Rocket Ship Business Academy
By Steve August
Rocket Ship Business Academy is dedicated to supporting business Founders on their entrepreneurial journey. Created and hosted by Steve August, Founder Coach who helps Founders to become the CEO their company needs, and build a Rocket Ship Business.
Steve took his first startup from idea to successful multi-million dollar exit. He's seen the journey from two guys in a startup accelerator room to being CMO of a $100M+ 400 person global company reporting directly to a private equity board.
Steve took his first startup from idea to successful multi-million dollar exit. He's seen the journey from two guys in a startup accelerator room to being CMO of a $100M+ 400 person global company reporting directly to a private equity board.
Ep. 25 Ruthless Simplicity (Your Real Job)
When I was running my startup I loved solving complex problems and creating elegant solutions. As a Type V - Visionary Evangelist Founder Type. And I had a good talent for it. But like a lot of things that helped me in the early stages of my business, my love of creating elegant solutions for complex problems ended up working against us. How could that be? Here’s how. One of the biggest killers of growth is complexity. When you start out with your business, things are naturally simple. You have one product. You have a co-founder or a small team. You (hopefully) have a pretty clear handle on the pain you solve for people. But as the company grows, complexity starts creeping in. Different customer types, different product decisions, staffing decisions, sales channels, pricing models, etc. One of the hardest lessons I learned about being a Founder/CEO is that your real job is to create Ruthless Simplicity Why I call it Ruthless Simplicity How you know you need it, and what it gives you 3 steps to creating Ruthless Simplicity If you are struggling with stubborn challenges, this episode will give you a powerful lens to see your way through. Got questions on leading your business? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll answer it on an upcoming podcast episode!
November 15, 2022
Ep. 24 You're Playing A Bigger Game (Even if you don't realize it)
For the past few months, I’ve been almost exclusively focused on accelerating product market fit and sales. That’s because when it comes to accelerating your business, there’s nothing bigger than accelerating product-market fit and scaling sales. But this week, I’d like to shift gears and talk about something that for Founders, is even bigger than sales, bigger than building and growing your team and bigger than mastering operational brilliance. It’s bigger than building a rocket ship business. It’s the game of you. I call it the bigger game, because it’s the biggest game of all. And your playing it whether you realize or not. You may think that once you achieve your desired goal, that you will be different. That the things about yourself will change. But the reality is that the baggage you brought with at the beginning of this journey will still be there at the end, no matter what outcome - unless you unpack it and deal with it along the way. As a Founder you will face all kinds of stresses. Uncertainty with everything. You will be triggered and your buttons pushed. In this episode, I talk about playing the Bigger Game and give you two powerful questions that will give you the power to change how you experience everything in life.
November 10, 2022
Ep. 23 The Problem With Thought Leadership
I’ve had a few conversations with First-Time founders over the past week that have gone like this: “So, what’s your strategy for build your pipeline and sales?” “Mainly thought leadership and content marketing. “ You may ask yourself, “wait, what could possibly be wrong about thought leadership as a sales strategy?” Well, that’s the thing. Thought leadership isn’t actually strategy. It can be an important ingredient or an element of your customer flywheel. But it’s not a sales strategy on its own. In this week’s episode of the Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast, I cover: What thought leadership gets you… …and what it doesn’t. Customer flywheels and what you need to build them The absolutely critical step to maximize the impact of your thought leadership Need to accelerate your B2B sales and scalable product market fit? Reach out at email@example.com
November 02, 2022
Ep. 22 Find It, Nail It, Scale It
I see a pattern over and over again with both my businesses and the Founders I work with. There’s three times we kinda get kicked in the teeth. The first is when we just launch and test our vision with the market. The second is when we get initial traction and think we’ve cracked it. The third is when we’ve cracked it and then we’ve got to scale it. I think of these phases as: Find it, Nail it, Scale it. In this week’s Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast, I talk through the gotchas of each of these phases - and what to do to break through. PS If you need to break through these urgently, the first 2x Accelerator for scalable market fit and sales is kicking off on October 31. The outcome is simple: To increase your product-market fit and sales velocity by 2x in six weeks. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “2x” to learn more.
