, you know, out of the hundreds of other podcasts of, you know, all varying sizes, it’s really just that the little, little bit all adds up together.

So for a while we were trying to track it all. And if you try to track it individually you’ll be very disappointed, you know, then, and the other thing about podcasts is that people very often don’t go to the landing page that you said they don’t use the coupon code. They just Google you and they might Google you six months later.

I think it’s more often a branding effect where maybe they hear you on the podcast. And then. A friend dimensions you, and then when the friend mentions you, they take the recommendation a bit more serious. They’re like, oh, I’ve heard of that company. Actually. I heard the founder on a podcast. So I think, you know, people want to do podcast campaigns and they’re like, okay, I’m going to track, you know, how many people came in from each podcast.

And did they convert? We have not seen that. You can track it that way, but we have seen that. It’s a very effective way to just get your company name. In in front of your audience,

Spencer Haws: right? The, the catch 22 of podcasting, it always has been is that it’s really hard to track this specific results to an exact episode because just the way tracking works, like you said, they are listening while they’re in their car or out running, and then it might be two weeks later that they finally get around to just Googling it.

And there’s no way to tie that. They listened to that episode, you know, two weeks ago.

Laura Roeder: The other cool thing about podcasts is that they are evergreen, you know, people continuously discover podcasts. And when you discover one that you like, you often go back and listen to old episodes. So even podcasts that I did five years ago, And whether they’re still active now or not, can still find new listeners that might go back through the episodes.

So it’s just, you know, as opposed to paid ads, the thing about which we also have used over the years, but I always point out about paid ads is when you turn the money off. The traffic drops to zero. It’s very all or nothing. You know, like either I am giving Google a dollar or I’m not, if I’m not giving them a dollar, they’re not showing my ad where more organic channels like podcasts.

I do this work. I put it out there. It lives on the internet forever. I don’t have to keep doing anything. I don’t have to keep paying for it for people to be able to discover it years and years down the road.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. And it’s absolutely true. I look at my podcast, you know, I’ve been running my podcast for several years and I’ll look at even some of those early episodes and it’s not a lot of downloads.

Right, right. I did five, six, seven years ago. But it is some like every month, like, even if it’s like 10 or 20 listens, right. Like that’s. Yeah. 10 or 20 people that are listening to an episode that you recorded years and years ago. Yeah. And so so would you say that that was definitely one of the biggest reasons for the success of Edgar?

Or were there a couple of other marketing strategies you felt like were maybe more important?

Laura Roeder: So, you know, it’s funny because like we said, it’s, I’m really just guessing at the answer. So when we look at how people discover Edgar now, All we know is that they type me, that girl into Google, they type into Google and then they start a trial and then they’re back.

So we know that they heard about it. Some how they heard about it from a Facebook group, from a review, someone wrote online from a podcast that they listened to. So what I know works is all the activity that we’ve done. You know, that I would just call content marketing, you know, so it’s blogging on our own blog.

It’s doing joint webinars, it’s doing guest posts and it hasn’t really been any one thing of all those things, but we have always been very consistent in just keeping our content marketing mix.

Spencer Haws: So if there’s a, maybe a, a newer SAS founder out there, that’s listening, that is kind of looking for, okay, they’ve got their product there, they’re launching it.

What are, you know, two or three of the, either, either content marketing or just things, activities they should be focusing on in their first year to, to really hit that growth.

Laura Roeder: Yeah. I mean, so I can, I can tell you this cause I’m doing it myself. Right? Cause I have another company that I just started. So. Two of the big strategies that we’re pursuing, there are one is blogging, right from day one and very SEO focused blogging, which is something that actually we haven’t done well.

I mean, Edgar, we’ve always blogged and we’ve always blogged about topics that our audience wanted to know about social media marketing topics. Our focus on SEO has been kind of on and off kind of shaky has not been consistent. Where I look at buffer has always done an excellent job with our SEO and has always created great content.

They are ranking for everything. We are not ranking for everything. You know? So it’s, it’s an interesting thing comparison because it’s like company a and company B, we both have good content. We’re both writing about the same topics, but I can see the results where they’ve been much more strategic about their SEL.

