Get More Done: How to build a successful SaaS business

Guillaume’s first company only had six sales. 

But that didn’t stop him from trying again and building lempire: a profitable SaaS business that’s now worth over $150 million.

The best part? Guillaume did it without any investment capital, which ended up being one of the keys to his business success.

Tune in (or read below) to learn why doing things you shouldn’t can make all the difference, the value of authentic video content, and why you should always coach your employees to be their best selves.

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Listen to episode 25

 


In the episode “How to Build a Successful SaaS Business,” we discuss

  • The story of how Guillaume went from his first failed business to lemlist, his most well-known SaaS software
  • How starting a company without any investment capital forced Guillaume to get creative
  • Why he began sharing his business journey publicly
  • His top three tips for how to build a successful SaaS business: build your network, document everything, and focus on execution
  • Guillaume’s top productivity hack: setting balanced OKRs
  • Why he thinks writing is the most underrated skill
  • Why it’s important to coach, challenge, and help your employees reach a new level
  • Why people are key in any company and how Guillaume learned that the hard way
  • How his team stays efficient: finding the right balance, connecting with each other, and having a clear accountability system
  • Why Guillaume focuses so strongly on video content and his advice for how you can do it, too
  • What’s next for lempire: investing in people and scaling the business

Favorite quotes

“You need to have zero ego at first, and step by step, you are able to grow the company. So for me in the early days, I had to think and be a bit more creative because there was this thing that we didn't have money, that forced me to do the things that couldn't scale, and that actually helped me understand the market.” - Guillaume Moubeche

Once you lift those mindset limitations that you can't be free and you can't create something on your own, and you realize that, your life changes entirely. And for me, it was such a huge discovery that I want more people to feel the same and have the same feeling when it happens.” - Guillaume Moubeche

Most CEOs are afraid when their employees are building a really, really strong personal brand. Because they feel like, ‘Yeah, they're going to leave, et cetera, et cetera.’ ‘They're going to have more leverage, blah, blah, blah.’ I don't think that way. I'm more into investing in people and helping them grow.” - Guillaume Moubeche

“I realized that people are the key in any company. Because, as we said early on, the execution of what you do is going to make you successful or not. And if you don't have the right people and if you can't manage them right, then it's a dead end.” - Guillaume Moubeche

“If you start, you have to commit. Don't focus on the outcome, focus on the outputs. So lots of people are going to say, ‘I want 10,000 views on my videos,’ don't focus on that. Focus simply on saying, ‘I want to create at least one video every day for the next hundred days.’ If you do that, at least you have your focus.” - Guillaume Moubeche

Copy of Images for blog posts (3)

Meet today’s guests, Guillaume Moubeche

Guillaume is the CEO and co-founder of lempire. He’s on a mission to inspire 1 million people to launch and grow profitable bootstrapped businesses.

He built lemlist, an email outreach and sales engagement platform that gives you the ability to start more conversations with your prospects, communicate across multiple channels, and build win-win relationships with them.

In 3.5 years, Guillaume and his team went from $0 to $10 million in ARR at lemlist, 20k+ customers worldwide, all without any funding.

He loves SaaS businesses, B2B growth strategies, and cool people.

Productivity resources to explore

“How to Build a Successful SaaS Business” full transcript

This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and readability.

Ben (00:00):

From YouCanBook.me, this is Get More Done, the blueprint for managers to lead happy and productive teams. I'm Ben Dlugiewicz, and my mission is to help you stomp out inefficiency so you can focus on work that will grow your business. And how do you grow your revenue exponentially? Our guest today, Guillaume Moubeche explains how he and his team at lempire have gone from zero to 10 million annual recurring revenue in just three and a half years. lempire is a family of different SaaS tools, all designed to help build the future of relationships. Their signature platform, lemlist helps sales teams boost sales with powerful automation. Guillaume shares how his team works best, why he doubled down with video, and how and why you should too. He also shares why doing things you shouldn't will lead to success. All of that on Get More Done starting now.

Ben (00:58):

All right. Welcome back to the Get More Done podcast where we talk about all things productivity and helping you and your team level up. On today's episode, I'm sitting down with Guillaume Moubeche, the CEO and co-founder of lempire, which is a SaaS conglomerate that helps B2B professionals build relationships. So Guillaume or G, welcome to the podcast.

Guillaume (01:19):

Thanks a lot for having me. I'm super pumped to be here as well.

