How a tech executive crossed $1.3M in revenue with no-code businesses
Justin Welsh is a former tech executive turned entrepreneur. He coaches SaaS founders and sales leaders to accelerate recurring revenue toward $50M+ and has worked extensively with no-code tools to build businesses.
He tweeted recently how his one-person business had made a lofty $1.3m in revenue in just 810 days. He runs his business online, and doesn't use a lick of code.
Of course we were curious to find out more. Here’s how he did it!
Hi, my name is Justin Welsh and over the last decade, I've helped build two $50M+ ARR companies, teams of 150+ people, and raise over $300M in venture capital. Then, in 2019, I completely burned out.
So, I walked away from my executive job at a fast growing startup in Los Angeles to work for myself. My goal was to completely redesign my life with more intention.
Over the last 2 years, I've built a number of one-person businesses.
Last week my little one-person business crossed $1.3M in revenue.
It took 810 days, I ran zero paid ads and operate at a ~98% margin.
I run a boutique advisory firm for early-stage SaaS entrepreneurs. I also build digital information products for creators & solopreneurs, run a private community for creators, and mentor entrepreneurs in LATAM via the 500 Startups mentorship program.
Recently I've started investing as an LP at GTMfund, a firm investing $4 million per year into early-stage B2B SaaS companies. When not working, I can be found enjoying a craft beer or going for a walk with my wife.
Multiple businesses, zero code
All of my businesses are built using no-code tools, but I'll start with my advisory business: JW Advisory. I started this business by leveraging a template on Carrd. I knew I wanted a simple, clean, user-friendly website solution, and Carrd is my go-to.
Next, I needed to collect inquiries from potential customers, but also needed a lightweight CRM solution to manage my pipeline and paid customer base. I opted to create a CRM using Airtable, then built an Airtable form to embed on my Carrd website to collect the inquiries.
I love this because the form pipes the information directly into Airtable, where I use automation to move prospects from one stage to the next. I've set up distinct stages that are each tied to Airtable automations. So, when I qualify a prospect, an email is automatically sent to the prospect including my Calendly link to book a call.
Once I have the call, I move the prospect forward to "Pricing sent" and an email is automatically triggered by Airtable automation to send all of my pricing information. Inside of that email is a hidden page on my Carrd website where I've embedded subscription Stripe widgets which allow prospects to choose the package of their choice, enter their payment information and begin an advisory relationship.
Zapier, Carrd, Google Calendar, Gumroad & more
Once a payment goes through, I use Zapier to automatically create a Google Drive folder, agenda document, and send the customer an email with all of this information for easy access. If the customer decides to cancel their subscription, an automation is triggered through Zapier which creates a calendar invite on my Google Calendar to cancel payment.
My digital products also all run on no-code solutions. I build all of my product landing pages using Carrd then use Gumroad widgets to sell the products directly on those Carrd landing pages. Once someone purchases my course via the Gumroad widget, I use Zapier to send them into the course in Teachable.
Gumroad has the easiest purchase flow, while Teachable requires buyers to enter information like their physical address, which lowers conversion. But, I prefer Teachable's student experience over the one in Gumroad, so I don't mind paying the extra fee for the Teachable subscription.
Because I've sold over $100k on Gumroad, I pay a minimal 3% which is great. Once inside of Teachable, users are prompted at the 50% mark and the conclusion of the course to leave a testimonial.
Rather than boring text testimonials, I've embedded the Testimonial.to-collecting widget inside of the Teachable course. This allows students to click one button, and instantly record a video testimonial.
I've also embedded the Testimonial.to "Wall of Love" on my course landing pages, so as more video testimonials are recorded, the landing page updates itself. It's been a huge win for me in terms of social proof and conversion increase.
2 weeks after someone purchases my course, I use the automated "post" feature inside of Gumroad to send the student an email asking them to join my affiliate program. This keeps the course sales growing at a really nice pace.
Running Audience & Income
I use a ton of no-code for my private community, called Audience and Income. It's a community of 465 creators from 51 countries sharing best practices on Slack. I was prompted to build my digital courses and community because I saw a lot of people struggling to figure out how to build their audience and business in the new creator economy.
I thought back to when I was starting in 2018, and I wished that I had a product that I could've consumed to help me shortcut the learnings, and a community of like-minded people that I could have leaned on for support. Back then, I didn't know how to find those things, so I decided to build them as a way to support other creators.
I chose to run my community using Carrd for the website, and Outseta for nearly everything else. Here's how it works: I built a form using the Outseta form builder which I connect to the Carrd website. This allows people to apply for the community, keeping standards high. Once they apply using the Outseta form, they are stored as an applicant inside of the Outseta CRM.
Community-building on Outseta
Using Outseta's segmentation and email automation tools, I can review the applications, accept or reject the applicant, and based on those actions, emails are instantly sent to the applicant sharing our decision. Once accepted, applicants are directed via email automation to a hidden page on my Carrd website where I've embedded the Outseta payment widget.
Once the user pays, the Outseta email automation does two things: Sends them an email with an invite to our Lu.ma community (where we have a member directory, host events, and have our resources folder) and it also invites them to our private Slack channel.
I've integrated Slack with Lu.ma so if someone sees another member inside of the Lu.ma member directory, they can use the integration to instantly begin a conversation in Slack.
One of the biggest downsides of Slack is that it's tough to "kick" users using automation. So, if members choose to cancel in Outseta, I use Zapier automation to create calendar invites in my Google Calendar including the cancelled members name, email and subscriptions dates. So, I wake up and look at my Calendar and simply manually remove the cancelled user from Slack. This is one area I'm studying to better understand my automation options.
Building a synchronous community is hard. Once you make that choice, your options really become Discord and Slack. Neither of those options comes with effective solutions for a member directory, events platform, or resource center. Because of that, I felt a bit lost on how to "hack" it all together in the beginning.
Luma was really helpful, because it provided the tools I needed to run my community, and Outseta really helped me tie the two pieces (Luma and Slack) together in a way that seems less "hacked" together. I still think there is a major opportunity in the community market to solve this problem.
My no-code stack + a piece of advice
Landing pages: Carrd
Course Payments & hosting: Gumroad
Community memberships: Outseta
Community chatter: Slack
Website Analytics: Fathom
Customer CRM: Airtable
Business Payments: Stripe
Course recording: Loom
Customer Docs: Google Drive
Custom Integrations: Zapier
The two biggest mistake I see creators making are:
1. Focusing on tools over product: They spend a ton of time trying to find the perfect tools for their job. They spend a ton of time, energy and money to get everything set up perfectly, and they never validated that people actually want what they are creating. No-code tools make it so easy to validate an idea in 1 day. I'd recommend spending as little time and money on the first version of what you build, and instead focus on validating the idea with your audience.
2. Procrastinating: The 2nd biggest thing I see creators doing is not getting started. They want to read one more blog, listen to one more podcast, ask one more question or try one more tool. The answers you are looking for are all found when you get started. Just push the ball forward and you'll learn way more from talking to prospects and customers.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Justin! You can follow his journey on Twitter and LinkedIn.