October 26, 2022
Ep. 21 3 Things Keeping You From Growing Sales
If I could only solve one single challenge for Founders, what would it be? Answer: Accelerate scalable product-market fit and sales. Because if you figure out this challenge, you have the fuel to figure out all the other challenges. But it’s a big challenge for any B2B business. And there are so many variables and angles on it that it can be overwhelming for First-Time Founders to figure out how to crack it. So broke it down into 3 key things that keep you from product-market fit and scaling sales. Too much Sales Friction Not Enough Customer Conversations Everything At Once Overwhelm In this week’s episode of the Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast, I walk through these 3 blocks and what you need to do to clear them. Steve PS If you need to break through these urgently, the first 2x Accelerator for scalable market fit and sales is kicking off on October 31. The outcome is simple: To increase your product-market fit and sales velocity by 2x in six weeks. Write me at email@example.com with the word “2x” to learn more.
October 20, 2022
Ep. 20 2x Acceleration
As Founders, we dream of building a rocket ship business that takes off, makes a huge impact and creates tremendous financial abundance. It’s a wonderful dream. The reality, of course, is it’s really hard to do. We can’t flip a magic switch and suddenly have our business 10x. But what if we can find places in our business where we can accelerate 2x? Because before there’s a sale, there’s an offer, a prospect, a pitch, a proposal and a close. What if you could systematically identify and create 2x acceleration opportunities in your business. How much knows how much you could increase your business’s velocity? 2x Acceleration is the topic of this week’s episode of the Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast Topics I cover: What 2x Acceleration means at different stages Where to look for 2x opportunities What happens if you accelerate the wrong things (at the wrong time) 2x Accelerator is also the name of a new program I am piloting in November. I’m really excited by the potential for this program to create wins and build momentum for your business. It’s specifically targeted for B2B Founders with a product in market who want to rapidly create product-market fit and sales breakthroughs. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the details.
October 13, 2022
Ep. 19 You Have ONE Job
Founders who work with me know hear something over and over. They hear it so much, they probably get annoyed with me. But it’s the essence of my work. And it’s critical to their success. Here’s how it goes. Client or prospect comes with a laundry list of updates and challenges. Then I dig in with questions and together we figure out “THE problem to solve.” Because usually there’s one underlying problem to solve - and everything else is just a symptom of that problem. You have ONE job: identify and solve that problem. I talk about: 1. How to find THE Problem to solve 2. How to differentiate between THE Problem and symptoms 3. The core problems to solve at each phase of your business... 4. ...the key question to ask that will help you start solving them Have a question you want covered on the podcast? Reach out to me at email@example.com
October 04, 2022
Ep. 18 Sell Your Way To Product-Market Fit
This month is all about troubleshooting sales, the most common pressing challenge selected by the 2000+ founders who have taken my Founder Type Quiz. One of the biggest challenges for any Founder or business is Product-Market fit. Often product-market fit is seen as a distinct challenge than sales. But in my experience, looking at product-market fit as a specific type of sales challenge is really helpful. In this episode, I talk through: 1. Breaking down sales into three core components: traffic, conversion and economics. 2. What sales looks like at 0-1, 1-100, 100-1000 stages of your business 3. Which component to focus on in product-market fit 4. How your Founder Type impacts how you sell 5. Key gotchas with early stage sales 6. What absolutely not to do when working product-market fit And remember: you can’t scale the hard sale! Have a question you want covered on the podcast? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
September 28, 2022
Ep. 17 Fixing Your Web Site Won't Fix Your Sales (and what will)
This month is all about troubleshooting sales, the most common pressing challenge selected by the 2000+ founders who have taken my Founder Type Quiz. Today I was talking with one of my clients and he mentioned that they decided not to renew their social media agency, since they weren’t getting any ROI (something that’s all too common). He was going to turn his attention to their website and update it. I told him that’s fine, but it won’t fix your sales. It’s not that they don’t need a web site. It’s not that social media can’t be an effective channel. In fact it’s not any one thing - web site, social, ads, etc - that will crack the sales challenge and give you the fast growth you are looking for. But here’s what will. There are 3 things that need to be in place: An offer that reliably converts for your ideal customers A way to consistently bring those ideal customers to you And a cost of acquisition and delivery that makes it all worth it Another way to think of it is what Perry Marshall calls the Tactical Triangle: Traffic-Conversion-Economics Of course this sounds simple in theory, but is much more challenging in practice. In this week’s Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast episode, I talk about how to put these in place and what’s required to make it happen: Key topics I’ll hit: The very first step you need to take to make sales go The difference between your offer and your product/service How to create a compelling customer journey Are you a Founder who feels alone in your journey? I've been there! Reach out to email@example.com
