I don’t have kids myself, but I’ve heard the term “terrible twos” more than enough to know that a two year old can be quite the ball of untamed fury. I’m not sure how that relates to a business, but I’d like to think that we can continue to grow in our own way without causing the laundry list of headaches that come with a typical two year old.
It’s been a great run thus far, and as we celebrate our second birthday on May 12th I just wanted to run down a list of lessons I’ve learned as a small business owner over the course of two years, and hand out some much deserved thank yous to the people who have helped us be successful thus far.
- Stick to what you know. The dollar bills have been wagged in our face more than once to go outside of the core services that we offer but we never took the bait. That wasn’t always easy when clients were few and times were lean, but we stuck to our guns and it was, and will continue to be, the right thing to do.
- Get organized! One thing we continue to work through is developing and maintaining consistent processes. This isn’t easy when your staff and client roster keep growing while the methods you employ from client to client keep changing as well. Be aware of process at all times and try to institute them at all times.
- Bend over backwards to maintain your reputation. I had an instance where a very small client came to us with a small project to help push their organic traffic over the hump. For the limited scope and size of the project, I felt we did a pretty bang up job, but it didn’t quite make the splash the client had hoped. They came back, not upset, but wondering what else they could do given their limited resources. They were good people with a good business, so I put in a few extra hours of work to show them what they should be doing to help themselves. I guess I could have blown them off, but one loud unhappy voice can be heard for miles…
- Put yourself out there! The Search Marketing Community is full of incredibly smart and talented people, but it’s good to get yourself known in whatever field you choose to follow. So do your homework and try to contribute to your industry. I don’t have a ton of time to guest blog or do white papers, but I love when I have the chance to. I even uncorked some of my old statistical skills that I hadn’t used since 1998 to baffle some people over at SEOMoz with my guest blog on term vector theory.
- Work smarter, not harder. As our capabilities grow as an organization, we’re able to do some far more interesting link building tactics. Make something cool, and the links will come (sometimes…if properly marketed!) Here’s some fun stuff we’ve worked on recently – Are you smarter than a football player? and in honor of National Boating Safety Week, a boater’s safety quiz.
- Have fun. Our office is extremely fun. People laugh and joke a lot. Surround yourself with smart, motivated and fun people and good things happen. That’s science.
- Good partners make good business. Where to start? Traction, Nicholas Creative, ICS Marketing Support Services, Visual Hero, Mighty, and a handful of wonderful contractors who we have fabulous symbiotic relationships with. The same theory applies here as does with our own staff – surrounding yourself with good partners leads to good results.
- Whoever the hell nominated us for the Greater Lansing Business Monthly Emerging Entrepreneurs Award. We honestly did not see that coming but are very grateful for the recognition.
- My parents, who I did not invite to that event because I was certain we weren’t going to win. My bad. If I get nominated for anything else in my lifetime, I’m bringing you no matter what. Also thanks for not thinking we were out of our mind starting a business in 2008 and giving up awesome jobs at another great company in Spartan Internet.
- Joe Ford. My partner in crime continues to be an excellent face to our company and the perfect compliment to my skill sets. Synergy, Joe…synergy.
- All the excellent staff and interns who have already worked for us. We do our best to make your time with Netvantage valuable, and you have been instrumental in our success thus far.
- The local media. The Great Lakes IT Report, Capital Gains, WLNS, the LSJ and of course the Greater Lansing Business Monthly have all been very helpful spreading the word when notable things happen at Netvantage (and with many of our friends and partners).
- Shaun Anderson. One of my favorite big time SEOs (I’m still a relative nobody), who in a round about way helped me name this blog. He’s located in the UK and during an email string pointed out that based on the hours of my communications, I must not sleep. I like the title, so thanks for the help!
- Last but not least – our clients, past and present. It took some guts for clients to sign with us as we started with none. For every company that rolled the dice by working with the new guys, I can never thank you enough. We will continue to do our best to provide value to you.
I can’t wait to write another one of these next year, hopefully chock full of more learning experiences and new people to thank.