September 14, 2022

Sabir x Stu Heinecke

The Weed Business Growth Strategy with Stu Heinecke – Bestselling Author


When you think of the “weed mindset,” you probably picture a stoner cradling a bong and listening to Pink Floyd. But what if I told you that this mindset could help your business to grow and prosper? What if it was the one thing that your marketing strategy was crying out for?

That’s the idea behind the Weed Strategy™, a concept created by a marketer, author, and cartoonist Stu Heinecke. It’s a concept that he discussed at length during the latest episode of This Week With Sabir, covering the four elements, eight steps, and other critical facets of this strategy:

  • What is the Weed Strategy™? It’s a multi-faceted business growth strategy based on weeds. These plants are resilient, strong, and fast-growing. They take space and nutrients from crops, create an unfair advantage, and use it to dominate. Business owners can learn a lot from them.
  • Who Can Benefit from the Weed Strategy™? It can be used by brands of all sizes and helps whether you’re scaling a business or taking your first steps as a business owner.
  • What Does the Weed Strategy™ Entail? This strategy has four key elements: Weed Mindset, Unfair Advantages, Collective Scale, and Fierce Process. It’s about thinking right, proliferating, collaborating as needed, and innovating continuously, but there’s much more to it.
  • Can I Use the Weed Strategy™? If you’re growing a business, yes, you can! Check out the video or accompanying guide to learn more about Weed Strategy™. You can also purchase Stu’s book, where he delves deep into this strategy, its elements, and its reasoning.

As always, make sure you read the following guide to the end. I asked Stu Heinecke for his $100,000 advice, and he was more than happy to give it to me.

Scaling A Business With The Weed Strategy™

Stu Heinecke last appeared on This Week With Sabir in September 2021. The cartoonist, author, and marketer spoke at length about his innovative outreach approach, which means he can get a meeting with anyone.

During that episode, Heinecke briefly touched upon another marketing strategy he has dubbed the Weed Strategy™. Keen to learn more, I invited him back for another discussion, making him the first returning guest in TWWS history.

We spoke about how the right mindset and approach can help your business to grow like a weed.

You can watch my full interview with Stu Heinecke on YouTube. Alternatively, check out the guide below, where I expand on many discussed topics.

What Is The Weed Business Growth Strategy?

The Weed Strategy™ is a business and revenue growth strategy first introduced in Heinecke’s book, How to Grow Your Business Like a Weed. It can be utilized to grow a business of any size and features many simple, easy-to-follow concepts.

Large-scale businesses have already employed these concepts, forming the foundation of many franchise models and those used by mega brands like Apple, Amazon, and Google.

But you don’t need to generate billions of dollars in revenue to benefit from these ideas. They can be just as useful for small business owners, and that’s true whether you’re just starting and preparing to take the first few steps or planning new marketing strategies.

There are four critical elements to the Weed Strategy™:

Weed Mindset

Weeds don’t have brains, so you can’t really “think like a weed.” But you can act like one.

Weeds are strong, resilient, and aggressive. They are focused on one goal—to grow. If they are cut short, they adapt and continue to grow. They can thrive in searing sunshine and cold.

The weed mindset, therefore, is one of strength, willingness, and determination.

Often, the thing that separates new business owners from wannabee entrepreneurs is that the latter only “plan” to do something, while the former do it. What separates failed entrepreneurs from successful ones is that they maintain that drive in the face of adversity.

It’s all about your mindset.

Be more weed!

Unfair Advantages

The idea of unfair advantage is that you create the conditions that allow you to thrive.

Take Amazon or Google, for example. We often see them as having an unfair advantage. These companies have the money and means to take on any industry and succeed.

Just ask the countless independent bookstores forced to close or the many search engines that are a thing of the past.

But this advantage was earned, not given. Bezos didn’t wake up one day with the power to take on the world of literature, music, and e-commerce. He created that unfair advantage for himself, which you must consider when scaling a business.

What strategies can you use to give yourself an advantage over your competitors? What tools and attributes will help you to reach those goals?

A weed has an equally unfair advantage in the field. It can grow faster, stronger, and bigger than its competing crops. But it got there through millennia of evolution, and if you want to compete as a business, you must also evolve an advantage.  

