7 Lessons from 3 Months of Pain

Hey there, 

Welcome back for another bite to chew on

In this newsletter, we'll talk about one of the things that every single one of us will inevitably face at some point in building our businesses.

Hard times. 

It's easy to talk about the good times, the great times. 

High fives, big growth, bigger dreams.

Where everything is just working..

Cashflow ⇒ Positive

Ads ⇒ Crushing 

Team ⇒ Motivated


What about when you face those dark days when the opposite is true 

You're bleeding cash

Your ads are just not hitting right 

And your team loses their morale to do great work. 

The thing is - regardless of what stage of business you're in, you will face those times. In fact, you'll face it more often than you'd probably like.

We just went through one of those times about nine months ago, for three consecutive months. Now that we've bounced back from it and just had the best quarter in Obvi's history, we feel like we can pass on a few things we learned.

So, let's get real for a moment and talk about how to tackle those hard times. 

Give attention to what matters & ignore everything else.


The one thing that all entrepreneurs and ambitious employees (what we like to call intrapreneurs) struggle with. 

Focus was the reason we grew Obvi to an 8-figure brand in possibly the shortest amount of time anyone in the collagen industry has ever done it. 

And it was also the reason why we got our asses beaten for three months. 

In this section, we'll talk about three types of focuses

  • Organizational focus

  • Intra-business focus 

  • Day-to-day focus

Let's start with the first one. 

The classic trap that most people fall into once they start tasting a little bit of success is thinking that they're Superman. 

They think that just because they built one successful brand, they can build 10 more - at the same time.

Here's the kicker: 

You're not Superman, and you can't do 18 things at the same time if… 

… if you're the main operator of the business. 

Can you do it if you hire a completely separate executive team and you solely act as the president / executive coach to your other businesses? 

Yes - absolutely. This has been proven many times by many other companies - and we've also now successfully done it with Chew On This and GAAS.

But can you do it if you use the same team and executive team as in your first business? 

Probably not. At least we couldn't make it work. 

So - if you're going to do multiple things, make sure that you're NOT the main operator of those businesses, but rather just the owner / executive coach.

The second one is intra-business focus. 

You see all these new shiny strategies, tactics, and tools all over your news feed and in your inbox.

… and, obviously - you're tempted to test it out because if others are successful with it, why shouldn't you be, right? 

We, ourselves, are part of creating this problem with our social media content and newsletter. And, although we believe it gives more benefit than harm - there's a limit to how many strategies, tactics, and tools you can test out at once.

Sometimes, it's better to just focus on what you've found to be working for you and double down on that, than to try to mimic everyone else's success in an attempt to find more ways to grow.

Does that mean you should NEVER test out new stuff? 

No, absolutely not! 

It means that you should be cautious on what effect it can have on your business and the activities that are currently already working for you AND driving impact for your business.

Takeaway: Don't test everything you see online. Be critical, and set a limit on yourself. 

The third type of focus is "day-to-day focus". 

This is maybe the most important one.

When you're going through tough times, it's easy to look at the output - i.e. the red P&L and the low ROAS and get demotivated. 

"F**k, nothing is working for me, I must be really bad at this" 

We hear this a lot of Mentorpass calls with founders, and we're guilty of doing this ourselves, too.


For god's sake - focus on your inputs rather than your outputs. That is the only way you can solve any problem. 

Can you control advertising platforms being finicky and not working as they used to? 


Can you test 50 new creatives per week and four new landing pages? 


So please please please, focus on your inputs - and not your outputs. Particularly if you're going through hard times.

Rip the band-aid and be selfish.

When things are going bad, you need to cut operational costs. 

You need to lean out and have hard conversations. 

About 9 months ago - our team was a tad too bloated because we thought we needed all kinds of roles in-house.

And… on top of that, we had a few people who just didn't meet our standard bar of excellence.

So when times got hard - we knew we needed to do something to cut operational costs and lean out, but… 

We waited too long to actually rip the band-aid off and have those hard lay-off conversations because we prayed that times would get better and we truly liked and cared for those people.

However, after seeking help from some of our investors and mentors, we quickly realized that doing that was causing us more harm than good. 

So we did it. 

We ripped off the band-aid. 

We laid off multiple people to lean out the team, and we got stressed as hell for a period of time with all the extra work we had to take on.

But… on the flip side, it helped us get through the hard times AND also showed us what was truly driving impact for the business. 

So here's the takeaway: 

If you're going through hard times, understand that you need to make organizational changes. 

Understand that you need to lean out and do it fast. 

And - understand that it will not be easy. 

But you have to do what's right for your business, and that often hurts a lot.

On the flip side, what will hurt even more is if you don't do anything about it. 

We did that for too long, and as a result - we suffered the consequences. We want to make sure you don't suffer that as well.

Communicate as if your life depends on it

When times are hard - your team will lose their morale. 

It doesn't matter if they're a co-founder, an employee with equity, or just a salaried employee. 

Everyone will struggle to bounce out of bed in the morning. It will be tougher to log in or show up at the office. Frustration and stress will be more obvious on Slack or in emails...

