On June 28, 2007, the official paperwork was filed with the State of Missouri and Words That Click, LLC was born.
In reflecting over the past 5 years, one factor clearly stands out as the main reason the company’s been able to survive…
Don’t worry…this post isn’t going to devolve into an Academy Awards speech to thank everyone who’s helped me along the way. But I have identified 6 broad categories of people who are largely responsible for Words That Click making it 5 years.
Each plays a unique, yet critical role in the success of any entrepreneur and their company(ies). Here they are in no particular order:
Building a network of fellow business owners who know you, like you and trust you is incredibly powerful.
When I was President of a drug testing company, I went to a lot of networking events and built up my business network. I didn’t understand how important that was until I left the drug testing company and started Words That Click.
At the very first networking event I went to after the switch, the people who knew me well were immediately introducing me to others as “the best AdWords guy in St. Louis.” While I don’t think I deserved that title, the credibility it gave me was enormous.
Just like that, overnight, I was the AdWords Expert.
This was credibility I never would have had if I didn’t get out of the office to meet, and build relationships with, fellow business owners who were genuinely interested in growing each other’s businesses.
It was by going to Yellow-Tie networking events in St. Louis that I met Matt Homann. Matt invited me to talk about AdWords at an “Un-Networking” event he hosted where I met my first client.
It was networking that directly, or indirectly, was responsible for around 75% of the new clients I got my first 2 years in business.
It was through the recommendation of Gill Wagner, founder of Yellow-Tie, master networker and all around generous soul, that I attended an Internet marketing seminar given by Bob Sommers. That seminar was significant for two reasons.
First, it changed my business model. I knew about many of the online marketing strategies Bob taught that night to a room full of people hanging on his every word. Part of it is because Bob’s a master presenter. But it was also because those people paid good money to learn about how the strategies Bob shared could help their businesses grow. They understood the power and potential of online marketing.
It was then I realized I was selling myself short by only focusing on Google AdWords and decided to expand to help business owners in other areas of their online marketing as well. That turned out to be a very good decision.
Second, I met Bob who’s since become a mentor, dear friend and partner at the Main Street Marketing Community.
The business I’ve gotten through networking is great. The relationships I’ve built through networking have been even greater.
Being an entrepreneur, especially a solopreneur, can be a lonely game. It’s tough to deal with the trials and tribulations of running a business on your own.
The best way I’ve found to combat this is by participating in Mastermind groups. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to be in groups with some truly brilliant business people. The group I’m in now is made up of guys I consider to be among the sharpest, most ethical online marketers in St. Louis.
Yes, on some level we’re competitors. But we’ve found we’re all much better off getting together once a month to swap war stories, support each other, share strategies, discuss the latest trends we’re seeing in online marketing, etc.
The support, the synergy, the brainstorming and the exchange of ideas and perspectives a good mastermind group provides is priceless.
Clearly without clients, there’s no business. While the financial benefits of having clients that pay their invoices is obvious, there’s more to it than that.
First, I’ve worked with business owners in a wide range of industries…education, manufacturing, legal, retail, alternative energy, financial planning and others.
That’s given me a behind the scenes look at how some very smart business owners in a wide range of industries operate. That’s been a great education in its own right.
Second, believe me I know it’s hard to turn over part of your business to someone else! But my clients have trusted me with part of theirs and I take that trust very seriously. Yes, it’s great getting checks, but the real satisfaction comes when we can see the marketing campaign bringing in new business.
Marketing isn’t a life or death kind of occupation like being a physician, police officer or firefighter. But it can changes people’s lives.
I’ve seen firsthand that when a business succeeds it has a ripple effect for the business owner and their spouse/children, their employees and their families, and for new hires who were suffering through unemployment or stuck at a job they hated.
Not life or death, but very fulfilling nonetheless.
This was one of the hardest steps for me to take as an entrepreneur. I knew there was no way I could continue to grow the business doing it all myself. But to let go of that control, to trust others to do work for my clients, to pay someone to do work that I could do myself, was an extremely difficult step to take.
But I took it and it’s a huge reason that the business has grown so nicely over the last few years. I’ve been very lucky to find top notch people like Theresa, John and, most recently, my sister Jessica that I can trust to do an incredible job for our clients.
My favorite part of the Internet is the concept that I call the “Virtual Mentor”.
There are some truly brilliant people out there sharing their expertise in a whole range of fields (the challenge is figuring out the truly brilliant ones from those that just talk a good game!).
And as I’ve been honing my chops in AdWords and copywriting/direct response marketing, I’ve been able to learn and be virtually mentored by some of the best. People like John Carlton, Terry Dean, Brad Geddes, Glenn Livingston and Perry Marshall.
Most of them I haven’t met in person. But through online courses, training, coaching, interactive webinars, private message boards, etc., they’ve played a huge role in my development as an online marketer.
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. Both my parents, my paternal grandfather, my maternal grandmother and others in my family have all run their own companies. Growing up in that kind of environment and listening to their stories, visiting their businesses and observing them in action is one of the best business educations I could have asked for.
The entrepreneurial route is not an easy one. And, if you’re married, you don’t go through it alone. The ups and downs, successes and failures, highs and lows don’t just have an impact on you but on your spouse as well.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a very loving, understanding, supportive wife with me through this journey.
And one that’s had a steady paycheck to boot. I only half-joke with people that if I had to give one piece of advice to someone starting a business, it’s to have a spouse with a steady paycheck that covers the mortgage. It’s a lot easier to start a company when you don’t have to worry about living on Ramen noodles and sleeping under the stars.
(Though my friend Chris, who also benefited from having a supportive wife with a steady paycheck, pointed out that it was our kids that didn’t have to worry about eating Ramen noodles and sleeping under the stars…but that wasn’t necessarily the case for the two of us!).
So a very heartfelt thank you to everyone that’s been involved in the first 5 years of Words That Click’s success…no matter what group(s) you fit into. I don’t know what the next 5 years will bring, but I know that success will largely be determined by the people I’m lucky enough to have with me along the way.