So with paper about, you know, we’re being much more strategic about. The articles that we’re writing all based on keyword search, not just what we think our audience might want to hear about, because I know that if we start building that up today three years from now, we have, you know, we’ll be in those top spots for our topics.

So that’s one. Another thing that I do with paper bell is I’m a member. I don’t know how many, like 60 Facebook groups for coaches. It’s one of those industries that’s very active on Instagram. That’s very active on Facebook. And again, it’s less of a specific strategy. It’s more, just a way to get to know our audience.

So it’s not that I’m a super frequent poster. I’m not doing that thing where I like pretend I’m offering advice. And then I try to hide a pitch and I know the post on Facebook. But I will say something that I’ve done, that’s very, you know, actionable that other people can use is I regularly search the Facebook groups for like we do scheduling at paper bells.

So I’ll search the Facebook group for tools like. Calendly and acuity other scheduling tools. And so when people ask what scheduling tool do you use? I’ll suggest paver bell. And again, it actually ends up being an evergreen thing because people see the new post, but people do also tend to search Facebook groups for common questions like that, to see what other people have recommended.

So it’s another one of those that you can’t really, you know, we see, we get some organic traffic from Facebook. We can’t track it. Unfortunately, beyond that, I have no way of seeing which posts or which groups, but it’s a way for me to consistently get my name out there and get people familiar with paper, bell, and just be present in a place where our customers are having really interesting discussions.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. So with, with paper bell, you talked about your content strategy. How much content are you trying to produce? Do you have like a minimum? Hey, we’re trying to do four blogs a month or something like that.

Laura Roeder: Yeah, we’ve been doing two posts a week. For how many months now? Probably about six months.

Now I’m thinking about dropping it to one a week because. We’ve hit a lot of the, there’s only a little bit of content where people type in for coaches think Google, you know, there’s a lot of stuff coaches look for without typing in for coaches, the stuff you can see, they type in for coaches. There’s only so many of those

Spencer Haws: kind of hit on those.

Yeah.

Laura Roeder: Yeah. Yeah. So I, and I am thinking about being a lot better about updating as well, because now this is something we’re circling back to with Edgar, with Agra, we’re focusing on our content marketing on updating and optimizing our old posts because we’ve written. Hundreds and hundreds of blog posts over the years.

So many of them have just sat there, but, you know, Google loves old. Content. So with paper bell, I’m thinking much more about how can we create a system where we just have like a great body of work that just gets better every year. So instead of always trying to think of something new to blog about, if we keep updating the same posts, They’ll get really, really good over the years, you know?

So I’m thinking of our content much more, that way of just having a great body of knowledge that keeps getting better instead of what’s supposed to the week what’s supposed to of the week.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense. Right? You’ve hopefully you, you hone in on sort of your key. Key keywords that you’re trying to rank for.

You’ve got this core set of, you know, a couple dozen keywords. And if you’ve got that content and you can go back and continually be updating it and just making it better and better that I think that’s a smart strategy. Google values, updated content, and I’ve seen huge results. When I go in, I’ll take an article that’s, you know, two or three years old update it.

Google definitely gives it a boost. You know, especially when you’re using maybe tools or surfer, SEO or market muse, right. That can help you sort of target sort of the latent, semantic keywords in your article, and it can do a lot better. So I think that is a really smart strategy to be doing that.

So to, to kind of hit back on Edgar and then we’ll move on to paper bell. Can you give us an idea of how well Edgar is is doing today as a business?

Laura Roeder: Yeah. So  has, you know, definitely had some ups and downs and growth before we recorded. You were referencing my startups for the rest of us episode, where I talked about, where we had a big dip in our growth.

So go listen to that. If you want to hear. The whole terrible, terrible story. Yeah. Yes. And

Spencer Haws: I do encourage people listen to that. It’s a, there’s a lot of good lessons there, but I didn’t want to make Laura here relive through that. But

Laura Roeder: yeah, so we’ve, we’ve definitely had our ups and downs. But we are at a few million a year, ARR.

We are growing again month over month, not, you know, anything massive, but we are growing a little bit every month, so yeah, it feels good to be back on that, that growth

Spencer Haws: track. So how, how much of your time are you spending on Edgar versus paper bill now?

