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Breaking Down Your Business Stacklist

For this Stacklist interview I spoke with Brad Farris and Jill Salzman, the podcast hosts of Breaking Down Your Business, where they tackle complex smalls business questions. They find answers the same way we do here at Stacklist, by speaking with real entrepreneurs and business owners. This stacklist is getting published a bit differently than we usually do because of Jill and Brad also run separate businesses (Jill is the founder of The Founding Moms and Brad is the founder of EnMast) so in one Stacklist interview, I was speaking to two founders, for three different businesses.

What funding stage would you say BDYB is in?

Jill: Bootstrap extrordinaires!

How many fulltime employees do you have?

Brad: 0

Jill: Uhhhh. Zero.

Brad: So the podcast is something that Jill and I do together. But we each have our own businesses separately.

Would you say Breaking Down Your Business is more B2C or B2B? Who are you marketing too?

Jill: I would say B2B. Brad, do you disagree? We’ve never discussed it.

Brad: Our target is business owners, and business owners are themselves consumers.It’s a media model. We’re selling advertising.

Moving into categories, the first is HR administration? Are you using anything?

Jill: Nope.

What about payroll?

Jill: Nuhuh. Nope.

Do you have an email marketing service provider?

Brad: We use MailChimp for the show, and I use MailChimp for my business. I think Jill uses Mad Mimi.

Jill: Yep!

Brad, do you have any pros or cons about using MailChimp?

Brad: I love MailChimp! They do a great job.

Jill: You know what Brad, that’s something we should argue about on our podcast.

MailChimp versus Mad Mimi?

Brad: MailChimp has solved every problem I have sent to them. One time I found an actual bug and they sent me a t-shirt.

Jill: Yeah, but Mad Mimi is so much better.

What makes it better?

Jill: They’re response time is faster than any service I’ve ever used. They don’t just email you back the issue or send you a video, they have someone walk you through the issue. But whatever you get used to you fall in love with, and I’ve used MadMimi for years. They feel like business family. With MailChimp I’m always turned off… Doesn’t MailChimp have the monkey?

Brad: They have the sock monkey, yes. But the best part about MailChimp is when I go to send a campaign, a little pop up comes by and says “this is your moment of truth.” It makes it seem like I’m doing something significant and not just sending an email.

The big red button with the finger!??

Brad: YES.

Jill: Oh my god you guys. And Mimi is way cuter than a monkey. She’s got a great haircut.

Brad: Whatever. Besides, this is a business tool. It needs a sock monkey.

Jill: How Brad does his decision-making.

Brad: Just clarifying things!

Do you use any BI/analytics services?

Brad: We use Google Analytics and for the podcast. And we use Libsyn. Libsyn is a podcast hosting tool that gives you analytics about downloads and tracks them.

What made you choose Libsyn?

Brad: They don’t screw things up?

Jill: It was recommended to us.

Brad: They are really rock solid. They’re the service everyone uses.

Jill: They’re like Google Apps for podcasts.

Do you have a CRM platform for Breaking Down Your Business?

Brad: Nope

Jill: Nope!

Brad: At EnMast, I use Highrise. Jill uses spreadsheets, I think.

Jill: I use nothing! I’m a mess Danny! I’m a mess! Well, I have a brain.

Brad: So you don’t have a list? How do you know who to call?

Jill: This is so upsetting for Brad. We should talk about this on our podcast.


Jill: It’s a magical method that’s hard to explain.

Brad: Hard to explain means not even there.

Jill: It’s in like 75 different places.

Brad: That’s not a method, Jill.

Jill: I never said it was a method. Who said method? I didn’t say method.

Brad: You make your life so much more difficult than it needs to be.

Jill: That’s why I have you in my life.

Brad: To make it more difficult?

Jill: NO. To make it easier!

Brad, how do you feel about Highrise?

