Happy New Year Strawpeople!
Apologies for the radio silence over the past week or so; I've been trying to force myself to have a proper break from all things investing. Sometimes it can all get a bit obsessive for me, so its been good to take a deliberate step back. Creating a bit of distance has helped remind me that one of the best things about being an equity investor is that you don't have to worry about the day to day. My companies will continue to do their thing regardless of whether or not i'm thinking about them.
It's also been a good time to reflect on the bigger picture, specifically in regard to what Strawman is and where it's going. Something that has, in no small part, been prompted by the curiosity of friends and family -- How do you plan to grow subscribers and revenues? How can you better 'leverage' the membership?
As a student of business, I recognise that these are legitimate questions. But the first thing to note is that, for me, much of the "return" with Strawman is not directly financial. Yes, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed, but beyond a reasonable level of self-reliance the real value lies in things like community, idea generation and a desire to be a force for good (in what is typically a morally bankrupt industry).
That's why we've always eschewed advertising, upselling and corporate affiliations (Sharesight being the notable exception). We've never received a cent in promoting any listed company, even though there's (very) good money to be made there. The last thing ASX investors need is yet another compromised shill for stocks, products and services that are only likely to do harm.
I'm not trying to virtue signal here -- I desire material success as much as the next person. But the obvious paths one could take here are, to my mind, corrosive to longer term value. Further, it morphs the enterprise into one that is optimised for recruitment and NOT results. Sadly, it's just more profitable to churn & burn; which is why the most successful players in this space are more skilled at marketing than anything else.
The other sad truth is that I don't really have any good ideas for growth that also preserve our independence and focus on member wellbeing.
We could enter new markets, add more data/features, integrate 3rd party services (such as broking), branch into other assets classes and financial services etc etc.. But most of this is really more about ego, and would do little to improve member outcomes.
So I always end up returning to what, for desperate want of a better term, is the Strawman mission statement: To empower members to make more informed decisions and improve financial outcomes.
And this is best served NOT through fancier tools or a broader range of services, but rather by doubling down on what makes Strawman special. For me, that's the community itself. Anything that strengthens that is important. Anything that doesn't is a distraction.
From a infrastructure perspective, that's largely about providing a safe space to share and challenge ideas in a manner that is both practical and intuitive. So while we're always open to adding more tools and features, if it doesn't further this goal it's really just vanity.
From a content perspective, it's about incentivising, prioritising and rewarding high-signal material. Adding more content for the sake of it just ends up creating a lot of noise and diluting the stuff that really matters. The world is awash with data -- it's wisdom that's in short supply.
But that's only my opinion. What matters more is what you think.
With membership fees our only real source of funds, and given our apathy for marketing, member retention is paramount. And that is best served by ensuring you find genuine value in your membership.
So, if you have any thoughts or feedback -- good or bad -- please let us know. Either here in the forums, or via direct message or email if you prefer a more private conversation (email@example.com).
With your help, we're hoping to make 2024 the best year yet for our members!