Laura Roeder: So I spend almost all my time on paper bell and I actually have for a few years.

So we’ve had a team that runs at ger for about three or four years now. I’ve been pretty out of it actually pretty entirely. Just having kind of like a weekly check-in with leadership, which, you know, doesn’t have to happen every week. So, yeah, so Edgar’s something that I was very active in, in beginning and then kind of turned over to a team to, to

Spencer Haws: run.

Yeah. You know, I think that’s maybe the dream for a lot of people, right. Is to be able to build up a business that you can then have others actually run, especially if you’re an entrepreneur that has lots of ideas, which certainly you are one of those, right. To be able to turn it over to a team and let them run that right.

And so now you’re, you’re focusing your time on paper bell. And that, that was actually, while you were talking about posting and Facebook groups and going on podcasts and doing all these things for paper bell, my question was is, are you really doing all of that? Right? Are you really the one sending out all your outreach emails or are you really kind of in those early days, days with, with paper bail where you’re.

Really on the ground floor doing

Laura Roeder: it. I am, I am. Yeah. I mean, I don’t do, you know, we have freelancers that help, like I don’t write the blog posts. But I’m doing a lot of things myself, which. It’s really fun because it’s been a while since I’ve done that for Edgar, I’ve been much more in a management role with Edgar for a long time.

So just getting to go into the website and change whatever I want and not have to like explain to people like, oh, I deleted that page you made and replaced it with a totally new one. You know, when you have a team, you can’t just sort of go in with your wrecking ball and whatever you feel like, you know, but with paper bell, I can.

So yes, the Facebook groups is, is all all me.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. And that’s good, right? I mean, I guess, is that good? I mean, do you enjoy doing that? Do you enjoy being able to sort of start something new from the ground up again? Yeah.

Laura Roeder: And I think I suspect it can you to be a cycle for me because I like both sides.

You know, I like going in there and being hands-on. I also love the freedom of not having to do anything. So, you know, I’m always working on finding that balance. And I feel like I have that balance pretty well with paper belt because, because my businesses don’t involve any sort of sales component or any sort of client.

Servicing component. So, you know, with paper, Belle and Edgar, we’ve never had a sales team. I’ve never done demos of any kind, you know, so right. Because it’s all, it’s all, self-serve, it’s all content marketing. It does allow me to be hands-on but still have a good amount of freedom because if I want to work less or not work one week, nothing falls apart.

It’s not like, oh, I had 20 customer calls set up. I can’t just not. Show up for that. So, you know,

Spencer Haws: right. Yeah. So I have a somewhat selfish question here because I am in the early days of building a SAS company, I own link whisper. It’s a WordPress plugin and it’s doing well and it’s growing. And so I wanted to ask you as somebody that has owned a.

Fast-growing company kind of, when do you decide to hire, and maybe you can talk about this with paper bell, right? You’ve went through it with Edgar and, and paper bill of course, is hopefully, you know, going to get there where you start to replace some of the tasks that you’re doing. How do you decide when it’s time to make a big hire and I guess.

Part of the Genesis of this question is also just thinking about bootstrapping, right? We’re we’re both, bootstrappers, you know, we kind of either self-fund or only use the money that the business is generating. Right. So, yeah. Maybe talk through that thought process of, okay. Is the company really ready to make a big hire?

Laura Roeder: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a few different ways to look at it. So one. You know, with paper ball, we have a profit margin goal where we, and so, okay. To be really clear. I cheat. So right now it’s my husband and myself working on the business. We don’t pay ourselves because we get paid from Edgar. So that would obviously normally be the biggest expense which doesn’t exist.

You know? So with paper bowl, we try to have 20% profit margin, which means we keep 20%, but which means we try to spend the other 80%. So like what that can look like is like right now I’m just blatantly overspending on Facebook ads that are not converting because I’m trying to force myself to spend money.

And I’m like, maybe it’s just going to be awareness money. We’re going to keep working on this. We’re going to keep figuring out this formula. But I think a lot of bootstrappers I know I can, can be too tight with money and really inhibit my own growth. So for me, I have to kind of. Set like a spending goal and then try to think, okay, if I have to spend this much money, what can I, is it, you know, through freelancers to do these activities?

