092 - 20+ employees does not make you successful. With Nicki Friis



About Craig

My name is Nicki and before I built my growth advisory firm I helped start two digital companies and scale them to a team of ≈ 20. Both companies are still growing, and I still hold shares in both.
I founded “NICQI” because I wanted to do nothing but growing businesses in multiple industries and markets. NICQI helps ambitious digital companies like yours build growth strategies that acquire, retain and monetize more customers.
At the same time, I am hosting a weekly live-show called Out Of Growth where I interview growth leaders on their growth strategies.
On the personal side, I have two life coaching degrees and an Enneagram Practitioner degree - which has formed the basis for my life today.


https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickifriis/ - my LinkedIn
https://podcasts.apple.com/dk/podcast/iv%C3%A6rks%C3%A6tter-podcast-interviews-med-danske-iv%C3%A6rks%C3%A6ttere/id896381058?l=da - my podcast
nicqi.com - business website

Show Notes

Josh Tapp 0:00
What is up everybody? Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to the lucky Titan podcast. Today we've got Nikki with us here I'm super stoked because Nikki friis is really cool guy. He's in the marketing space him and I share a lot of similarities in the way that we promote to people and the way that we share what we do. I'm super stoked to have him here. So Nicky say what's up to everybody and tell something about yourself that most people don't know.
Nicki Friis 0:24
Huh, what's up everyone, and thank you judge for having me on your show where we honor to be here. So my name is Nikki fleece. I'm from Copenhagen, Denmark, I'm 26 years old started my first company when I was only 16. But that's not what I'm going to talk about today. So the personal thing or the thing that almost nobody knows about me is that I'm going to share my biggest secret at an event in November in front of 200 people. And this is like the biggest secret that I have and it will be so humiliating and embarrassing, but the reason for why I'm doing that and that's really What I want to share here is that I heard some some day sometimes ago that the biggest secrets that you have will also set you free. And that is really what I hope to get out of sharing it at that stage. And so far, only five people know that I'm going to do that. So there you go.
Josh Tapp 1:20
So go to that event. Dang it, we want to know the secret.
Now, I love that man. So you're 26 there's really random, when's your birthday?
Nicki Friis 1:29
It's 14th of december of December.
Josh Tapp 1:31
Okay, I'm a little bit older. I'm 26 to march 2, my birthday. So if anybody wants to send gifts to either of us, feel free to post your address in the in the bio right. That's awesome. Thank you. I do think I agree with you on that, though. I mean, you know, the truth will set you free. I've even found that especially in the entrepreneurial realm. A lot of people are trying to just share, hey, this is my big win. I'm so cool. Here's how much money I made. But it really comes down to when you start to share like today. sucked. And here's why it sucked. And this is how I overcame it. A lot of people love hearing that. I think it'd be really cool to hear your story. What's the event you're speaking at?
Nicki Friis 2:10
It's, um, I don't know what to call it a I mean, it's kind of like a TEDx event. Okay, in Copenhagen? Yeah, we will be, I think eight speakers in front of these 200 to 300 people. And all of us are going to talk about very personal stories. So it is I guess it would be super scary. And I'm still kind of working on the speech. And I have, I don't know, I free coaches kind of coaching me on I don't know, getting out of my comfort zone with a with this big secret that I'm going to share.
Josh Tapp 2:41
Yeah, say and that's, that's cool. You're willing to put that much effort into it. A lot of people just show up and wing it, you know? So that's cool, man. Well, so give us a little bit, you know, like a 30 seconds synopsis of where you're at and what you're doing right now.
Nicki Friis 2:58
Cool. So basically I was part of starting two companies here in Copenhagen, Denmark to SaaS companies first started here in 2015, and one in 2017. And I still own shares in both. I was heading marketing and operations, and we had approximately 20 plus employees in both companies. But I got tired of overhead and managing other people. And I really just wanted to focus on growth marketing, because that's where my passion is. So basically, today I have my own growth advisory firm called Nikki as well, where I basically just do that I help people strategize around growth marketing.
Josh Tapp 3:35
And I love that and what was really cool about when I when I send out my guest form to everybody, I always ask them like, if this were a masterclass what would you name the title? And there's really caught my attention, obviously, because you're a marketer. You do a good job with this, but you said 20 employees does not make you successful. So I'm probably gonna name that the title of the podcast, let's face it, but what what about
you know, you have Having a boys does not make you successful. Right. I think it's a really
Unknown Speaker 4:05
controversial topic, right? Yeah.