Brad: I love Highrise. It’s very simple and straightforward. It integrates well with MailChimp—not so much with MadMimi. I don’t need a fancy CRM. I just need a good shared address book with a way to track who I’ve been talking to and who I need to follow up with.

Do both of you use any project management tools?

Jill: I’ve used all of them at one point or another for maybe 3 seconds. All are nope.

Brad: We use Google Docs for our podcast to keep track of what we’re recording and when.

Jill: Isn’t it a combo of Docs and Dropbox?

Brad: Yep.

Jill: And I use Evernote.

Brad: For EnMast, I use Basecamp.

Jill: I don’t know why we don’t use it for the podcast Brad, but I’m obsessed with Slack.

Brad: We don’t use it because I installed it, used it for a week and then deleted it.

Jill: Well I use it for The Founding Moms. Do you use it, Danny?

I loosely use Slack. Why did you delete it?

Brad: My team is all on macs right now, so we just use iMessage. Why have Slack and iMessage? I don’t get it. I guess that’s the thing—I don’t get Slack. Why not just use iMessage?

Jill: We’ll revisit this. Danny you’re helping us today. I think we should try it, and you’ll get it.

Brad: Why would I want another place for you to send me messages? That’s my worst nightmare.

Jill: But then I would stop texting you, and it would feel less personal! It could be a work thing you could look at when you want to work. It separates the life out of it.

Brad: Do you feel I always respond to your text messages?

Jill: Ummm, yes?

Brad: Oh. Good!

Jill: We could use Slack to send those Google Docs we create back and forth since it uploads them automatically. And then if you mentioned “we have an interview with Danny” 3 weeks ago and we can’t find the info, instead of searching through your email, Slack makes it super easy to search conversations from ages ago.

Brad: But if we have an appointment with Danny, it’s in the calendar… why do I need another thing to search?

Jill you mentioned Evernote. How do you feel about it?

Jill: If Evernote disappeared, I would go into a depression. It has everything in my life in it. I make all of my lists, check my stocks. everything.

Brad: Why not just put it in Slack?

Jill: Slack isn’t a tool for my thoughts and notes. It’s for communicating with other people.

Brad: But you just said it’s super easy to search and find things there.

Jill: I can search and find things in Evernote. We prep Google Docs for show notes, then we email it, then we have a Dropbox for the files. If we used Slack, everything would be in one place and easy to find. If I want to work, I open Slack, if I don’t I close it and no one can reach me. Evernote is everything else that I have to do. If I’m in a meeting I can take notes in Evernote because I know it’ll be on my computer. I put all kinds of stuff in it, like a photocopy of my license. Everything.

Brad: Is your password 1234?

Jill: I don’t think I have a password…

Brad: A copy of your license is in there, I hope you have a password.

Jill: Oh, Brad. There’s much worse stuff in there that anyone can see.

Brad: I’m stealing your phone.

Jill: Danny, you want my SSN? Its 151…

Brad, how do you feel about Basecamp?

Brad: I used to love it for the exact reasons Jill is talking about: Everything is always there. But that’s in a world before Google Docs and Dropbox so now we use it less and less.

Jill: I bet your guys at EnMast would love Slack.

Brad: I tried to get people to use it but they were like “NAH.”

Jill: I made my team use it though, I didn’t give them a choice. Now everyone uses it.

That’s actually what I hear about a lot of tools to make them work.

Brad: People switch to new tools because they want something new and… I don’t know.

Jill: Do you know how many tools I try out every day? Slack has stayed. That’s how you know it’s good because I’m ready to chuck whatever I try.

Do you use a credit card processor?

Jill: QuickBooks.

Brad: I can’t remember.

What about customer service? Like, how do you get your feedback?

Jill: A couple of ways. We constantly ask people to call us or tweet at us, or do any sort of communicating.  We send out emails asking people things.

Brad: We get a lot of feedback on Twitter and email.

Jill: Sometimes, EVEN Facebook!