Is it, you know, through ad spend and then you can discover how to improve that spend. You’re like, okay, well, I tried, you know, I tried hiring a freelancer to do partnerships and I got no results from it. So it’s like, okay, well now I’ve, I’ve tried that avenue, but I think. When you spend money, it forces you to actually try doing it, instead of just thinking about it.

And to be clear, it’s not like I’m just done with partnerships now because this one little, you know, initiative didn’t work out. But I just, it’s so easy to sit around being like, should I do SEO or ads or partnerships? It’s like spend a thousand bucks on each, see what happens. So you know, what you like about it and what you don’t like about it?

I think the other big thing about spending is that as a bootstrapped company, you don’t have, you don’t have huge reserves in the bank. So it’s very normal not to have the annual salary in the bank when you hire the person. And I think, you know, we’re often we’re looking at, let’s say you’re looking to hire someone at 60 K a year and you’re like, oh man, with all the other taxes and stuff, that’s going to be, I don’t know what 75 K and I don’t know.

I, that sounds like a ton of money, but it’s like, okay, but you don’t pay 75 K you pay a month at a time. And obviously you don’t want to be super irresponsible and just, you know, when you only have one month and then you’re going to go out of business after that, like, you need to have a little cushion, but it’s a bootstrap, or you don’t need to have the whole year because you want to be hired people that hopefully you can add.

Revenue to your business, right? That’s the whole idea.

Spencer Haws: Yup. Of course. That, that takes time. But that is certainly the idea. So I like this sort of 80 20, so the, the 20% profit margin, how did you come up with that? Is that something that you saw somewhere else or some advice you received? Just kind of curious where, where that came from.

I

Laura Roeder: mean, you know, profit margin is different for different industries, but I think 20% is a pretty good standard, like very healthy profit margin. It’s not obviously, you know, if you brought a service business or sometimes online courses or something like that, you might have like 80% profit margin.

Right. You’re not talking about that, but you’re also talking about enough where, you know, if your profit margin is like 10%. And then you’re a little below it’s 5%, but then if you’re a little below that now you’ve gone to 0% and you’re out of business. So I just find a 20th high enough to give you some circuits.

You know, if you missed it by 5%. Yeah. You’re still at 15, which is still, which is still okay. And then, you know, with paper bile, I’m using a lot more freelancers than I did for Edgar. And I think that’s a big trend right now is to have a lot more freelance and a lot less full time. And of course, you know, the agility and the flexibility is so much higher with freelancers because you can hire people just for a specific project.

And then it’s. Fine. If you decide not to get in and you’re doing that

Spencer Haws: project, right? Yup. That is the great thing, right? It’s not a big deal. That’s what they expected to come on for. Right. As, as a freelancer, whereas full-time employee, you can’t just like change your mind a couple months, that kind of hurt.

Right. So I like that sort of establishing a profit margin that you’re willing to spend. Right. If you have to. Like I said, almost even overspend or at least force yourself to think of ideas. Okay. The purpose is to, to grow this company. And so maybe talk about your, your mindset there just a little bit more between scaling as quickly as possible versus sort of that bootstrapping mentality, right.

Because certainly you could go out and raise money and, and scale companies, right. Even faster, but Yeah. Maybe talk about that mindset a little bit between yeah. Just scaling as quickly as possible versus sort of this bootstrap mentality. Yeah,

Laura Roeder: so, I mean, for me, freedom is a huge motivator and how and why I run my businesses.

So. As some people say everyone has a boss. I think I don’t have a boss. I think I really, I really don’t. I have people that I have made agreements with. Right. Like I have other humans that I’ve made various like agreements and understandings and commitments with, but if I want to just. Not do anything for the next year.

Like, no one is mad, you know, I’m not

Spencer Haws: right. You can only be mad with yourself, right? Like there’s no way looking after you.

Laura Roeder: Right. For me. That’s a big motivator and staying bootstrapped is to truly not have a boss, not have investors in the business that I’m, you know, stressed about. Even if they weren’t applying pressure, I would just.