Nicki Friis 4:09
So I mean, yeah, I mean, one thing that I can share is that begging idea note when we started that, we basically hired 10 interns, free interns at the beginning of the company, and we were only the founders. And then we had 10 interns that was unpaid. And it brought us so much overhead and, and we had to manage so many people at the same time, we had to teach them in what we wanted to do. And we were just starting so we actually didn't know what we wanted to do either. And so basically, we had one person who was just driving us around to meetings because, I mean, we had no clue we also just, I guess, 21 or something like that, when we started out, and, and I think also for for the other company, just to kind of transition to a more serious angle on the topic here. What I really mean is that having employees is not equal, having success, either in life or in business. I mean, of course, you have to tie your success to KPIs or to I mean, some metrics that makes sense to you if it's impact if it's revenue, or whatever it is. And I think it's kind of similar to the other mantra that we can call it the likes, don't pay the bills. And because so many people are kind of focused on focus on we need so many is some so much PR, we need so much, like so much out of many followers, we need all these colored votes. But in the end, I mean, if you're not growing, if you do not sustain your users, your customers and earn a profit on that. I mean, you're slowly dying.
Josh Tapp 5:49
Yeah. Well, and and so if they're not focusing on your employees, and I know to illustrate this point, it's really funny when you talk to entrepreneurs because you ask them how to They're doing your okay. How's your company doing? I go, you know, we have five employees and you're like, Oh, that's sorry. Having employees is the worst.
Yeah, we do all ours through contractors. But
we've, we found that same thing. You know, it's really funny to hear that's how people kind of measure their success is as if that's like, well, because I could pay those employees, you know, but yeah, yeah, must. Yeah. Anyway. So it's really interesting. But so, you know, if that's not the main measure of success, you're saying growth is the main measure of success? Is that correct?
Nicki Friis 6:31
So So of course, it really depends on what kind of business you are running. And also, what is the goal of the business really, and what we can also may be called purpose if it's not too cliche. So I mean, for some companies, of course, let's say it's a nonprofit companies. They are measured in different ways than let's say a company that's for profit. And either you can run businesses based on if you are going for, I mean, paying out dividends, or if you're going for, I don't know series A Series B Series C. And then IPO at some point, you have different metrics that you want to kind of track if you depending on what kind of success you want in your business. And when I talk about growth, I mean, for me growth is, if you are able to sustain the amount of user, I mean, if you are able to flatten your retention curve, and what I mean by that is that, or almost all types of businesses, they have a really steep dip in retention. In the first couple of weeks of of a new user entering your product, if it's a product based business, at least at some point, you need that that retention curve to flatten out if it trends towards zero, then you're basically slowly dying. So what I mean is that if you have a stable retention curve, you can basically start adding new users up on top, without you can say in without churning all the all the new users that you are getting in That's kind of the foundation for growth. And that's really what I talked about when I talked about that it's not necessarily a pile of success in to just focus on that. I mean, it really depends on what kind of person you are. And why are you in business? I guess, what is the what is your success metric? Jeff?
Josh Tapp 8:20
Yeah, what's ours? See? And that's a really good question. Because I know, I guess, like all of us get stuck in the revenue, right? Right. Yes, it's revenue growth. But recently we've been that's why this really strikes a chord with me is, is we've realized retention is the number one most important thing with our clients because we found you know, as we're testing different products, or what have you, certain ones we can make a lot of money on that front, but then it just fizzles out. And so we're constantly trying to keep up with our sales. But there are certain products that we have that are retainer and if we can just keep the clients to stay longer. You know, and that doesn't even require more money in most cases. It just requires Like adjusting the process? And yeah, so right now really it's been the lifetime value of our customer has really been our core metric.
Nicki Friis 9:08
Yeah, and I mean, if you retain users for a longer period of time, the lifetime value is higher. And therefore you can also afford higher customer acquisition cost in the beginning of the engagement. So it's, it's a, it's really important to kind of focus on retention all the times. And on another note, if you have built I don't know, some kind of acquisition loops into your product, like valatie, or referral programs or other kind of incentives to basically help spread the word of your business or your company, then the longer time, the longer for a longer period that you retain your customers, the more likely they are to also trigger these acquisition loops over time and refer more and more people. It's like with Dropbox, right? When they when you first need storage, you're going to invite let's say free people, and then you'll get 200 megabytes of storage or something like that. At least that was how it was in the beginning. But then at some point run out of storage again. And then I will invite more people. And I will keep inviting more people every time I run out of storage until you can see my network or Yeah, I mean, my contact book is completely saturated. Right?
