Key Lesson From Selling a Business for $75 Million at 28

Key factor of success noone talks about

Reading time: 3 mins.

There are two stages to the life of a business owner:

  1. You’re full of energy, trying to grow using every tactic there is out there, using every channel. Everything compounds and this is where the growth happens.

  2. You already know what you’re doing, but growth gets difficult. You try this and it’s not delivering the expected results, you try something else and it’s also not working. The business is at a plateau, you’re tired, confused, you think you’re doing so much already and you can’t think of what else to do to move the needle.

I got really inspired when I heard the story of Morning Brew newsletter recently. It started out as a side hustle by two students, Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief, in 2015, when they created a newsletter sharing daily business news. 5 years later, they had over 2 million subscribers and sold their newsletter to Business Insider for $75 million dollars. I guess it felt so personal because I’ve also seen immense growth in my own or my clients’ businesses, mainly driven by boundless energy, enthusiasm and guerilla tactics.

Morning Brew founders Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief | NBC Photo Bank

I’ve also been through stages of stagnation, and as I have reflected on them or my clients stories, I thought that the “energy” element is such an import driver of success that is often undervalued.

Here’s what Morning Brew did to grow their list: Before each lecture at the University of Michigan where founders studied, they would go and do a 5-minute pitch to students before the class. During which, they would hand out a paper where the students could write down by hand their email to then subscribe to their email. They turned their subscribers into referrals and rewarded them for helping Morning Brew grow, gifting them anything from fun stickers to a trip to Morning Brew HQ. They partnered with hundreds of influencers and other newsletters to swap audiences. Their audience was young people interested in business news. They stood out by ditching all the boring business lingo and instead created fun content around serious topics.

The main lesson we all need to learn from the story of Morning Brew is this: if you want to achieve your goals, you need to be aggressive. Sometimes, being naive helps too. This is the attitude you want. Plateaus suck. There are obviously stages to every business, but let’s accept that sometimes a business hits a plateau just because it is limited by its perception of its own "status" and even low on energy and ideas.

In the highly competitive world we live in, growth is led by high energy, unconventional tactics and a certain level of aggressiveness.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts - remember you can always reply to me here or @notstressedceo on social media.

Actionable Tip Of The Week: Simple :) Watch this podcast between Ali Abdaal and Alex Lieberman: “Lessons From Selling Morning Brew for $75 Million at 28” (it’s a long conversation though - 1 h 40 mins!) - I am sure you will get loads of inspiration and an energy wave you can then use in your business.

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