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How EcomBalance Grew to 100 Clients and $50,000 MRR in 12 Months

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Hey! Thanks for being interested in how EcomBalance grew to such heights in 2022.

 

I’m Connor Gillivan. The CMO and an Owner of EcomBalance.

 

Let me start by rewinding the clock to October, 2021.

 

My business partner, Nathan Hirsch, and I were grabbing lunch in Denver, Colorado (where we live).

 

We were brainstorming new business ideas and one of us mentioned the idea of a bookkeeping service, specifically for the eCommerce industry.

 

For the past 12 months, we had been advising startup companies and we realized there was a problem.

 

The Problem: Business owners rarely have their monthly bookkeeping figured out. They don’t know how much they’re making each month and it impacts their ability to grow the business.

 

Over the next 3 months, we brainstormed the idea and interviewed 100+ eCommerce business owners to further validate the idea.

 

Low and behold, the problem wasn’t just impacting the business owners we were advising. It was also greatly impacting entrepreneurs in the eCommerce space.

 

The Solution: With data backing up our hunch, we decided to start EcomBalance in January 2022.

 

Fast forward 1 year later and here we are.

 

EcomBalance now:

 

  • 100 clients
  • $50,000+ MRR
  • $350,000 total sales in 2022
  • 25+ person team

 

So, how did we do it?

 

These 5 factors:

 

  • Factor #1: Properly Researching the Market Opportunity
  • Factor #2: Hiring the Right Financial Controller
  • Factor #3: Focusing on Repeatable Systems and Processes
  • Factor #4: Not Compromising on the Client Experience
  • Factor #5: Going All In On Organic Marketing Strategies

 

Let’s dive into them.

 

5 Factors That Helped EcomBalance Grow to 100 Clients and $50,000 MRR

 

When reflecting on the past year of growth, these 5 factors were the most influential.

 

Without any of these 5 factors, we wouldn’t have made it to 100 clients and $50,000 MRR.

 

I’ll break down each one below. Let’s get into it.

 

Factor #1: Properly Researching the Market Opportunity

 

 

When you have a new business idea, it’s important to make sure that it’s actually solving a real problem for a specific group of people.

 

We had a hunch that eCommerce business owners were struggling with their monthly bookkeeping, but we didn’t go all in just on that hunch.

 

We spent 50+ hours interviewing 100+ eCommerce business owners asking them questions.

 

Here’s what we asked them: 

 

  • How are you currently handling your bookkeeping?
  • Are you happy with the current solution?
  • What could be better?
  • What are the biggest pain points you have?
  • If there were a service that did XYZ, would you be interested in using it?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for such a service?
  • In addition to monthly bookkeeping, what would you want out of the service?

 

With that data, we were able to see that there was a clear hole in the market.

 

Yes, there were other eCommerce bookkeepers and services out there, but there were still plenty of eCommerce business owners that weren’t happy with their bookkeeping.

 

Here’s what came from these 100+ interviews:

 

  • Our first Beta clients
  • Critical feedback on what to include in the service
  • An initial marketing push for the brand once we launched
  • Market validation

Without it, our first year in business could have looked a LOT different.

 

Factor #2: Hiring the Right Financial Controller

 

 

With a validated market and idea, the next step was to hire the right Financial Controller.

 

Since Nathan and I are not CPAs or Bookkeepers ourselves, we needed to bring in a 3rd founding member that could bring that expertise to the company.

 

The success in year 1 truly rode on us making the right hire for this position.

 

Fortunately, we recruited and interviewed for 2 months and found the perfect person for the job.

 

Our Financial Controller fit all of the boxes: 

 

  • Past experience running a bookkeeping business
  • Past experience running an eCommerce business
  • 20+ years of bookkeeping and accounting experience
  • CFO and CEO of a rapidly growing retail chain in Denver
  • Ambition for the EcomBalance vision and mission
  • Located in Denver, Colorado

 

I remember saying to her in the interview process, “This seems too good to be true. What skeletons do you have in the closet that we’re missing?

 

Turns out, it was too good to be true and we couldn’t be happier with having her a part of the EcomBalance team.