Ben (01:22):

Yeah. As I mentioned earlier, I'm super pumped to learn everything about your journey and how you're doing things at lempire. But before we get into that, we have an icebreaker question that we ask every guest to break the nerves up a little bit. And for you, since you love potatoes so much, if you were a potato, what way would you like to be cooked?

Guillaume (01:43):

I guess I'll be French fries. I mean, with my accent, it's...

Ben (01:49):

French fries, that's the easy one. That's the given one. Would you put anything on your French fries? How do you do French fries over there?

Guillaume (01:55):

So yeah, the way I like my French fries is when they are cooked several times. So what we call it is you put the French fries first, and after that, you have to fry them one more time. This is when they're extra crispy, and then a lot of salt, and yeah, that's just the way I like them.

Ben (02:13):

Yeah. Super crispy, I'm on board with that, absolutely. Double fried. Usually, when I say that over here, people are like, "What? You want me to fry them again?" I'm like, "Yes, cook them how I like them, please." Awesome. So take me back to the beginning of your journey, because you started out as a chemical engineer and now you're an entrepreneur. So how did you get started in business?

Guillaume (02:36):

It's a good question. So after I graduated with my Masters in Chemical Engineering, I also started studying marketing. And during my Masters in Marketing, I wanted to start doing real things. So I started a business with my dad, which was a T-shirt business. So the idea is, my dad can print on fabrics and I was doing business. So I was like, "Okay, I'm confident that I might be able to do something." We started it. I think it took us three months to build a website, et cetera. I was putting a lot of pressure on my dad so we have enough stock for when we pressed live. And when we pressed live, I was convinced that there would obviously be thousands of people coming on the website and buying our T-shirts. But in the end, it didn't happen. I think we made six sales. Total fail.

Guillaume (03:32):

And after that, my dad was feeling bad because he didn't know what happened. On my end, I felt like shit because yeah, my dad had sacrificed a lot, his entire life for my brother and me. And to me, it was super important to give back, and be able to build something with him was something important. But a few months after that, yeah, our relationship didn't go as well as it could have and I decided to stop the business and start a lead generation agency with another friend. So the idea of the agency was simple: help other companies find their clients. I knew that for me, it was difficult before. So I said, "Okay, at least I can get paid to try to do it for others and see whether or not I can level up my game."

Guillaume (04:22):

And I started doing a lot of outbound and sales prospecting. And step by step, we had a bit of clients all over the world. And after using all the tools on the market, we were basically saying, "Put your sales on autopilot," but actually you have to do the work when you're a sales rep. I decided that there's got to be a better way, a tool that could personalize and help you do all these things without selling you an outcome that is not true and really deceptive. So in 2018, I decided to start lemlist, which is our most well-known software, which is a sales automation platform. And step by step, we grew it to where we are today. So north of 10 million dollars, tens of thousands of customers worldwide, 85 plus countries, and a team of 50.

Ben (05:15):

Yeah. What a journey from your first enterprise with six sales and now just pouring gasoline on it. And that's really awesome that you pivoted to a digital framework too because as you saw with having actual merchandise and physical products, that can be quite a beast to get started, so it's really rad that you pivoted there. And as you've been building lempire, you've been doing it in public which is really refreshing. And you've mentioned that constraints force creativity. So I'd love to learn a little bit more about that and any examples that you may have about that.

Guillaume (05:48):

Yeah, definitely. So to me, it's basically that we started the company with a thousand dollars and now it's worth more than 150 million and we never took any investment. And the thing is at first, if we had money from the start, so let's say we had raised a million or whatever, I can't say that we would be at the same stage today. Because the fact that we didn't have money back then forced us to do two things, the first one is to do all those things that don't scale. So at first, I had no ambition when I started my company. My ambition was super small, meaning I want to be able to pay the rent and not have my girlfriend pay it anymore. So it was my life goal. And basically, step by step, I was like, "Okay, I need to get these first clients. I need to get the second one, the third one." And I was doing all these little things that don't scale, but that was extremely helpful because one, I was using my product a lot. And two, I was talking to our customers or potential prospects each and every day.

