My goal in writing this is to keep a public ‘Journal’ of my journey and share for anyone out there looking for help or ideas on their journey.
As the year gets closer to end, I started reflecting on the year and what’s changed in SMG Inc. Wow, so much can change in one year (if you haven’t read my post last year about getting to 6figures, you can find it HERE).
I’ll sum up what happened in sections you can skip to the one that’s most interesting to you.
And for those who care about the numbers, we 2x’d in revenue and kept really high-profit margins.
- Direction/Niche — Master of everything means you’re a master of nothing.
- Sales Channels — Go where people are buying what your selling
- Team — Smarter people = Smarter business
- Fulfillment (a why bigger than myself) — Bigger than myself
Direction and Niche
When I started SMG I had no direction, I was looking to sell anything digital to anyone who would buy. (Thankfully I always fulfilled my end of the promise and have no angry customers.)
I realized that this part is a necessary evil of entrepreneurship. There is no shortcut to ‘finding your niche’.
If there is a ‘shortcut’ be ready for all ‘get rich quick’ crowd to be down in the trenches competing with you. This dark abyss is where you find bad customers, price wars with competitors, gurus with all the answers, and cheap unfulfilling work (tough times for sure).
No amount of market research and data analysis will tell you what problems customers are having REAL-TIME. Experience does that. Experience also lets you know what you enjoy doing.
For me, it was working with the web development part of the digital world. Understanding and breaking down why things on the web are made the way they are, and how it was done from start to finish.
So I doubled down on WEB DEVELOPMENT and hired my first full-time Developer (which is a story all on its own).
I didn’t stop there! I had experience working with developers from all over the world for ad-hoc projects (read about that experience here), I doubled down on Latin America for developers.
Why? I speak Spanish fluently, culturally we relate (I’m 1st generation American), and holy shit was it fun to learn from one another!
Starting 2018 we were a Digital Marketing Agency that did everything. Starting 2019 we were a Web Development firm that provided exceptional web development to creative teams and marketers.
Finding your niche helps you laser focus on sales channels. Because we don’t have a marketing budget yet, I focused on channels that already had customers looking for what we offered.
Upwork.com — Upwork has some of the greatest freelance talents in the world. What I learned about freelancers is they don’t like to do phone/video calls; or communicate with clients. Getting on calls or recording videos using loom.com set me apart from the competition. Agencies are looking for talent when they have an overflow of work.
Clutch.co — Clutch ranks #1 in google for a lot of agency-related searches. So for every happy customer, I requested a clutch review. Maybe 1/7 people actually do a review. The results? In 2 months I started receiving inbound leads.
Linkedin Outreach — A good friend of mine Jake runs a Linkedin outreach company; https://www.leadcookie.com/. I invested in some outreach but quickly realized that I did a poor job with what I was offering. Instead of providing value first; I started to look like a spammer. In 2020 we are taking a different approach and reinvesting in this sales channel.
More then anything this was the game-changer. I know, I know everyone says this… and now I know WHY.
If you can be a genuine leader who cares about the people you work with, they will go above and beyond to propel the company forward. I care about each and every one of the guys in SMG. (P.S I don’t call anyone my ‘employee’; we’re all equal team members with different roles) .
I share my goals with every individual on the team and they share theirs with me. Using the company as a platform, together we can help each other achieve our individual goals.
With different ideas and approaches other than my own, things are more streamlined, more efficient, better quality, and over 10x better.
We started 2019 with 2 people, and some freelancers. Now we’re at 11 people. So excited for 2020.
Fulfillment (or a bigger ‘why’)
I was on a personal mission before. Gain freedom through my own business. A selfish endeavor. Adding people to the team, meeting their families, and making it about the client changed the whole business. The mission no longer was a selfish one that was meant to only serve me, but the team. This ultimately leads to much greater results for our clients who receive a product that comes from people who care about what they do.
What’s next in 2020?
Increase revenue 4x and maintain profit margins.
Build a better internal structure for new team member onboarding
We are currently holding an internal hackathon with a cash price. Software MVPs will be developed on free or downtime. Hopefully one of these MVPs can be a product we can use or sell in the future.
Thanks for reading