Okay. These people invested money and my business, I get it. Hey, golf for a year. I need to be earning them following, you know, that’s why they invest it. So I am definitely a huge, huge fan of bootstrapping. And I think the slower growth that can come with bootstrapping as opposed to raising money, although it’s not really fair to look at it that way, because I think the vast majority of companies that make money fail, you know, just.

Shut down entirely. We sort of have this weird point of view that they all have an accent or get acquired. But most of them don’t, most of them just don’t. Just run out of money and don’t work out, you know, that happens all the time. So it’s not this black and white choice of like, oh, do I want to raise money and grow fast and be really successful or bootstrap and be a little less successful or have a little less growth.

But you know, of course also the joy of bootstrapping is that you get to keep all of your profit margin. You get to decide how much to pay yourself. I’ve always paid myself well in my businesses. I’m not of the mindset of like, oh, reinvest all the money and then. Someday, you know, you might make money.

I’m like, no, I’m, you know, I’m an entrepreneur. I want to make money here. I want. Yeah. And then if you, if you can sell something, if you have a sellable business at the end, great. But I don’t think you should wait for that until you, until you pay yourself. So basically I’m, I’m very happy with the quote unquote slower pace.

And I don’t think it’s that much of a trade off because you can do things like, okay. Maybe my business isn’t as big. Maybe my business makes. A hundred K a year and not a million, but I keep a huge amount of that money.

Spencer Haws: Right. And that’s offset by the lower stress, right? The, the lifestyle business that hopefully you’ve built for yourself.

And that goes a long way. You know, as I look at my own business, having lower stress and life, and being able to take that extra vacation or yeah, if you don’t feel like working that day, that’s fine. And that goes a long way beyond just sort of the pocket book as well. So if meet Edgar, which is doing well if it’s doing so well, why go start something new?

Right. You’ve got something that, you know, it sounds like you’re able to draw a salary on you know, why I start paper bill?

Laura Roeder: I mean, I probably shouldn’t have, because I do think I’m probably, usually it makes more sense just to focus and grow the thing that’s already working. But, you know, I’m an entrepreneur and I get, I get bored and have, have other ideas.

There were also some actually logistical things as well, you know, moving from. The U S to the UK. Our, our Edgar team is all in the us, and we’re not like a work all night work whenever type of team. Like the business is very much run on us hours. So for me being here, that means the evening, which is like family time, you know, when you have, when you have young children.

So there were actually some logistical motivations as well for building a business that could be more on like my time and my terms. The way that my life looks now. But you know, I just, it’s fun to start businesses. It’s just the real answer.

Spencer Haws: It is fun to start businesses. I have the problem as well.

So I I’m really asking myself this question. Why do I always start something? You know? But but, but that does make sense as well, right? I mean, If, if Edgar is doing well and it’s run by a team, really, for the most part that’s in the us like where’s, where’s your opportunity to really dive into something right.

And, and kind of have that get into the workflow of something that can be new and exciting. Right. So, so that makes sense. I mean, you have to have something that you are doing during your regular work hours as well. So so. I want to just give you a chance to talk a little bit more about paper, bell where the idea came from and, and what it does, what the problem is that it’s solving.

Yeah.

Laura Roeder: So paper bowl is for coaches and consultants. Basically, if your business model is you sell. Your time online, you know, coaching someone, advising someone it’s software that does the billing and the scheduling and the client admin all in one place. And the idea came because actually I started doing some business coaching because like you said, I knew I needed something to do.

Like, I wasn’t really, you know, didn’t have a lot to do with Edgar. I wasn’t sure what my. Next thing was going to be, and I’m like, okay, I love, you know, chatting with people about business, coaching and business. So I’ll start doing that. And I just assumed that there was going to be I’m like, okay, so I need someone to like click a link and schedule and pay.

And I just assumed that that was going to be a thing that was out there, like click a link schedule and pay, but it turned out that it’s sort of a thing like the calendar tools have. Payment often added on, you know, like you can do Calendly and you can like tackle on your like PayPal or Stripe account, but then you can’t do things like have more than one session that you’re selling, or like have a subscription where, you know, you have like a session every month, as soon as it goes beyond just sorta like tack on that one time payment.