Guillaume Moubeche Quote 1

Guillaume (06:55):

And the fact that I didn't have the money, for example, to run ads or do all the things that you can because when you have money, it's easy to be comfortable behind your computer and say, "Oh, you know what? I can hire people that are going to do sales. I'll hire someone who'll do marketing. I'll hire a support expert," et cetera. But down the line, you are the owner. You are the CEO. You should be able to know how to do every single thing and you should know your market really, really well. But all those things like sales, calling people, emailing them, messaging them on LinkedIn, all those things are extremely painful because most of the time, you get slapped in the face. And you need to have zero ego at first, and step by step, you are able to grow the company. So for me in the early days, I had to think and be a bit more creative because there was this thing that we didn't have money, that forced me to do the things that couldn't scale, and that actually helped me understand the market. And then after that, there was also another part, which was, we launched initially on a platform called AppSumo where basically you sell a lifetime deal, which means that in two weeks we made, I think it was $160,000 or something like that and we had thousands of users.

Guillaume (08:14):

And back then I was the only one doing customer support. So by doing customer service, and I was doing this on three shifts, I realized I'm just going to die. It's too much for me. So the fact that I didn't have the money yet to hire someone and really build up the team, I just thought, "Okay, you know what? I'm just going to go and start creating a community. That way, I will put a lot of content in the community, and then people will be able to help each other. And step by step, we will grow the biggest community in the world." And I am a hundred percent sure that if I had had the resources or financial resources, I would've never done that. And I would've never been in that position where you have so many constraints and so little or very little money, that you have to come up with ideas that are just going to help you grow, but also reduce your workload.

Ben (09:11):

Yeah. And pressure either breaks pipes or makes diamonds, so that's the thing. And if you're resting on your laurels and you have a lot of money in the bank, then you don't take those risks and everything.

Guillaume (09:22):

Exactly.

Ben (09:23):

And with AppSumo, yeah, that's a bit of a beast because a lot of people flood in and they're like, "Oh, I get this for a lifetime now." And you're like, "Oh great, now I have to support you doing that." And the pivot to the community, is that where this a mission to help a million people start businesses, is that where that came from, building that community up?

Guillaume (09:42):

I think it took me... Because to be entirely transparent in the early days, I was thinking that the only path toward success was through raising funds. So I think I spent about three weeks talking to investors, et cetera. And then they were like, "Who the fuck are you? You're a guy who started a T-shirt company and failed. Then you had an agency and you want to go into SaaS. You're a chemical engineer with... You make no sense, man. Can you please stop talking to us?" And then they were like, "Yeah. Even if you are a nice guy, the market is way too competitive. If you do 1 million within five years, you can consider yourself lucky." And I was like, "Holy fuck," initially, because for me it was the only path to success. I would go at it, and go at it, and go at it.

Guillaume (10:29):

And then I received a message from someone who I had onboarded on the platform maybe two weeks before that. And I had spent about an hour or so to entirely redo his sales prospecting campaign, because in the early days of lemlist, each client that I was onboarding, I was essentially giving him for free what I would charge 500 bucks or 600 bucks when I had my agency. So I had done that and the guy told me that thanks to the campaign, he sent me an email, he was based in Australia and he sent me a, "Hey G, I just launched my campaign and I closed two deals out of it, which mean that I generated 40K in revenue and now I can hire my first..."

Guillaume (11:14):

And then I was so happy for him, and at the same time I was like, "I'm not making any fucking dollars out of it. I really need to change my mindset when it comes to business." But then, in the end, this is where I stopped trying to really focus on the VC money and all these things, because I was like, "What makes me happy is when I'm able to change people's life or impact it in a positive way." And from that moment, this is why I wanted to start documenting everything. This is why I wanted to start sharing my journey publicly, et cetera because I knew that it could inspire or help other entrepreneurs when you're feeling down to just get this little extra motivation.

Guillaume (11:58):

And the mission with entrepreneurs, I think it came a bit later when I realized that in my network, there were so many entrepreneurs who were following their journey, getting inspired, et cetera, that I said, "You know what? This is really and truly what I love when I meet someone, I give them some advice or I give them actionable tips. And then five or six months later, it's like, 'I've been following you. I started my company, we are celebrating that we can pay ourselves the first salary.'" And I'm like, "This is fucking awesome." Because once you lift those mindset limitations that you can't be free and you can't create something on your own et cetera, and you realize that, your life changes entirely. And for me, it was such a huge discovery that I want more people to feel the same and have the same feeling when it happens.

Guillaume Moubeche Quote 2

Ben (12:58):

Yeah. That's got to be a good feeling that you're making that large of an impact, and now it's exponential as your company grows, more and more people are seeing that impact. And on that, what advice do you give to people thinking of starting their business? What are the top two or three things they need to be doing?