Collective Scale

Collaboration is a vital part of the Weed Strategy™ and something that I spoke about extensively with Stu.

Whether you’re seeking small business funding, growing a digital agency, or starting your brand, collaboration lets you benefit from the reach, reputation, and experience of others.

Warren Buffett famously said, “What you find is there’s never just one cockroach in the kitchen when you start looking around.” In this context, however, it’s better to use the analogy of dandelions.

Cockroaches are out for themselves; dandelions rarely grow independently.

We often think of collaboration in a social media context. If a rising YouTuber wants some more exposure, they may collab with another creator. Their efforts give them a new video and allow them to target a new audience. Collaboration is critical and widespread in the influencer space.

But it goes much further than that.

Apple relies on collaboration through its App Store. It incentivizes developers to create apps for Apple devices. Apple makes the platform and hosts the apps, and in exchange, it gets a commission and gives its customers more reasons to buy.

Collaboration is also key to the Amazon platform.

Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Publishing are vast parts of the Amazon puzzle, and both exist thanks to collaboration.

When scaling a business, don’t just focus on yourself. Start thinking about how others can help you.

Can you benefit from any existing infrastructure to help with logistics? Can you utilize someone else’s skills or reputation for growing your brand?

The notion of the entrepreneur who builds a career using nothing but determination and hard work is a fallacy. Often, entrepreneurs exceed because they hire the right people, work with the right companies, and know how to utilize the skillsets of others.

Fierce Process

The fierce process stage concerns the development and use of information and expertise. It’s how you implement your strategies and growth once you have your unfair advantage.

Let’s look at two companies as an example: Apple and Blockbuster.

Blockbuster had a very unfair advantage in the world of video rental. It was the dominant force. There were still independent video rental shops, but Blockbuster was bigger and better known. It had the marketing power to bully its way to the top and the resources to undercut its competitors.

But then it stagnated. In 2000, Blockbuster was given a chance to buy Netflix, a brand worth considerably more than Blockbuster ever was. It refused.

In later years, it watched as streaming took its baby steps, only to ignore it.

It didn’t innovate. It failed to see the potential in alternative markets, and so it crashed and burned.

Amazon, on the other hand, has never rested on its laurels.

After succeeding with books and music, it moved into other areas. It launched the Amazon Marketplace, created its self-publishing platform, and then branched into web services and numerous other areas.

Amazon Prime, Kindle, 1-click orders, same-day delivery—all of these innovations and more have allowed Amazon to continue its phenomenal growth.

Rather than rejecting new industries, ignoring competitors, and pretending that the world won’t change, it researches, prepares, invests, and innovates.

Growing Your Business Using The Disruptive Nature Of Weeds

Waterhemp is a weed that’s native to Iowa and the western Cornbelt. It wasn’t considered a problematic weed until around 40 years ago, but it has become a massive problem.

About 100 years ago, it only grew along water courses, and it was “no longer present in well-cultivated fields.” But then everything changed.

Waterhemp grew. It thrived. It’s a resilient plant, but it also produces over 250,000 seeds per plant on average, with some producing more than 1 million.

The rapid lifecycle and sheer quantity of seeds lead to a lot of mutations, and this is why it has been able to spread so quickly. Waterhemp is often resistant to common herbicides, which means it’s hard to kill.

It continues to grow and prosper while other weeds die.

This is essentially how big businesses work. They find ways to sow as many seeds as possible and resist whatever obstacles and adversities they encounter.

Like water hemp, a good business begins with something unique. Initially, it stands out without really disrupting the marketplace. But then it starts to grow, takes root, and the disruption occurs.

The idea of “disruption” may seem a little far-fetched if you’re a new business owner. After all, if Amazon, Google, Apple, Walmart, and other big brands have all the power, if they have already sowed their seeds and cluttered the fields, how can you possibly find space?

But it’s important to remember that the most significant disruptions don’t come from the market leaders.

Google, the most significant technology company on the planet, didn’t give us breakthrough innovations in the blockchain. Bitcoin and Ethereum did. Streaming innovations came from Netflix, not Blockbuster, Disney, or other media conglomerates. Many of the biggest blogs and news sites in the history of the internet were founded by writers in their bedrooms and not by newspapers.