Josh Tapp 10:13
Right. See, and I love that, especially in the SAS space. Honestly, in any sort of like information product or SAS space, they're really similar and a lot of our listeners are in those spaces. So you know, when you're generating projects, it doesn't really cost you any more to make those changes, right. It has everything to do with just being creative with the process and with the retention. So what are some of the best methods that you've seen to increase that retention? For especially, let's just say in the information product space in particular.
Unknown Speaker 10:47
Nicki Friis 10:49
So I, okay, so, I think for every type of business, no matter if it's information product or whatever it is focusing on the first stage. Have the customers journey is, in my opinion, the most important one. And that's also what we can see from data. So imagine a so yeah, so what I mean here is that the first, the first phase here is the onboarding phase or the activation phase, if you can get people to activate their account. So in most cases, of course, that would be activating or verifying your email address, signing up with your first name, maybe some address details or other kind of contact details, and then maybe setting up your account. Let's take an example. Something like a I don't know a slack. Almost everybody who listens to this podcast hopefully knows about Slack, right. So for for combinate slack Of course, what you need to do first when you are signing up and you are creating a new slack account for for and you want to invite some people into your slack account at some point. So the first step that they that they want you to do To enter your email address, because when you have entered your email address, they can email you a as many times as they want to kind of keep you come to get you to come back to fill out the rest of your profile. So this is kind of like the first step that they're doing. And then the second step, of course, is that they want you to maybe add your first name and create a dis a Slack channel or we can call it and then of course, they want you to invite people because without people slag is not very valuable to people. But what most people should be focusing on and to answer your question here is the onboarding phase, not just for the person who is creating the account in Slack, but also for the people who is invited here. So what I'm saying is that you shouldn't focusing on unnecessarily on a, you can also add gifts to slack. You can also use different commands to do all sorts of crazy crazy things. And you can install these integrations and all these other things. The most important step is to get them to to, to set up their account and create a profile if it's new user, and then basically exchange messages. And then you can start building this habit around exchanging messages within slack in an easy and engaging way, because that's kind of like the main value proposition of slack in my opinion, at least. So, what I mean here is that focus on on the onboarding phase, then you are, you are much more likely to you can say increase where your retention curves flattens out. So let's say if your retention curve is currently flooding out at 20%, so you are retaining 20% of all users on a longer term in a longer period, then if you focus on the activation part, you are more likely to increase that retention curve where it's flattening, if you are focusing on some of the later Later steps in in your customer journey, basically.
Josh Tapp 13:59
Yeah, and I found That to be really true. I mean, you know, when you buy a product, you any product and it's complicated, it just makes it that much less attractive to you to purchase in the first place, let alone to refer it. And I mean, we all know like the the highest form of marketing is advocacy, right? You know, and getting our customers to advocate for us. That's why I like to the dropbox example, you know, giving people a certain amount of usage per per time that they get, because that gives them incentive to do it again and again and again. And I know that there's some that are pretty lame attempts at that though, where they're like, yeah, refer somebody, we'll give you a $5 credit. And it's like, it doesn't sound cool, right? Just tell me Hey, I'll give you a month for free if you refer somebody you know.
Nicki Friis 14:44
But it depends, I mean, look at the PayPal example. Right? They actually gave people money to refer the people in the beginning and it was a huge success. But I guess it depends on kind of like what kind of incentives work for your product. Of course, PayPal is a money exchange. company so it really makes sense to involve some monetary value into there you can see incentive program here.
Josh Tapp 15:06
Yeah, when and yeah PayPal is a great example of that and I know in that that information product space it can be really difficult because you're either selling yeah like a lot of things that people sell right now are more membership area type products and you know we've even fall into that trap sometimes where you know, you're trying to call you have a retainer income amazing, you know, but really building a really great retainer product can be extremely difficult for that reason right? Keeping them for longer than three months is almost unheard of in the info space. Because people have that the domitian the Law of Diminishing Returns right after a while they're just eventually going to say hey, I'm you I've gotten what I need out of this they're not mad at you but they're done.
Nicki Friis 15:48
I can share one thing that I'm doing judge yeah for for for my consultancy. So one thing of course is adding retainers. But then other thing that I'm I'm doing right now it's it's not the Official yet, but it's going to be official very soon is that I'm the first local partner in Denmark for what's called growth hackers calm, I don't know if you know, at community they have in two software tools as well. So what I'm adding on, you can say to my product portfolio is to sell on these services as well, because one of the areas that we work with is kind of like facilitating and helping companies run growth teams, growth experiments, and all these other things. And I'm basically just you can say, enabling the companies that we work with and the clients, we're adding on the software because it's just making it a way easier for them to run experiments afterwards. So what I'm doing here is that I'm adding on this service, and I'm going to get a commission for life on those customers. And I will also have you can say and, and, and insight into how well they're doing in Italy. They allow me Of course, what kind of experiments are they running? Are they successful with it? And then I can basically you can say, a lot of insights into if I should sell on more consultancy hours more workshops, or if I should help them out with a ideation or whatever problems they might have or where they are currently focused that so this is like a way for me to even say build a longer term engagement because I will keep having a even say, a what is called a What is this call Josh? Who can see it on the video? Sorry, I hook into into the shirts of a of the people that I'm working with here.