Guillaume (13:15):

I think the first thing that I give is: to build your network as quickly as possible, document everything you do, and execution is basically the number one thing you should focus on. Because your ideas might be good, but if you don't know how to execute, it'll never work in the end. And the other thing I'd say, because I think there used to be the grind mindset, which I think where people were pushing a bit too hard on the hustle, like 24/7, et cetera, et cetera. And then I think started to come the total opposite of four hour week or we need to be chilled, et cetera, et cetera. And we started having the extreme opposite, and I was like, if you want to succeed in business, you still have to work hard. Don't hustle and die 24/7, but you have to work long hours and this is the truth. So hard work will pay off.

Ben (14:17):

Yeah, absolutely. And that execution, even if it's imperfect, you're still making progress because a lot of people just are in research mode all the time. And all these startups are building in stealth mode and you're like, "Okay, all right." Just put some sunlight on it and see what happens. So one of your core values is get shit done and I love that because that's what this whole podcast is all about, but what processes do you and the team have in place to help you stay productive and get all that shit done?

Guillaume (14:48):

It's a good question. So I think we use OKRs, like a lot of companies, so objectives and key results. What we try to do is every quarter, each team member should reflect on what they've been doing in the past quarter and set up their next key results. So I set up basically a company vision with the biggest goals, et cetera, and then everyone tries to fit in that vision. And then after that, we review all the objectives and key results. I usually challenge the team. Some of them are, I would say, sometimes too optimistic, others not enough. So it's just trying to help them find the right balance. I feel like since I was the only one doing business until 1 million in ARR, I had the chance to see a lot of things when it comes to marketing, support, sales, et cetera, which give me the credibility toward the team on what can be done and what cannot be done.

Guillaume (15:52):

And at the same time right now, we also have... So to me, what I think is literally the most underrated skill ever is knowing how to write, because writing, whether it's a Slack message or an email, can really entirely change your world. It took me a lot of time to understand it, but when someone sends you an email, everything is outlined well, it's clear, it's easy and you feel like a breeze. You don't have to reread it or be like, "Oh shit, what is that person meaning," et cetera, those are the people that are loved and it's making people's life easy. It's so nice and so underrated. But to be good at writing, you need to find a purpose. And for me, whenever I have people joining on the B side, I make people write and I make them write daily.

Guillaume (16:49):

So it sounds like a bit of a... But it works really well, in the sense that I have this coaching program. When I help each and every person who joins lempire to build their own audience and personal brand. So each and every morning, we spend about an hour as a team all together in our virtual office on lemverse, and we are in a virtual room and we all write. And the idea is that each person has their own vertical. So let's say that you are working for example, as a copywriter at lemlist, your vertical is going to be about copywriting. If you are working in sales, your vertical is going to be about sales. If you're working in branding, your vertical is going to be in branding, et cetera, et cetera.

Guillaume (17:36):

And the reason why I'm asking people to do it is because I think that if you want to become the top 1% or 0.001% of an industry or a skill, you need to teach it because the more you teach, the more you make the knowledge your own, and writing helps you have clarity on what you learned and also own a specific topic. So I've set up basically a very actionable coaching program where people can just follow the steps. And I also coach them through different sessions and help them build their personal brand. And it's huge because you see people who joined us a year ago, who were basically no one on LinkedIn, you would never see them. And now they are just at the top of the first page all the time, getting hundreds and hundreds of likes. And this is great because for them it helps them grow faster. It helps them build an audience, which means if, down the line, they want to start their own business or change their company, et cetera, they would have tons of leverage.

Guillaume (18:46):

And for us as a company, it's also amazing because if everyone sees the best of people in our company, and they're like, "Those guys have literally hired the best of the best in every single department," it makes people want to join the company. So it's really a virtuous circle. And at the same time, it makes people aware of our brand and what we do, which down the line also brings customers. So that's something we've implemented and we've seen a lot of success.

Guillaume Moubeche Quote 3

Guillaume (19:18):

And where I see actually a lot of companies holding back on this, because most CEOs are afraid when their employees are building a really, really strong personal brand. Because they feel like, "Yeah, they're going to leave, et cetera, et cetera." "They're going to have more leverage, blah, blah, blah." I don't think that way. I'm more into investing in people and helping them grow. And I feel like as long as you're bringing value to your employees and really challenging them to go to the next level, they'll stay with you as long as they're motivated. And if they are not, it's just time for a change. I mean, you're an entrepreneur, you should know that too.

