“Start, fail fast, and move on. Keep learning. You have to be willing to take risks and fail if you want to succeed.” —Shaun Buck to aspiring entrepreneurs.
With The Newsletter Pro’s 5-year anniversary fresh on our minds, I sat down with our company’s CEO, Shaun Buck, to reflect on what he’s learned from standing at the business’s helm. Here’s what he had to say!
You just celebrated the 5-year anniversary of The Newsletter Pro. What does that mean to you?
It’s exciting, and I’m very proud because a lot of companies don’t make it to five years. I enjoy the reflection, but honestly, I only spent a minute smelling the roses. I’m looking toward the future and thinking about the next goal.
Where do you see the company in the next five years?
I see us being a larger, more diverse marketing company. We’ll create custom solutions for our customers beyond newsletters, manage the whole process for them, and implement. We’ll have a well-known name and presence in the valley because of how many people we employ.
What would you say is your biggest success?
My biggest business success is this company. It does things differently than most other businesses do. We’re creating a for-profit company without profit as the sole motive, and I view this as the start of a great accomplishment. Long-term, I want to change how business is done in the Treasure Valley and make a real cultural impact.
What do you attribute your success to?
Having a kid at 16. — that was the point in my life where I had to decide what kind of man I was going to be. Many guys in that same situation cave under the pressure, but I chose to educate myself and learn. Now, at 36, I have 20 years of experience, but at the same time, people told me my life was over if I raised a kid. Fortunately, it wasn’t the end — it was just the beginning.
How do you balance the demands of growing an Inc. 500 business with being a father and husband?
It’s really hard. I work a lot, but when I’m at home, I try to be present. That means if I’m playing with my kids or watching a movie with them, I’m there in mind as well as body. I don’t carry my phone around at home. And I remind myself that the whole reason I do this business is for them — to give them a great life and be there for the important things.
What really makes it possible is the fact that I have a great team. It’s gotten to the point where they’re solving problems I didn’t even know about, and that’s huge. I know I can take an hour off to go see my kid’s basketball game without my business imploding. We’ve also worked hard to set up systems to keep things moving smoothly.
What would you say is your biggest regret or challenge so far in building The Newsletter Pro?
I don’t focus too much on regrets, because making mistakes is part of the process. As long as you learn from them, mistakes are just a part of who you are and how you made it to that point. My biggest challenge is staying in front of the accelerated growth we have at The Newsletter Pro. I want to make sure that team members and customers don’t feel the impact of our growth, because it’s not healthy for the team, and it’s not fair to our current customers.
Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
Focusing more on culture earlier, improving systems sooner, and probably the biggest thing is finding the right person, not just a person to do each job. I didn’t realize how important hiring for a cultural fit was.
How did your past business ventures influence your approach to building The Newsletter Pro?
I learned to emphasize customer service and retention. You don’t want to lose any customers, because one of your biggest expenses is acquiring a new customer. I also was looking for a business that was scalable, as my previous ventures were pretty much local and limited the growth potential.
What are a few of the most influential books, courses, or seminars that shaped how you do business?
There are so many, but I’ve benefited tremendously from Dan Kennedy’s writings, especially his Magnetic Marketing course. “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber is fantastic, and InfusionSoft’s Elite Forum is phenomenal too.
Why did you decide to build a business focusing on newsletters and relationships?
I believed in newsletters and what they could do for companies. Newsletters are also hard to do well, something scaleable that people wanted, and something that I used a lot myself in previous businesses.
What’s your best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners?
Start, fail fast, and move on. Keep learning. You have to be willing to take risks and fail if you want to succeed.