Your role as a founder is to mitigate that, to the degree possible, by communicating - A LOT and often. 

It's crucial to do this, regardless of how well or bad your business is going - but even more important when it's going bad.

Because the last thing you want is for a key employee to leave or your co-founders secretly resenting one another or their team.

So, two takeaways here are: 

  1. Never try to hide the fact that things are not going well.

  2. Communicate A LOT, and often to make sure that everyone feels heard and that they know that better times will come eventually.

The latter is oftentimes harder for employees to see, but this is where you need to pour some of your founder-enthusiasm unto them.

And actually - a third takeaway. 

Leadership isn't only about the numbers, the strategies, the tactics. It's all of those things, for sure. But you're also the executive CULTURAL officer. Everyone will queue off you emotionally. It's even more important to keep the motivation and momentum up when things are down.

Stress over finances

There's a quote that says "What gets measured gets managed". This is particularly true with regards to finances.

It doesn't matter what day it is, or what time of the day it is. You need to know and understand every line item in your P&L and cash flow statement in order to get through hard times (and also to grow faster in hard times).

Here's a few practical examples of how we do it: 

  • Negotiate with advertising platforms like Meta.

    • We started with a Net seven payment term, then a net 15, and now we have net 30

    • Then we'll pay this wire through a credit card that gives us another 30 days to pay

  • Negotiate shipping and fulfilment costs as you grow.

  • Offer your manufacturer to pay them a little bit more if they give you better payment terms.

  • Cash is more valuable than debt right now. So although the rates are insane, it's actually as hard to go and find capital - if you blow it all away. Therefore, what we do is… 

    • Use credit lines

    • Use credit cards with good float.

      • Never rely on one credit card. Always change based on rate, terms, and float.

  • Use the just-in-time principle for inventory management. 

    • This means that just as we're about to run out of stock, a new inventory order will arrive - and therefore, we're never sitting on too much inventory.

There are many more things you can do on the finance end when it comes to timing billing cycles and using specific tools for specific purposes (ad spend, inventory, etc) - but that can be a newsletter of it'sits own.

The key takeaway is: Stress over finances -  particularly Cash Flow - and be creative in your approach to increasing your runway.

Do what you can to stay in the green and work like hell every day to optimize it just a few %. 

Invest in your P&L 

Shaan Puri, Investor and host of My First Million (one of the top business podcasts in the world), said something quite interesting in his latest pod. 

"Invest in your P&L". 

This is something we've done for a long time, and something that we strongly urge everyone to do.

Investing doesn't just mean investing capital into the service providers, manufacturers, or tools that you use in your business. 

It also means investing in the relationship with them and trying to get some extra support from them. 

But more importantly, it also means helping THEIR businesses by using YOUR network so they can help your business. 

Here's what we mean: 

We have a pretty big network of founders.

If we get asked about what we're using for X, Y, or Z  - we immediately try to to connect them with one of our partners.

Once you've done this a few times, your partners will start asking you how they can give back to you (rule of reciprocity) - and oftentimes this includes some type of kickback or affiliate commission.

If you do it right and enough, you can use that kickback to offset some of your costs and therefore save your business money.


Obviously, you need a network to do this - so let's just call that another takeaway.

Eat shit

When going through hard times, you just gotta eat shit.

That's the takeaway. 

Eat shit, and get through it. There's no other way around it. This is the game we all chose to play, and the "prize" we sometimes have to accept is extended periods of shit-eating. 

Hate it or love it - that's the game. 

Tool of The Week

Our favorite types of tools are the ones that require NO time to set up from our end and deliver immediate impact to the bottom line.

Here’s one of them

Aftersell just launched their Network offers, which we’ve been lucky enough to beta-test for some time and the results have been beyond incredible.

We’ve added $0.45 in NET PROFIT to every order we get, which is equivalent to about 15% increase in AOV for us - WITHOUT doing ANY work.

Here’s how it works

  1. A blue-chip company like HULU or Amazon Prime wants to reach the same customer that is about to place an order with your or just placed an order with you

  2. The blue-chip company will place an ad on your checkout or thank-you page where they give a relevant offer to the person who’s about to buy from you

  3. If the customer takes the offer - let’s say 2-months free HULU subscription, you will get paid - without having done anything other than just showing a relevant offer to a relevant customer (see example below)

It’s a Win-Win-Win for all parties.

This is one of those things that any brand should test out, because A) It can drive a lot of impact to your bottom line and B) it doesn’t require much energy to set up from your end and C) the payment model is results-based - so you have virtually no risk in testing it.

If you want to test out - click here to learn more about Aftersells Network offers today and add up to $20-30k in NET profit for every 100k orders

Thanks for reading along 

We hope you liked this week's newsletter. We know it was different from some of the previous topics we've written about, but we hope it was useful. 

We felt like this piece of writing needed to exist, to hopefully help just 1 of you get through hard times.

If it did help you, feel free to reply to this email and let us know so we can write some more war stories (they're kinda fun to reflect and write about too)