Always, always, always be testing. There’s a common trend with entrepreneurs — they have an idea and just GO for it without validating that idea first…Failing to test an idea — no matter what it’s for — is the easiest way to risk failure.
Gaby Roman is the founder of Coaching No Code Apps, a place for founders, startups, and business owners to learn and build fully functioning apps and software with no coding required. Courses, consulting, and in-depth lessons teach students how to effectively use no-code tools to build, grow, or start their business.
Prior to starting Coaching No Code Apps, Gaby worked in video post production in New York City. She now runs her business entirely remotely while keeping a constant pulse on the startup scene around the world.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
In 2014, I had an app idea I wanted to turn into a minimum viable product, but I had no technical background in programming. The logical option was to hire a development agency to build out my idea.
About $20,000 later, I had a rough rendition of the product, but it was seriously lacking a lot of core functionality. In other words, that $20k didn’t get my project very far.
Since this was just an idea I was fleshing out, I couldn’t continue to spend more money before I’d even done any real testing. The current state of the project didn’t give me enough to launch in a beta version, though.
Instead of putting the project on hold or funneling more money into it, I started searching for alternative options.
Soon, I realized there were full-fledged platforms out there designed to help non-coders build functioning applications. I poured myself into learning the ins and outs of building a “no code app.” Eventually, I got to the point where I was helping other people build their own apps and realized there were many more people like myself who were in desperate need of a way to learn how to build an app without programming. That eventually led to my company being created.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts by answering student questions in my courses and membership site. They’re very active in building their apps and come up with lots of ideas that need extra attention.
After that, I spend about 5 hours doing high-level consulting with startups and founders on how to build and launch their apps. Most are creating industry-wide solutions, like software for hospitals or dentists, for example. They’re working on pitching to investors and scaling their applications, so it requires a lot of focused effort.
The most time consuming part of my day is answering emails, but I stay productive by using Help Scout, which lets me keep track of conversations and quickly reply with the necessary information. In fact, the third party tools I use are what attribute to most of my productivity. Asana is another one I don’t think I can operate without at this point.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life in the application world takes a lot of logical thought process. It involves many hours crawling through data and back-ends of apps, and maybe even more so looking at markets and doing industry research.
There’s a lot of creativity that goes into building an entire app startup or SaaS company, but the majority of successful ideas come to fruition through deep research, analyzing data, and endless testing. It might sound boring, but it can easily suck you in!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Artificial intelligence is something we’re seeing more and more in big applications. I always remind students that apps are made for convenience, which should always be the focus of a project. AI is something that takes that convenience factor above and beyond. Thinking about the possibilities of it is truly exciting.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love putting on my Bose noise cancelling headphones at the start of a workday and just powering through my to-do list before meetings and calls. It helps block out all the distractions happening around me. Plus, I’m constantly finding new playlists that make my mornings more upbeat. It’s a small habit that makes a big difference in both my mood and productivity levels.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d remind myself not to be afraid of saying no. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always had a habit of saying yes and being a people pleaser. The thought of telling someone I couldn’t help them just didn’t make sense.
As I’ve grown and learned, though, I now realize always saying yes can be detrimental on both sides. Sometimes, my business might not be the right fit for a certain customer. In the past, I might have tried to change my business to fit their needs. Now, I know exactly who my business is right for, and I have the perfect referrals when I think another resource might be more beneficial for someone.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Soundtracks of Broadway musicals are the absolute best things to listen to while working. Especially Hamilton.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Test! Always, always, always be testing.
There’s a common trend with entrepreneurs — they have an idea and just GO for it without validating that idea first. Unfortunately, I see a lot of that when it comes to building applications.
Failing to test an idea — no matter what it’s for — is the easiest way to risk failure (or debt).
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The core of my business revolves around helping people. I’ve always focused on results before money, and I attribute a huge chunk of my success to that.
Truly helping people comes in the form of providing excellent customer support, even in frustrating situations. It happens when someone reaches out to me with a question, and instead of putting up a pay-wall, making sure they know all their options before moving forward. It also involves providing people with something valuable before asking them for anything in return (in my case, I run a regular subscription with free content and tutorials, regardless of whether someone’s a paying customer).
If you can find a way to make people feel like you’re putting them first, you’ll build lasting relationships that’ll help your business continue to grow for a long time to come.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest things that kept my business from growing sooner was not reaching out for help. I was swamped as a solopreneur at the start, but I just thought that’s “how it went.” I didn’t realize that reaching out for help not only helped me, but also my customers and clients.
I overcame it when I learned that I wasn’t inconveniencing people by asking them for help. In fact, I was giving them an opportunity to grow right alongside me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A service that reviews hotels and rental properties in person to evaluate how good/bad they are for business travelers with remote offices. I’ll be your first customer.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought a 1-year planning tool for business growth. I’ve always had my own spreadsheets and methods, but having a physical planner puts things in an entirely new perspective. It’s a tool to help me set larger business goals and break them down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly steps. Disorganization can be the downfall of a business!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Asana has made the biggest difference in my personal productivity, as well as the productivity of my business as a whole.
My team is on Asana, and we organize all our business projects and tasks using timelines, graphs, to-do lists, assignees, and more.
I log into Asana everyday to check my immediate to-dos. I then collaborate with team members over ongoing projects. We update each other and check in on progress, then add next-steps as new tasks.
It’s like a constant growing and evolving back-end for my entire business operations. In the past, I was using multiple tools, like Slack and Trello, for example. Asana combines everything I need, though, and keeps it all in one place.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Work Less, Make More by James Schramko is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Schramko helps you evaluate exactly how much your time is really worth. Your salary might be multiple 6-figures per year, for example, but how many hours are you working each week to maintain that? Most of the time, it’s well over 60, 80, or even 100.
That means, if you’re making a $150k salary per year, for example, but are working 80 hours per week, you’re really making less than $40/hour. Shramko’s book helps you bring those hours down, while bringing your salary up.
What is your favorite quote?
“The way to get started is to quit talking and being doing.” -Walt Disney
You can talk about, plan, and brainstorm on your idea forever. Until you actually put something out into the world, though, nothing will ever come of it.
- If you can find a unique solution to a widespread problem, you can turn it into a business.
- The ultimate key to success is truly helping people.
- The next step is knowing who you can help, and who you can’t.
- Testing and gathering hard evidence is the smartest way to move forward with any business or idea.
- Never be afraid to ask for help.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.