September 20, 2022
Ep 16. How To Make Complex Sales Simple
This month is all about troubleshooting sales, the most common pressing challenge selected by the 2000+ founders who have taken my Founder Type Quiz. Recently, when I asked the question, when it comes to sales, what’s your single biggest challenge, one subscribers responded: “Our sales is complex AND is highly affected by timing.” I have personal experience with this as my first startup, the market research software company Revelation had a complex sale that was very highly affected by timing. This made it extremely hard to scale the business! I can’t tell you all the frustrating ways I tried to solve that issue. I tried different marketing systems, different sales methodologies, different team members. I looked for a lot of silver bullets (spoiler alert: there are no silver bullets!). I have to confess I never truly cracked it - until my company achieved its exit and I saw how the people who bought us operated. It was all about making the complex sale simple. In this week’s Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast episode, I talk about how to think through your complex sale and make it simple and less dependent on timing. Key topics I’ll hit: How to simplify a complex sale How your Founder Type works against you (and what to do about it!) How to craft a selling proposition that breaks through the clutter How to identify ways to reduce timing dependencies
September 14, 2022
Ep 15. Growing Sales: The 4 Founder Blindspots
As typical of many Founders, I was always looking for the silver bullet: that one thing that would enable us to bust through and get that rocket ship momentum. We need a killer new product or feature, I’d think. Or we'll get on Hubspot and when the content happens it’s all gonna take off. Or now that we’ve spent a fortunate on Salesforce, it’s gonna happen. Or I know, we’ll adopt ABM (account based management) or some other sales methodology. But those plateaus were stubborn. All of the above promised breakthrough sales but the reality was that nothing delivered them for us. Maybe this is you. Maybe you are in an early stage and trying to get product-market fit. Or may your business had been growing, but sales are increasingly harder. After finally getting an exit on my first startup, and then after starting two other businesses, I started to see the blindspots I had that were keeping me from getting sales were I wanted them. In this week's Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast, I give you the 4 deadliest sales blindspots. Knowing these blindspots will help you unlock your next level sales. I discuss: The essential element that makes all sales go How your Founder type is sabotaging your sales Why sales plateaus happen And….the secret to scaling sales
September 08, 2022
Ep 14. Scaling Sales - The Missing Step
This week’s podcast episode comes in response to yet another question from my list - and it’s one that’s sure to resonate with many Founders. When asked what their single biggest challenge is, this founder answered: ”Scaling to increase revenue and expand services.” Scaling sales is a big topic. There’s a ton of information out there on positioning, building funnels, doing cold email outreach, content marketing, consultative selling. In other words, lots of specific tactics. But just jumping into tactics skips perhaps the MOST important step: defining your ideal customer. Without this step, all of your strategies and tactics may go to waste. In this episode, I give you a simple, yet incredibly powerful framework for identifying your ideal customer. I cover: Walking you through a powerful ideal customer framework How to avoid trying to scale with the wrong customers 2 things you probably haven’t considered in defining your ideal customer Why narrow and specific is crucial to scaling And…an even more powerful way of thinking that breaks through mental blocks on scaling There is a surprise twist to this exercise, that takes it to an even more powerful place. I’m not going to give away in the podcast episode. However, anybody who listens to the episode and does the exercise can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the twist that will create a next level unlock for you!
July 19, 2022
Ep 13. Is Your Personal Brand Hurting or Helping Your Business?
This week’s episode of Rocket Ship Academy Podcast comes directly from a question from my list: Should Founders be equally going about building up a personal brand at the same time we are building up our non-personal companies? For instance, my company is a software and digital publishing company. Should I be actively promoting myself (e.g. puff pieces about me in magazines, 40 under 40 list etc), or can I quietly build massive success with no media attention focused on me? So far, I have spoken at tech conferences and I have a speech therapist. But I wonder, should I be doing more to build a personal image as a founder, or does that not matter? Thanks. This is a great question! And one that actually brings up one of the most important concepts in building a Rocket Ship business: P&L thinking versus balance sheet thinking. In this episode, I cover: P&L versus Balance Sheet thinking, and how knowing this can radically transform your approach to your business How your personal brand as a Founder can be a huge asset to your business…and how it can work against you. How to separate nice “pat on the back” personal brand opportunities from ones that will actually help your business Why there is no non-personal business Have a question or challenge you'd like support on? Send to email@example.com and I will do an episode for you!