Would you say there’s a software you use to do it?

Jill: HAH. No.

Brad: She should say Evernote.

Jill: I would love to put in Stacklist, “iTunes” so that people check us out and leave reviews.

Your file sharing tools…?

Jill: Google Drive and Dropbox.

Brad: File sharing is mostly Dropbox. Drive is mostly for collaboration to work on documents together.

Jill: But now that we’ve talked about it, it should be Slack. But, WHATEVER.

Brad: I don’t want to put files in Slack, that’s so weird.

Jill: It’s not weird, it’s fantastic!

Brad: Where does the file go if I put it in Slack?

Jill: It like, knows. It just knows.

Brad: I want to have my files somewhere I know where they are.

Jill: But you will, you silly man, you will!

Do you two use any recruiting tools?

Brad: I use NewHire. No tools for the podcast, but I use this for my business. I love it.

Jill: For my business I use… emailing friends. And Brad. Mostly Brad.

Brad what makes you like NewHire so much?

Brad: Two things I love: One, I only pay by the job. I don’t pay for it if I’m not recruiting. And it’s just a great management tool which means I don’t have to look at a bunch of resumes. It lets me sort through and mark people as qualified or unqualified and it saves me tons and tons of time. If I’m recruiting for a client, I won’t do it unless it’s through New Hire because I hate an inbox full of resumes.

What about social media management tools?

Jill: That would be me. I use Hootsuite. I only use it for Twitter even though it has all kinds of uses. I love it enough to keep using it. But I could live without it because I’m on Twitter less and less.

Brad: I use Tweetbot for Twitter. It’s just a desktop Twitter client. It has an iOS version. Tweetbot lets me manage multiple accounts. It doesn’t schedule or any of that fancy stuff, but you can save searches. What I like the best about Tweetbot is the mute filter. When Jill is going on and on about her #DownersGrove Founding Moms’ Exchange, I can just mute that word and never have to see her tweets again.

Jill: I didn’t know that!

Brad: Yeah it’s awesome.

Jill: You’re probably the only person who knows that.

Brad: I am not the only person to know that.

Any content marketing tools?

Brad: Breaking Down Your Business is on WordPress. EnMast is on Rainmaker.

Jill: Founding Moms is on WordPress.

This would also include tools to help you make your content.

Jill: We use a producer, a microphone, soundboard, and big brains.

Brad: What do you use for images, Jill?

Jill: Pixlr!

Brad: And I use Canva for EnMast.

Do you two have any productivity tools?

Jill: Every tool is a productivity tool! Do you have examples?

Email tools like Boomerang, or virtual assitants, etc.

Brad: I use TaskPaper for keeping organized. It’s just a plain text list making tool that I really like. I use Drafts on iOS, which is a big productivity tool for me. My version of Evernote is NValt which is just a plain text database of files. I’m kicking it old school. Oh, and I use Authorize.net for credit card transactions.

Jill: And I use Braintree for credit card stuff.

For office space, do you have your own office?

Jill: I would call Brad’s office a podcast studio.

Brad: And I think Jill works remotely? Or in a coworking space?

Jill: Oh I’m currently at Soho House, but I hop around.

Other than the categories we discussed, are there any other tools you’re using?

Jill: I use BigMarker for webinars. Between BigMarker, Mad Mimi, and… hmmm. I had a longer list in my head.

Brad: BigMarker hosts webinars. We also use Skype. There’s no way we could record our podcast without Skype. We bring all our guests in via Skype. There’s a tool called Skype Call Recorder that lets you separate the audio streams, so you can have inbound streams and outbound streams separate.

Last question, why do you feel it’s important for startups to share their stacklist?

Jill: That’s easy. It’s so helpful for entrepreneurs to help one another. So many are scared to ask others what they’re using.

Brad: And because, all of us are smarter than one of us.

Jill: Oooooh.

You can listen to Jill and Brad on their weekly podcast.

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