 

If we made the wrong hire though, it would have set us back months and potentially detracted us from growing the business further.

 

Factor #3: Focusing on Repeatable Systems and Processes

 

 

With a validated market and idea AND the perfect Financial Controller for the job, the next thing we had to figure out was our systems and processes.

 

We’re systems and processes guys, but we aren’t bookkeepers so it was a challenge in the first 6-12 months to figure out the best way to run the operations of the business.

 

But we didn’t let that lack of bookkeeping expertise slow us down.

 

Here’s what we did: 

 

  • Tapped into the knowledge and experience of our Controller
  • Networked with other bookkeeping business owners
  • Used our own experience setting up marketing and sales ops to make our bookkeeping processes as efficient as possible
  • Hired smart, experienced bookkeepers to help us hone the processes
  • Tested, measured, and made adjustments every single month
  • Hired a Bookkeeping Expert Consultant to advise us on our operations

 

Here’s what it resulted in:

 

  • Clean Up and Catch Up team of bookkeepers
  • Monthly Bookkeeping team
  • Month end close process
  • Pricing, Integration, and Kick Off process
  • Communication protocols for all clients
  • Much, much more.

 

Without taking the time to focus on our processes, there’s no way we would have been able to service 100 clients in the first year.

 

Processes mean everything in Year 1.

 

Factor #4: Not Compromising on the Client Experience

 

 

For all of the businesses that Nathan and I have built together in the past (Amazon business, FreeUp, Outsource School), client experience has been a top focus.

 

Our goal is not only to provide a service, but to make the experience as smooth and simple as possible for the client.

 

As entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand what it’s like to work with a service provider that isn’t on top of their stuff.

 

It can be frustrating, hard to communicate, costly, and time consuming.

 

We want all of our clients to feel like they’re being taken care of and if we make any mistakes, they are being correctly quickly.

 

For all of 2022, we focused on the client experience and here’s what we built: 

 

  • A client portal where you can easily upload documents and see your monthly reports
  • An efficient Integration process
  • A system to get clients a pricing quote within 1 business day
  • Clear and regular updates to clients as we’re working on their books
  • Easy ways for clients to get in touch with us
  • Monthly findings and recommendations on their books

 

If we had pushed client experience to the side, we wouldn’t have 100 satisfied clients.

 

Factor #5: Going All In On Organic Marketing Strategies

 

 

You can’t get to 100 clients and $50,000 MRR without great marketing.

 

We knew that and started on our marketing playbook early on.

 

Here’s what we focused on: 

 

  • Partner Program
  • Affiliate Program
  • Great website design
  • Multiple lead magnets
  • Weekly email newsletter
  • SEO keyword focused content
  • Partner generated content
  • Podcast interviews
  • Direct sales outreach
  • Content marketing

 

We now have systems and processes and team members set up to run all of these organic marketing strategies for EcomBalance.

 

It’s driving 3,000+ unique people to our website every single month and leading to 100+ businesses requesting pricing quotes every month.

 

If we hadn’t focused on setting these marketing processes up in 2022, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

 

EcomBalance Year 1 In Photos

 

Year 1 was a whirlwind.

 

We started the business with brainstorms and meetings in coffee shops.

 

Those moved to Zoom as we hired more people.

 

We continued to meet in Denver every month.

 

And we got our team together in the Philippines in November.

 

Follow the story with these photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Next?

 

We’re excited about 2023.

 

Year 2 of building a business is always more fun (at least from our experience).

 

Year 2 is when you can scale faster, take on more clients, and continue to improve on the client experience.

 

In Year 2, we’re focused on reaching 300 total clients for EcomBalance and AccountsBalance.

 

There’s millions of online companies that need bookkeeping.

 

Why can’t we bring on another 200 in 2023?

 

We believe it’s possible.

 

And we thank you for being along for the ride.

 

Keep an eye out for monthly updates in 2023 as we add clients, hire more Bookkeepers, increase our marketing efforts, and drive more education around business finances.

 

Cheers to 2023!

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Connor Gillivan

Connor Gillivan

CMO and Founder of EcomBalance. Founded FreeUp (acquired in 2019). Founder of Outsource School. Published Author. Investor.

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