It, it kind of falls apart, you know, or. Like I looked at clarity FM who was kind of like an early player in the space, a little bit different because they focus more on like the marketplace side. But clarity, FM, at least as of. I don’t know, a year or two ago, didn’t even have a scheduling tool.

Like you, you buy a call from someone and then you just have to type in like, how about Tuesday? How about that

Spencer Haws: on your own after that?

Laura Roeder: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That’s weird. So I just, that’s how I discovered the need is just for my own business. And then of course I just started researching. The coaching space, which, you know, there’s a lot of overlap between coaches and online marketing and online courses.

So I’ve never done any formal coach training or anything. I’ve hired coaches over the years. It’s, it’s just a space I’ve been sort of familiar with. But I just started learning more about what a huge growing industry it is, you know, the needs that people have as a business. I’m just talking to coaches and learning what it would look like to be a software that was built very specifically for coaches and that’s.

Yeah. That’s what’s really fun about what we’re doing now is because now we’re in that phase, we’re just like, we’re just building what people ask for. So they’re like, you know, we added on registration fee. They’re like, okay, well I want to have this package, but then I actually charge a higher fee.

Just for the first payment, like a setup fee or registration fee. So it’s, again, just these little nuances that are common in coaches, but if you’re using kind of like a general software, aren’t going to be able to do those details. So it’s so fun when someone’s like, I want to set up fee and then we’re like, okay, we built it.

Here’s your setup fee.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. So it is interesting. The market for coaches, it does seem like it’s, it’s growing at least. I think as maybe the internet is maturing, right? Like before online coaching was not a thing. Right. And of course now it seems like it is growing. So I think it’s a good market.

Is there any particular type of coaches that are using your software most? Like, is it mostly like business coaches?

Laura Roeder: We see a really huge diversity actually. And one of them really cool things as you know, people. So we use the word coach, you know, very specifically in our marketing. So some people who use us identify as a consultant, but I would say most people do identify as a coach.

And you know, one guy that uses our software is a construction business coach because he coaches people that run construction businesses on how to run their businesses better. We have grief coaches that help people who are grieving. It’s just. The word coach just really means that you help people with something, you know?

So we definitely have, you know, more general like life coaches and business coaches, but then it’s also just so fascinating. Oh, we have one person that uses our software. This is like a little bit like off label, but she does. She’s a mermaid, like at children’s birthday parties.

So she has a mermaid business, which I think she does use paper. We’re really more for online stuff, but I think she does use paper bottle to like book her mermaid. Yikes. But then she has a coaching business. Like teaching people how to do like children’s entertainment, you know, businesses, because so many people become coach just like me, right?

Like I do business coaching because I’ve run businesses and then I have things to share. So it’s fascinating how many people become coaches because they’ve come become really good at a specific thing. And they’re like, I know how to run a children’s. You know, entertainer party business. I can help other people that want to do that too.

So that’s, that’s what

Spencer Haws: they do. Talk about niche right there. I mean, come on running a mermaid entertainment business of some sort. Interesting. I I’ve actually got a buddy as a side note that he owns dozens and dozens of costumes and he dresses up as Mario or Mickey mouse or so he gets rented out.

Birthday parties all the time. He’s a quirky kind of guy. I don’t think he’s ever done the mermaid though. So next

Laura Roeder: on his list, man,

Spencer Haws: Omer, man, I’ll, I’ll let him know. No that that could be a thing. So no, that’s, that’s very good. So generally you, you touched a little bit on how paper bell was, was doing, you know, it hasn’t had the crazy to the moon trajectory that Edgar has yet, but just generally, how how’s it going?

Yeah.

Laura Roeder: So we’re at about a hundred K ARR which I think is terrible. Just

I know that it’s fine. It’s nice to hear you say awesome. I’m like, okay. Be reasonable.

Spencer Haws: It is awesome. When we have to think about, you know, people that are listening that have never started a business, right? So you think about, oh man, a hundred thousand ARR. That’s great. So you’ve got a little bit of traction, right.

And it’s, it’s been just over a year, did you say?