July 13, 2022
Ep 12. Why You Aren't Closing Your Prospects (And what to do about it)
”I don't know if it's covid related but prospects that expressed interest are very slow or don't get back to me. How can I get them to respond to my follow ups without feeling like I'm pestering them?” This week’s Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast episode comes from a question I got in response to my recent question to my list, “What’s your biggest current challenge?” When prospects show initial interest but then don’t get back to you, or ghost you, it’s really frustrating. But it’s always giving you some important feedback about something that isn’t working in your sales process. If you are experiencing this, you are not alone. Growing sales is the single biggest challenge selected by Founders in my Founder Type Quiz. In this episode, I break down why your prospects are closing - and what you can do to improve your win rate. I’ll cover: The number #1 most critical thing to get your prospects to take the next step How your Founder type impacts your challenges in selling The 3 areas your sales process could be breaking down How to follow up without feeling like you are pestering your prospects How to feel empowered when selling no matter what the outcome
July 07, 2022
Ep. 11 Revisiting Bad Decisions
I was in the process of writing my weekly Sunday Steve email for my coaching clients, when I saw an email from one of my clients pop into my inbox, "Are you available today for a quick call today? I need some support in planning our next moves before Monday kicks in." This Founder is facing some very hard decisions. Decisions that need to be made quickly and involve dramatically shrinking the team. And in this new configuration there didn't appear to be a place for his co-founder. There were a few scenarios on what actions to take but it's pretty clear what needs to be done. At one point the conversation turned to "bad decisions" made in the past. It's a natural part of the process when you are facing tough decisions to look back and judge the decision path that got you to this point as "bad." In this episode, I cover: How to separate the decisions we make from the outcomes we get How to deal with the "should have's" that show up. The most important question to ask when evaluating past decisions How to win no matter what the outcome
June 28, 2022
Ep. 10 3 Reasons Your Star Hire Didn't Pan Out
Steve"But they looked great on paper...." One of the most common challenges I hear Founders facing is a recent hire that didn’t pan out. It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of Founder life. It feels like you spend a ton of energy, time and money only to end up back where you were, having to start over to fill that position. In this week's episode of the Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast, I reveal the 3 biggest reasons hires don’t pan out - and what to do to give yourself the best chance of making your next hire a great one. Topics covered:How to rethink job descriptions to set hires up for success Why great interviews can be misleading and what to do instead Key warning signs that a hire is not a fit 3 simple tests to ensure you are making the best hire possible Do you have a question you'd like support on? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer in an upcoming episode!
June 21, 2022
Ep. 9 Handcarts, Locomotives and Rocket Ships
In this week's episode I describe the 3 stages of your business: Handcart, Locomotive and Rocket Ship. Clocking in at insight-packed 12 minutes, I talk about how your business needs to evolve and how you as a Founder need to evolve with it. Just a few of the learnings I discuss: 1. How to reduce overwhelm by working on the right problems for your stage. 2. Why Handcart to Locomotive stage is the hardest transition to make 3. When Type V and Type E founder really need Type O's and Type B's 4. How to know if your early team will scale to the next stage 5. The one thing you need to focus on at each stage
June 16, 2022
Ep. 8 The Real Action Is Inside Us
In this episode of the rocket ship business academy. No matter what’s going on in our business, the real action is inside of us. In this episode, I am reading from my book 33 Meditations for Seed Stage Founders. This is a book I wrote in 2020 when I gave myself a challenge to write a daily meditation on entrepreneurship - based on quotes from philosophers and thinkers who I admired. This is Meditation #23, and the quote is from Terrance Mckenna. Terence McKenna was an American ethnobotanist and mystic who advocated the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. This quote caught my attention because it spoke to something that has struck over and over again in life and business. No matter what’s going on in our external circumstances, the real action is inside of us. If you feel like your business is stuck, this episode will give you a surprising path to getting it unstuck.
June 07, 2022
Ep. 7 The One Number That Will Transform Your Business
As a Founder, you’ve likely learned the important of metrics for your business. The thing is, there are so many metrics to choose from. There are financial metrics like revenue, gross margin and profit. There are marketing metrics like CAC and churn. There are product metrics like Net promoter score and month-over-month growth. All of these metrics tell you really important things about your business. But how do you know which to focus on? What if you could have one metric that everyone could point to and understand instantly how it all fits together? What if there was one metric that made it simple for everyone in your company to how to focus their thinking and efforts? Finding this one metric can transform your business. It exists. I call it the Boss Metric. And in this week’s episode of the Rocket Ship Business Academy Podcast, I show you how to find it. This might be the single most impactful episode to date! PS Do you have a question you'd like support on? Send your questions to email@example.com and I will answer in an upcoming episode!