Ben (19:56):

Right? Wow. That's very insightful and awesome that you built that. Is that training course going to be public sometime so everybody else can reap those benefits or are you going to keep it under the cuff?

Guillaume (20:09):

A lot of people ask me about that. Right now, I would believe that I still need about six months to a year before making it public. Just because right now, I'm really scaling it. So I did it unofficially with a few people first and now we are around 20 in the team, I think, running it and it's working quite well. So I just need a bit more time to refine the program, and down the line, I might launch it as a course. Yeah.

Ben (20:43):

Yeah. It becomes lemwrite, or lembrand, or something.

Guillaume (20:47):

lemlearn.

Ben (20:49):

Right? There you go. You already probably got it mapped out. That's awesome though. But yes, I think you nailed it. Just that thought leadership, because it just bolts their own personal brand and then your brand as well. And it's all about that consistency of writing every day. Really awesome. So how large is your team now?

Guillaume (21:06):

We're just shy of 60, I think. So it's 55 or 57.

Ben (21:11):

Yeah. And a handful of folks are working in Paris and then the majority are remote. So how has that hybrid work been going? How do you stay productive when you're all over the place?

Guillaume (21:23):

Yeah. We have our virtual office where everyone is all day. So no matter if you are at the office or in any country you want, we can always hang out. But I do think that it just fits what people want, and I think that's the most important because personally, I love the office. I love being with people. I love real life and all things, but I know that people really love being remote. And sometimes on my end, I do love to be remote as well because for example, this winter, I spent three months in South Africa and I was far away from the team, but I worked my ass off. I was super productive. It was really, really awesome. And when I'm in the office, I'm not as productive, but I have a different impact on the team as well.

Guillaume (22:14):

So for those who are here, we can have this casual chat sometimes at night where we have dinner or all these things that there are these conversations that would never happen if you are just fully remote. So for me, it's just a matter of finding the right mix and just trying to connect overall with your team. But yeah, overall I think it's pretty smooth. And when you have defined, I would say a clear accountability system, where people know what they're accountable for and you hold them accountable, I think everything is pretty smooth no matter how you work or where you work from.

Ben (22:51):

Yeah. And having the tools like lemverse where it's just a place for people to hang out. So it's just like you don't feel isolated or alone because in Slack, it's like if nobody's messaging you, then you're out by yourself, and that's really cool. I'm excited to check that out and play around with that. So, going from zero to 10 million in three years, fully bootstrapped, is there anything that you would've done differently in the last three years?

Guillaume (23:17):

That's a good question. To be entirely honest, I'm so happy with the spot we're in right now. I feel like if I say yes, I would be lying because I'm already really happy. But again, I think I had to make some mistakes in order to become the person I am today. And I do feel like if I hadn't made these mistakes, I wouldn't have learned all those things. But down the line, some of the mistakes I've made, I think most of the time it comes to hiring or people management because obviously, I'm quite young. So it took me a bit of time to get used to this mindset of hiring fast, firing fast, or even firing people.

Guillaume (24:03):

And in the early days, because we had a small team, I would spend way too much time trying to coach people who were not really a right fit for the company. And because I had spent all this time, you end up in this vicious circle where you're like, "Well, I spent six months coaching them. They're not performing. Maybe it's my way of coaching. Maybe it takes too much time." And you just continue to invest in someone that is worse. The time you're spending, either because they're not passionate or either because whenever you hired them, did not do the right job.

Guillaume Moubeche Quote 4

Guillaume (24:41):

And I think that, yeah, after some time, I realized that people are the key in any company. Because, as we said early on, the execution of what you do is going to make you successful or not. And if you don't have the right people and if you can't manage them right, then it's a dead end. So I would say that's the biggest mistake or the thing that I would do differently is to focus from the start on recruiting A players. And if someone is not, it's okay. Just move on and stay small.

Ben (25:18):

Yeah. I think that's a tough lesson to learn of just knowing when to cut ties with folks because in the early days, you formed those relationships, and those bonds, and they're family, but you're like, "If you're not helping us get to that goal and you're not a good culture fit, then we have to let you go." Yeah, that's tough, but very practical advice. So let's talk a little bit about lemlist, your main SaaS tool, how does that help people save time?

