Tell us about yourself?
I’m a 20-year veteran CEO of the software training industry, now starting a new enterprise: a digital marketing agency catering to the thousands of training companies and vocational schools in the US.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Probably the biggest misconception is that all startups must have investors to grow. While there is definitely a path involving rounds of funding, a lot of under-the-radar startups are “bootstrapped” – self-funded by the entrepreneur. In fact, it’s more the norm than the exception.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Double-down when you have an opportunity to scale. I saw one opportunity during the growth of my previous company but didn’t jump on it. So sad! I’m not quite sure why I didn’t go for it – maybe risk aversion.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Tenacity. I hate to quit on something, to a pathological degree. I guess it’s possible this is a character flaw, too. Time will tell!
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I find that having multiple screens makes a huge difference in my productivity: email on one side, web browser on another, Slack, or something else on the third. I’ve also come to see the wisdom of having a timeboxed weekly schedule dictating what I focus on at any moment in the day, although I haven’t quite followed it as much as I’d like.
When I really don’t feel like doing a particular task, I use an online accountability buddy service to pair up with someone with a similar problem.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
I wanted to get into the digital marketing space after seeing some of the interesting characters that inhabited that industry. I had known several digital marketers and always envied their jobs.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Within 5 years I’m hoping that my company will have an established roster of 20-30 clients on retainer — and I’ll have figured out how to turn some aspect of the business into a software as a service (SaaS) subscription formula, where most of the future growth will come from.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
The biggest challenge will be to work individually with clients while carving out time to work on the long-term SaaS vision. To help with that, I’m trying to find parts of the service that can be effectively delegated without losing any of the results or workmanship.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
My biggest success in this new venture is to have survived my first year: having gotten 6 clients, 3 of whom are now repeat business. It’s not a lot, but you’ve got to start somewhere!
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Right now clients find me exclusively through word-of-mouth. In the future, the two marketing channels I expect to bear fruit are: LinkedIn Groups and SEO, to drive traffic to the website at https://www.shouthaus.com.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Take some online courses on how to be a good manager. I wasn’t very good at it, but I’d like to think I could have done considerably better if I had invested some time in learning about it early on. A secondary tip would be to learn about accounting.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I hope the future brings just a few bits of good luck to apply to both my business and me.