Laura Roeder: Yeah, just under a year. Yeah, and we have you know, the other thing that I keep telling myself is it’s been a very product focused year. Like we haven’t done any. Imitation with our pricing. You know, a lot of people are still on like our early founders, you know, founding member rate, which was really low because the focus really has been okay.

Building out. Like I said, just all the details, all the core functionality of what makes our software a really. Just home run, you know, we just want it to get it to the point where it’s like, if you run a coaching business, it would just be ridiculous not to use this tool. It’ll just make your life so much easier.

So we are kind of still an app product. Not that you get out of being product focused, but you know what I mean? Just like building up that core, really excellent product. That’s that’s where we are in the journey right now.

Spencer Haws: Yeah, no, that sounds good. I love hearing that you’ve been able to sort of build something new, right?

I like I’m an entrepreneur. I love having new ideas and building new ideas as well. So I am thinking a little bit with Edgar, you know, you built a successful company there, you’ve essentially hired it out. You’re not putting a lot of your own time there. Would you ever exit that business and just sort of take that business, that money and you know, go vacation for a little while.

Laura Roeder: Yeah. I mean, I think I will, at some point right now I have a pretty good. When, when going, you know, because it’s a good income stream for me, which also makes it a valuable business to sell. So I think that will be the eventual outcome. You know, at some point the stars, the stars will align and that’ll

Spencer Haws: happen.

Yeah. Yep. So we will see, you know, when that happens, if that happens, but no, I love, I love hearing. How about your story and what you’ve built a of course with Edgar and then now paper, bell what’s, what’s next for your business? Like in terms of paper, Belle, like what’s sort of the next big thing, any big strategic moves that you’re making or just anything else you want to let listeners know about?

Laura Roeder: Yeah. I mean, I think, like I said, it’s about building up that really amazing product product. So we have something that’s a lot better than what you had, but like, if what you used before was, you know, like I said, Calendly, and then sometimes you sort of tackle on your PayPal account. This is a lot better than that.

What most coaches are doing is not most coaches are just like emailing an invoice and then. Hoping that someone pays it. Maybe they have the coaching call in the meantime, and the invoice hasn’t even been paid yet. You know, this is kind of the normal way of doing things. So what, what I’m really excited about is just making this a new standard of how the industry is run.

You know, like I look forward to when we have. A bunch of copycats. And because people always use a software like this, like whether or not they’re using paper, Belle, you’re just using a tool like this. And actually when we first launched, I was trying to describe it as I was thinking of that as sort of like Shopify for a service business in the sense that like Shopify is the tool you use.

To sell your offering online. And we’re very similar, you know, you have like your package offerings, paper Belle is the tool you use to deliver them with the calls and to sell them. I found that to not resonate with our audience, it made them feel very confused. Sorry, I don’t say that from a marketing perspective, but that is kind of like, and not that you know, I, I don’t really imagine the business.

Getting as big as Shopify. Like my dream is not to have a business that’s that big as far as, you know, revenue or team or all the ways that Shopify is huge. But I do think it’s very inspiring how Shopify really changed their industry and really, you know, for you to be able to have an e-commerce business, if you have the product, they will help you.

I accomplished everything else. And I love that idea that a coach could just be like, okay, I have my product. I sit down with people and help them for an hour. And pay-per-call can kind of do everything around that to make it a

Spencer Haws: business. Yeah. Yep. I agree. So people want to check that out. They can go to paper, bell.com and of course they can check out [email protected]

Is there anywhere else that you’d like to send people?

Laura Roeder: No, those are the big ones. Go to those to sign up for trials. Both of them.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, very good, Laura. It has been great having you on the podcast and a pleasure getting to know you a little bit better and thanks for sharing all your tips and advice.

Laura Roeder: Yeah. Thank you.

 




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By Eric Burns

Eric Burns is COO at NichePursuits.com. Before starting with Niche Pursuits, Eric was CEO and co-founder of Gazella Wifi-Marketing a SaaS tool for restaurants. In 2019 he sold Gazella to BloomIntelligence.com.

Eric has also owned a restaurant, built niche websites, self-published books on Amazon, and worked in the corporate world as an employee and customer engagement consultant for a global consulting firm.

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