Thoughts On Weekly Thoughts
It’s been nine years!
Every Friday, we have a team lunch where a team member does an informal presentation about an internal project. While we usually have a solid pipeline of topics, on Tuesday evening, we realized we didn’t have a topic for this week. After a quick brainstorm, we decided to pull together a presentation about the evolution and status of Weekly Thoughts.
As is often the case when something becomes part of the daily fabric of our work lives, these days, we don’t spend much time thinking about Weekly Thoughts and it was fun to pull together some historical context on our newsletter.
Back in 2014, we all had day jobs but were searching for something else, both personally and professionally. A multitude of factors allowed us to converge on the idea of a) buying small businesses at reasonable prices and b) creating a portfolio of small businesses by reinvesting the cash flows from our existing businesses into other acquisitions. At that point, it was just an idea, but we were enthusiastic to get started.
We got ourselves a corporate Gmail account and a WordPress website and started reaching out to business owners, brokers, and intermediaries. It soon became apparent that despite our fancy schools and naive enthusiasm, not many people are particularly interested in speaking with those who have no relevant operational track record, no deal experience, and no money. We needed to figure out how to make ourselves “serious”.
While our financial jobs did not cover much relevant training on small business deals and operations, we did benefit from exposure to many world-class investors. Somewhere along the way, we learned that the now (very) famous Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest hedge funds in the world with $123 billion of assets under management, started off as a consulting and research firm with an unassuming newsletter featuring commentary on the global macro economy. Titled Daily Observations, Ray Dalio (founder of Bridgewater), used his market insights as a tool to share his thinking, build relationships, and gain trust with potential clients. It seemed like a pretty good idea to us, and so, Weekly Thoughts was born (and yes, the name is a blatant variation of Daily Observations).
We published our first post in September 2014, a year before we bought our first business and when we were still W2 employees. Our idea was that if we shared our thinking with potential sellers and employees, they might be willing to overlook our lack of experience. Since then, our aim with Weekly Thoughts has always been to look outward and add value to the small business community by sharing our experiences. Our strategy has worked and we have kept at it ever since. Over the years, subscriber numbers have increased, readership engagement has grown, and we anecdotally hear that articles are often forwarded to others, which is rewarding. Sellers read the content to get comfortable with our approach, and prospective employees get insight into our culture. It’s been great.
To date, we have written almost weekly since that first post nine years ago. Every year, we take off the week of Christmas and New Years, July 4th, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. We took one week off when we had our first child (not our second though). If we’re busy, we repost an old (hopefully still relevant) article. Our parents say we should write monthly, that weekly is too much of a burden on our personal lives. And while it’s true that Weekly Thoughts is a commitment — Friday nights for the past nine years are typically Weekly Thoughts nights, not social nights — we continue to feel the effort is more than worthwhile. Plus, the not-so-dirty secret is that we enjoy putting these together.
Plus, if you write almost every week for nine years, writing becomes a lot easier. In 2014, writing Weekly Thoughts used to take hours and we’d have debates about the merits of the content. Today, we are comfortable with our brand voice and are currently writing this article while in the waiting room of a 7-year-old’s gymnastics practice. Weekly Thoughts is a testament to the power of consistent work done over long periods of time, a concept near and dear to Chenmark.
So where does that leave us? We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, and before we know it, we’ll have written weekly articles for twenty years. If our readers know somebody who should be a subscriber, please sign them up for the next nine years!
Have a great week,
Your Chenmark Team