They’re not the weeds. You are. Start seeing them as the established crops being grown, harvested, and reseeded every year and yourself as the weeds disrupting their cycle.

Who Is The Weed Strategy™ For?

I asked Stu for the best and worst examples of the Weed Strategy™ in use.

He told me that franchises are by far the best example.

Franchises work as a team. They start with a well-defined process that all others must follow. They also have the unfair advantage of market dominance and brand recognition.

You might struggle if you were to open a donut shop as a new business owner. You’d need to get to grips with the operational and logistics side of things, deal with the marketing, and then find time for the recipes, cooking, and all the equipment and training that goes with it.

If you franchise a Dunkin Donuts, however, most of that work will be done for you. You’ll need to pay for the pleasure, but it’s usually worth it.

On the other side of the coin, you have solopreneurs.

Solopreneurs often try to do everything on their own. They are the orchestrators of their fate and want everything to be firmly within their control. That’s the way they began their journey, and it’s how they want it to continue.

It’s hard to convince a solopreneur that they should be relying on others or working with others, yet that’s what they need to do.

They can do everything themselves, and some succeed, but they don’t need to.

It’s like traveling from New York to Los Angeles. You could walk, and you’ll eventually get there if you do. But why walk when you can take a train or a plane? Why does it the hard way when it’s not necessary?

It’ll cost more, and you’ll be relying on others, but the process is much easier, and the results are guaranteed.

8 Levels Of Strategy For Developing Unfair Advantages

Stu briefly mentioned the eight levels to developing an unfair advantage. You can read more about it in his book and something I just don’t have time to cover here. However, a quick summary gives you an idea of these levels and how they work.

  • Step One – Seed Strategy: Sow many seeds to create an unfair advantage in the field.
  • Step Two –  Seed Pod Strategy: Utilize the reach and reputation of others to maximize the spread and growth of your own business.
  • Step Three –  Thorn Strategy: Protect your brand and IP and negotiate like a weed.
  • Step Four –  Segmentation Strategy: Ready yourself for disruptions and be prepared for anything. As we’ve seen in the last couple of years, growing a business successfully is as much about consolidation and safety nets as it is about innovation and innovative growth strategies.
  • Step Five –  Rosette Strategy: Create and use unfair advantages in everything you do to increase your spread.
  • Step Six –  Vine Strategy: Stand taller and soak up more sunshine by borrowing existing infrastructure from others.
  • Step Seven – Root Strategy: Optimize all the stores of value in your business and harvest the highest worth.
  • Step Eight –  Soil Strategy: Create and maintain the best conditions for your business to grow.

The $100.000 Question

As always, I finished my discussion with Stu Heinecke by asking him the $100,000 question: If you could give our listeners one piece of advice that could generate at least 6-figures in revenue, what would it be?

Heinecke referenced the “unfair advantage” idea in his answer. He also said you should buy his book, which I completely agree with.

The Weed Strategy™ really can make a huge difference when growing or scaling a business, and this guide—and the accompanying video—only covers a fraction of it. Check out How to Grow Your Business Like a Weed on Amazon to learn more. It’s also available from other bookstores.

More Information

Collaborating is a vital piece of this puzzle and one that I spoke about at length with Stu. It’s something that can help you in all industries and at all levels.

I linked a few guides to collaboration above. Still, if you are interested in this, I recommend checking out the TWWS episode with Kevin Thompson, an expert in building strategic partnerships.

If you want to see how partnerships and collaborations could help you as an executive, along with some other insights into building an executive brand, read this guide with John Mediana.

About Stu Heinecke

Stu Heinecke is a bestselling business author, marketer, and *WSJ* cartoonist. His first book, *How to Get a Meeting with Anyone,* was named one of all-time’s top 64 sales books. His latest, *How to Grow Your Business Like a Weed*, lays out a complete model for explosive business growth based on the strategies, attributes, and tools weeds use to grow, expand, dominate and defend their turf. A twice-nominated hall of fame marketer and Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center author-in-residence, he was named the “Father of Contact Marketing” by the AMA. He lives on a beautiful island in Washington State. Visit him on the Web at https://stuheinecke.com.

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