Guillaume (25:43):

Whenever you want to message people either to build a relationship, get to know them, and down the line, close them if they can be potential customers. You're going to have to send to a specific audience your messages, so lemlist allows you essentially to do that on multiple channels. So you could say, I want to send an email, then I want to send a LinkedIn message, et cetera, et cetera, so to create the scenarios. And on top of it, the key thing whenever you do sales is following up, meaning that a lot of people get a busy inbox all over the place. And if you don't follow up, you usually don't get any replies. And lemlist allows you to basically automatically follow up whenever people don't reply after a certain amount of days.

Ben (26:31):

Awesome. Yeah. And then follow up, I think is key with that, and a lot of people will drop the ball and not worry about those things. So having a system at your back and a tool to help you do that is really, really awesome. So one of the things that was really interesting as I was researching everything that you've done is, you really doubled down on video, even hiring a videographer as one of your first hires. So what advice do you have for a company or a team that's looking to do more video marketing and go that video route?

Guillaume (27:01):

Oh, that's a good question. Our tagline is actually, do what you shouldn't. So hiring a videographer when you're a SaaS company, people will be like, we were just saying, "What the fuck? This guy is just a maniac who wants to have a videographer on his team." But I do think that to me, video is just a good, right way to connect on a much more emotional level with your audience or the person around you. So my advice would really be like, be natural, don't try to be someone else. Don't try to create something that's not you.

Guillaume (27:36):

And when you do that, you should not sound or look too corporate because right now, especially when you see the biggest social media at the moment, and where all the metrics are going through the roof is TikTok. And TikTok is about a lot of authentic videos where people are just like, no filters, and it's the opposite of Instagram on that end. And I do feel like this is a trend that people really enjoy. And same on YouTube, you have a lot of people who have a very poor setup, just a camera or a phone and they're talking, and this can work well. So at first my videographer was mainly editing and the videos I was recording were mainly going through my phone and doing a very simple thing. So my advice is to start small. You don't need fancy equipment, fancy microphones, et cetera, to get started. Just get started, record as much as possible, and stay natural because the thing is, people will buy your product because of you. If you are a CEO or a marketer, they will buy your product because of the trust they can get.

Guillaume (28:47):

And if you are not yourself, people are going to feel it and they're not going to trust you. And if they don't feel it, you're going to feel it and you won't be able to be consistent. Because after a bit, you're just going to be like, "Who the fuck is that guy or that person? It's not me. This is not the real me." And down the line, if you want to really build an audience and grow, you have to be consistent. Consistency is literally the one thing you need to become the best at what you do. So that would be like, I would say my three pieces of advice. So be yourself, record with no fancy equipment so you can get started really quickly, and be super consistent.

Guillaume (29:31):

If you start, you have to commit. Don't focus on the outcome, focus on the outputs. So lots of people are going to say, "I want 10,000 views on my videos," et cetera, don't focus on that. Focus simply on saying, "I want to create at least one video every day for the next hundred days." If you do that, at least you have your focus. At least this is something you can control, and down the line, you will see an audience building up and you will get all the little things that are going to give you the energy to continue to do that for a year, or two, or three, or four.

Guillaume Moubeche Quote 5

Ben (30:03):

Yeah. That's amazing advice. And I think a lot of people might be scared away from just showing themselves, but as long as you are yourself, then it's going to be everything that the audience wants anyway. It's just that authentic person and then just that consistency of doing that. So the question I have is when you have lemlist, lempod, lemstash, lemshow, lemroad, lemverse, lempire. What's the significance of lem? Where did that come from?

Guillaume (30:31):

So it's actually a great question because back in the days, it's actually my dad who found lemlist as a name. So lemlist was our first project, and afterward, we kept the lem and we decided to call the company lempire. So lem for my dad stands for Lunar Excursion Module. And he was saying with lemlist, you're going to bring your customers to the moon, and I kept it and I really enjoyed it. Because my goal in the first days was really to have something that was easy to say in any language with two syllables, so quite short, and where I could get the dotcom domain.

Guillaume (31:11):

So we were talking about emails, then list, and then he said, lemlist. And then I was like, "Oh, I love it. Let me check." The dotcom was free. It was a word that did not exist. And then down the line, fast forward four years later, you see lemlist and you see hundreds of thousands of results on Google, et cetera and you're like, "This is what I built from scratch," and this is quite exciting. So I love to have a word that didn't exist before. To have created something that's around. And yeah, it's nice. It's just a nice feeling.