June 01, 2022
Ep. 6: The 5 Disciplines of Rocket Ship Founders
When I started out as a Founder, I believed that product innovation and brilliance was THE key to creating Rocket Ship success. However, business is a merciless teacher. As my first startup grew in fits and starts (and was outgrown by competitors with less innovative products), I learned the hard lesson that product/service brilliance only gets you so far. It's the ability to execute, to effectively guide a team and consistently create customers that compounds over time and ultimately creates the Rocket Ship effect. As a first time Founder I wish somebody had broken down exactly what I needed to master to make my company take off. In this Rocket Ship Business Academy episode, I do just that. In 12-minutes, I break down the 5 disciplines Rocket Ship Founders must master. In this episode, you'll learn: How we had a near fatal Q4 The 4 places to look to find more resources inside your company How not facing hard decisions will always catch up with There's important wisdom packed into these 12 minutes - you'll come away from this episode with a clear understanding of what you need to master to level up as a Founder.
May 25, 2022
You Have More Resources Than You Think
There was a point during my first startup where I thought the whole thing was going to slide off the cliff. This wasn't in the early days - it was later on after we had momentum. We had a stupendously bad quarter and lost over $250k, which was catastrophic for us. It felt to me like we were really strapped and extremely thin on resources. I brought in a contract COO who help me right the ship and one of the biggest lessons I learned from him was that we had so many more resources than I thought - they were just on the other side of some very hard decisions. In this episode, I recount this story, and more importantly I tell you the 4 places to look to uncover the most likely areas to find more resources for your company.
May 18, 2022
What To Do When You Are At The Bottom of The Well
In every Founder journey there is a moment (sometimes more than one) where you find yourself at the bottom of the well. Frustrated, burnt out, feeling defeated, isolated, knowing you have to keep going, but having a hard time seeing how. In this 9-minute episode: I share my own experience at the bottom of the well Why I call them "Swimming pool moments"' Why these moments are crucial for you 3 things you need to do when you are at the bottom of the well to get yourself moving and turn these painful moments into catalysts for your success. How to climb out!
May 10, 2022
3 Secrets to Better Hiring
Hiring. It's easily one of the biggest challenges Founders experience as they scale their business. In this episode, I respond to a subscriber's question about their challenges in hiring the right people - and reveal 3 secrets to help you hire better. While nobody bats .1000 in hiring, I've learned some very hard won lessons over the years. I cover the 3 most important things I've learned to to help you hire better - even in this tough hiring environment. In this packed 12 minutes I cover: The key step that everyone skips in their rush to hire Why job descriptions aren't the best way to think about a role (and the 3 key elements you need to get absolutely clear) Why interviews can be a poor predictor of how a candidate will perform - and what to do instead How to figure out who will be the better team member between two equally qualified candidates How to know within 30 days whether you've hired the right person You'll come away from this episode looking at your hiring process in a whole new light! Are you Founder who has a question you'd like support on? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer in an upcoming episode!
April 20, 2022
Ep 2. How Working Insane Hours Starts to Work Against You
It's often seen as a badge of honor for a Founder to work insane hours. Of course, long hours and intense effort is an inevitable part of the Founder journey. However, there is a point where throwing more hours at your business starts to work against you. In this episode I describe the ways grinding tons of hours starts costing Founders - and how to recognize when your efforts are work for you or against you.
April 14, 2022
Ep. 1 From Founder to CEO: 3 Key Transformations
You get the Founder title by starting something amazing. You also get the CEO title, but the reality is you have to keep re-earning that title until you've made at every stage of the company. Founder to CEO is one of the most challenging transitions for Founders to navigate successfully, as it demands shedding old models of working and embracing behaviors that sometimes feel counter to what got you this far. But often it's a Founders' ability to make this transition that makes the difference between a promising company breaking out or languishing. Going from Seed Stage Founder to confident Growth Stage CEO requires Founders make 3 key transformations. In this episode I describe these 3 transformations and how to navigate them.
April 14, 2022