Josh Tapp 17:38
Yeah, love that. Yeah, I think there's a lot of value in that you know, because if you can create those those hooks you'll be pitching them out. It's a that's marketing one on one, right? It's just throwing a billion hooks out as much as possible.
Nicki Friis 17:53
So look at what good Yeah, and look at what our guy like Neil Patel is doing. Do you know Neil Patel? Oh yeah. He is. buying all these DC software tools out there and, and giving them out for free. So he's basically let's, let's say there's a company here doing something with SEO. And he's basically figuring out a way to build this or he's hiring a team to build this product for free. And then he's basically giving it out for free to all his a customers, and of course, also is part of his you can say content marketing efforts, but this is also a tool. So if if, if people keep using his tool, they will keep remembering him. Right. Yeah. So that's also a way to kind of you can see a in, get the engagement to, to have a I don't know, cure over a longer period.
Josh Tapp 18:47
Yeah, I love that because his his method Neil Patel's method is really interesting because a lot of people think you need a lot of money for that. And he announced a lot of his podcasts or some of his first software's cost of money. Got thousand dollars to build. And they're great. I mean, if you've ever used any, like buzzsprout, or that's where we host our podcast is on buzzsprout. And try to think of the other ones off the top of my head and I can't stopping myself but, but it's really interesting to see that the software really isn't his end goal. He's using it to build like you said that customer attention and keep him in their minds because he can then send sell millions and millions of dollars and things on the back end. But so, you know, we're about to come to the end of the interview here, Nicky so I just want to ask you this one last question. If you could leave one thing with it with our audience and say this is the one thing I hope that you'll you'll take out of this what would that be?
Nicki Friis 19:40
Wow. And so I mean, one thing that I would like to share a for everybody who's listening in because I also know that your audience here is is more experienced entrepreneurs. So if going back to you can say the retention example. So how how we usually you can say goodbye to faces we phases of a customer. So when they enter your product, we call that you can say the adoption phase or the onboarding phase. Then we have the habit phase. And then we have the investment phase, and taking LinkedIn as an example. So first thing LinkedIn want a user to do is not to start building a following, because that's super advanced for someone who haven't done that before. So the first thing that they want, they want you to do something that you have done many, many, many times in the past, and that is basically building a CV. Everybody, I've tried to build a CV when they have applied for jobs. So they basically just want you to apply to you can say, write a CV, that's the first step that LinkedIn wants you to do. And then what they want you to do is basically just sending mails, and I and engaging with other people, but you're also used to sending mails and emails from the past, but you're not used to building a following. So that's something that they add in the investment face or the last face. But the reason why I'm talking about you can say this is This journey is that you need to, you can say, layer on the steps of your product in what is most natural to the user.
That is really what I wanted to say here doesn't make sense. Just
Josh Tapp 21:12
Yeah, I love that. That's a really good insight because you're basically saying like, what, what are they already doing? Give them that for free. And then you're, you're upselling what they need, you're almost like creating the problem for them. And then the software solves the problem. I love that. Well, Nick, thanks so much for coming on today, man. And before we sign off, where can people get in contact with you and with your services?
Nicki Friis 21:37
Yeah, thank you so much judge. So whenever Josh is posting this podcast, feel free to comment I'll be happy to reply to your comments there as well. Otherwise, feel free to add me on LinkedIn it sneaky face. I'll be happy to engage with you answer all your questions. I do also have a podcast called Art of growth. It's very similar to to Josh's here. We are focusing you can say even deeper on retention, acquisition chain strategies, so really in depth with growth, and you are more than welcome to join me there as well.
Josh Tapp 22:08
Awesome. I love that. So make sure you go check that so it's out of growth podcast. I got that wrong the first time so I had to make sure I got right the second time. And then Nicky freeze on LinkedIn. I'll add all of that in the description of the podcast as well. But, Nikki, thanks so much for coming on today, man, and we'll catch you later.
Nicki Friis 22:25
It's my pleasure. Thank you, Josh.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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