Ben (31:43):

Yeah. And I totally know where you're coming from. I search google domains all the time on the WHOIS database and just like, "Is that available? Could that be a business? Is that a thing?" And then now you're standing on top of all those results, so well done on all that.

Guillaume (31:56):

Thanks.

Ben (31:57):

So your goal for this year was to do 30 million in annual revenue, now you adjusted that to 20 million. How are you setting these targets and ensuring that your team is not getting burnt out with this acceleration?

Guillaume (32:13):

Yeah, it's a good question. So initially, the idea behind aiming at 30 million was, if we would have slowly focused on lemlist and be really going all-in with all our team, et cetera, et cetera, on it. But then we realized that, yeah, we loved doing multi-project, and based on our global vision and on the fact that our mission is all about helping more people, we decided that, "Okay, we would go to 20 million, but this would be the year where we would be really structuring our company for this multi-projects vision and long term vision. So instead of doing 3X, I think I focused on saying yeah, 2X sounds like a very ambitious and, at the same time, doable goal.

Guillaume (33:07):

To answer your question about how exactly I set up these goals. To be honest, the goals that we set are just a mix between being ambitious enough, so the team feels really challenged, and at the same time being realistic. So I just usually look at our months over months growth rates and I try to project it over time. And because last year, we made that mistake to hire a bit too quickly. We had to restructure the team at some point, which was quite tough. But I think a lot of startups have to go through that phase. And if they don't, I think it crumbles later on, so it's better to do it quickly.

Guillaume (33:48):

And it was on my end to be honest, my fault, a hundred percent. I felt like I let my ego get too much in the way of our vision and everything because when you're bootstrapped and you have other people asking you like, "Okay. Yeah, how big is your company?" Et cetera. If you say 10 people, people obviously think it's a very tiny company, even though you can be making millions, but they think you're a small company. But when you say yeah, we're 30, 25, et cetera, people start saying, "Oh yeah? Really? Wow, that's big." And then three months later it was like, "Oh yeah, we're 40 now." And it's like, "Really?"

Guillaume (34:26):

And I had this feeling that the more we were hiring, the more we were doing something cool and that was nice to have more and more people. But actually, I felt like the culture was not there anymore, that people did not fit and that we are letting go. And for me, it was the worst. When you don't recognize your company and the values and everything, so I had to restructure everything. So that's why if I rearrange, I would say our goals for two reasons, first one is just the main vision and strategy about going multi-projects, and hence on the technical aspect, we have to do some changes that are very important. And secondly, it's just matching the team and challenges.

Ben (35:11):

Yeah. And that specialization, I think, is going to be key of just having those groups just focus on that one offering. Because as you have so many things, if you're doing a scattershot, then potentially all of them will fail. So it's awesome that you are taking that and restructuring everything. So apart from those revenue goals, what's next for your team?

Guillaume (35:33):

So right now actually, we are scaling the team. So we have created a specific department with the people department where they are really helping. My goal is for people who join us to become the best at what they do. So, instead of focusing too much on the outside results, et cetera, I've shifted my focus toward the team and toward making sure that they are in the best position possible to learn. And for that, we have decided to invest in coaches, training programs, outside courses, all these types of things because we hire people we trust and we want to invest in them. And for that, outside help is something that we value.

Guillaume (36:22):

And I do feel that sometimes you hire people who are a bit junior or want to change positions, and for that, you sometimes need to have outside help. And so for me, I think this is really a heavy focus, and for the team, we have so many exciting projects that I feel everyone is just excited about what's coming next. And we're always trying to be more creative and do things that we shouldn't. And yeah, I think it's quite exciting.

Ben (36:58):

That's awesome to hear. So where can folks go to learn more about everything that you and the team are working on?

Guillaume (37:05):

So lempire.com has pretty much all our projects. And if people are curious, they can reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. So Guillaume Moubeche, probably very difficult for you to spell it, so I guess we can put a link in the show notes.

Ben (37:21):

Yeah. We'll create a blog post and put all that information up on our site as well, awesome. So G, it has been great to talk with you to learn everything about lempire and all the great stuff that you and the team have built so far and continue to work on. And thanks for all the great advice with everything. Hope you have a good rest of your day and you have a good weekend as well.

Guillaume (37:41):

Thanks a lot, Ben. I really enjoyed our chat.

Ben (37:44):

Awesome. Take care.

Guillaume (37:45):

You too. Take care.

Ben (37:48):

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