Smooth Ops: Q4 Update (We’re Hiring!)

A mix of reflections and updates a few months into building this business.

Hi, this is Josh. Welcome to the first update from Smooth Ops and Creator Services.

It’s been 50 days since we launched and time has flown by. We’ve filled our days having countless conversations with creators and operators in the industry and we’ve learned a ton. Today, we’re proud to share that we now work with four clients and are very excited to continue to scale.

Stick with us for a few thoughts about starting our business and our Q4 rocks (rock = goal). But if you’re here for the quick skim,

  1. We’re hiring an operations associate and a biz dev manager

  2. Josh and Jenny will be in LA this week if you want to hang 👋

Jenny, Kinsey, and I are first-time founders. Running a business is daunting. We’re very fortunate that we have such a solid core team (thx Ali) and already have a few awesome clients that trust us.

While this experience is certainly new for all of us, a lot feels familiar—more than I, at least, expected. We're facing problems and evaluating opportunities that don't feel too far off from what we've done before. Between the three of us, we try to be reflective, thoughtful, and communicative—acutely aware of the difficult path ahead of us. We want to make sure we're drawing on and learning from our past experiences as much as possible.

My hope is that if we remain obsessive about process, #overcommunication, and simplification that we’ll continue to succeed.

Big learnings

1. The opportunity in the creator economy is massive. The gatekeepers are gone, the creators are ready, and the operating community needs to catch up. Since launching we’ve met so many interesting people in the most wild niche areas. There’s opportunity everywhere. But we need to build an industry that is equitable, diverse, and responsible. And profitable :)

2. Things are changing fast–iOS privacy updates, viral feeds like TikTok/Shorts, production tools, etc. Every work day we’re exploring the latest and greatest so our clients can put the new tools to use. But great storytelling and clear priorities will weather any storm of changes or a tempting get-rich-quick growth hack. We have to plan well and not bite off more than we can chew, which happens. Knowing when to have a very focused meeting and when to grab a beer and shoot the shit about this wild boom period is essential.

3. The ads vs direct-revenue debate is silly. We’ve spent a ton of time in different niche media company models and have started to frame things differently. A creator-led company can be membership driven when it comes to building habits with the audience, but the largest amount of money still lies in the hands of businesses. So the better revenue streams are still partnerships-based (ads, speaking, consulting, ambassadorships, etc services). We struggle to find a truly scaled direct-revenue community that we want to emulate.

The future is a mix of all these revenue streams but unless you're in the millions of followers/monthly downloads, the businesses are going to be fueling your business. Casey Newton wrote about how Substack pitched him on converting 10% of his free audience to paid, we assume 1% for literally any product when doing napkin math. This is one of the primary reasons we are hiring a business development manager.

Here are our goals going into Q4:

  • Hire BD manager. We are believers in ad-supported media. It is neither mine, nor Jenny, nor Kinsey’s #1 skill. So we’re firing ourselves from sales and want someone better than us to come in and take over. We look forward to learning from them and setting them up to succeed.

  • Hire ops associate #2. A constant we’ve found in talking to other media operators: finding good operators is hard. The talent is scarce. We want to give young professionals with a passion for content and media the opportunity to build a wide range of skills in the creator space and build Smooth with us.

  • Create ‘process docs’ and ‘operating in the creator economy 101’ for ops associate onboarding. Process and documentation is the name of the game. If you can’t find Jenny this quarter, it better be 'cause she's deep in some Notion docs.

Obviously we do more than this, like deliver for our clients, but these are the incremental moves we absolutely need to make before the end of the year.

New team tradition: Fancy Drink Friday 🍹

This is where we take time on Fridays to sit somewhere nice with a fancy drink and catch up on the high quality content our clients and friends made over the past week. We aren’t creators ourselves but need to build the appreciation for the craft into our company’s DNA. I caught up on a few of my favorite newsletters and Kinsey’s latest about logging off. I did not have time to finish Colin and Samir’s 2. hour. interview. with MrBeast. And Quinn’s newsletter was delayed due to a submarine excursion but I caught up on that later.

One critical problem: similar names

Ali continues to call out how uncanny it is that we work with super similar names.

How can you help?

How kind of you to offer! We’re not VC-backed, but if you’re still wondering how you can help, here’s your chance:

  • Spread the word about our open jobs!

  • Send us your favorite content

  • If you know a brand that wants to spend with creators, we’d love to help connect them to the growing number of creators in our network

Josh and Jenny will be in LA this week for VidSummit! Let us know if you want to hang!

Lots to learn, lots to do. Until next time,

The Smooth Ops Team