Recently, someone referred to me a serial entrepreneur. I had to stop and take notice of that comment. Yes, I was CEO of a moderately successful digital advertising agency. Yes, there have been many challenges over the last couple years. Yes, this was not my first rodeo. I have started a couple of different business ventures and yes, some successful and some not. I guess I am a serial entrepreneur.
I do need to tell you that everything I learned, I learned from the school of hard knocks. I was one of those people that grew up thinking that I would get a job after high school, become successful and never look back. While that's exactly what I did, I will tell you that when I do look back I wish that I would have received a College degree and maybe, just maybe success would have come sooner than later, but that's another story in itself.
The Secret to Being a Damn Good Internet Marketer
Before I share with you what I learned along the way to success (and sometimes failure), I want to ask you to think carefully for a few seconds. If you were to write down one word that encapsulates the thing you need most to be a damn good entrepreneur in the search and social world, what would it be?
Let me give you a hint, it's not capturing leads. It's certainly not charisma. And no, it's not determination or perseverance either though all of these are great qualities to have. Give up? It's called metamorphosis. Or evolution, whatever. The point is, to be a damn good entrepreneur in our business, you need to have vision, and you have to be able to evolve and change on a dime. You need to see the future and give people what they want or need.
Yes, some people may argue that it's not good for branding, you could confuse some people by shifting what you do in your business. But let me counter with this argument: Would McDonald's be here today if it weren't for the adaptation of the assembly line at their restaurant decades ago? Would Amazon be as huge as they are if they didn't use Kindle to lead an e-book revolution? Didn't think so. And let's not forget how Steve Job's vision of a computer for everyone sparked the PC revolution...
So what did I learn that you will not be taught in school? Have Vision, act on it and learn from your mistakes.
Learning is Earning. Nuf said...
The ability to analyze information and the ability to adapt to change is the key. It doesn't mean you constantly change your tactics or business plan. Rather, you need to be strategic about them. I know I've gone through quite a few changes myself, and I'm still here. But just as important as your vision is the ability to learn from the changes, successes and failures. I took notice every time there was a shift in my journey and became committed to learning as much as I could about what caused the changes. I am talking about changes in about sales, marketing, operations and most importantly, my market. This is important if you want to have a truly success business.
My Journey As an Entrepreneur
It wouldn't be fair to you to give you these tips without some back up data. As you follow my journey, you will see how my world and my journey has shifted based on trends. As I went down this road to become an entrepreneur I studied, learned and saw my future success. You can to.
- I started as a stock broker in the early 80's and with the computer age upon us it wasn't long before retail brokers were obsolete. Especially after the emergence of companies like Ameritrade - Time for a change!
- My next venture was as an owner of an investment banking services firm. We raised money for internet startups and did very well for a number of years but then again the .com bubble burst in early 2000's and when the World Trade Center went down in 2001 with the underwriters we worked with on the 26th floor, well - Time for a change.
- When the privacy laws changed I saw an opportunity and started a Company called HIPAA General. Shortly we were consulting with thousands of Dr.'s on how to comply with the privacy laws. Again, it wasn't long before new technology and online tools became mainstream to help businesses meet the privacy standards and it was time for a change again.
- This brings me to 2006 and my interest in SEO. Like many others before me and after me, I became an SEO consultant. I used the knowledge I had learned as an investment advisor for internet startups and self-taught myself SEO, threw caution to the wind and went into business again.
- By 2010 I realized this was where I wanted to be and Advice Interactive was born.
- In 2011 we saw that local search was the future and acquired a small technology company with the same vision that put us at the forefront of that trend.
- With 2 Inc500 wins and revenues that may lead to a third, we still have the same look forward attitude that has taken us this far...
Evolve, Like Right Now
So why do I tell you all of this? To try and explain how important it is that you stay forward thinking at all times. If you have the vision, and the knowledge you just need to get your mindset ready to get out there and rock it as an entrepreneur. You don't need super skills. You need to visualize your future and how you want your future to unfold. You need to have a clear picture of what direction you want your company to take and possess a plan to guide it from conception to realization. An important and vital step in determining whether you are an entrepreneur is your ability to clearly communicate your vision and aspirations that you have for your company.
In This Industry There are Changes Everyday
In our industry we are always in a state of flux. It is especially important to be able to roll with the changes. Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500-600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a "major" algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways. That's not the only thing we need to be on top of so every day we need to be prepared for change.
So What is My Advice?
Believe in Your Vision, Learn from your Mistakes - Everyday people fail to live the life they have always wanted to live. They fail to realize their ambitions and many will give up on their big dreams as soon as things get a little tough or overwhelming. Why? Because they do not believe in themselves or believe in what they can accomplish. When under pressure some people start to doubt their own abilities and eventually give up. But those few people who manage to believe in themselves and their vision will continue moving along the path to success. Trust me...I know.
Mark Cuban says it best when asked what's the key to being successful as an entrepreneur? He says, "Busting your ass. It's not about money or connections -- it's the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your business. And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time.
On those words of wisdom, I will shut up...