If you caught it a couple of weeks ago, my latest Real Life Girl Boss interview featured a woman who works as a Productivity Strategist for Creative Entrepreneurs. I found her approach to the work fascinating, as I’m sure you did too. But now you might be thinking, “What if I’m not an entrepreneur?” or even “How do I become one?” Well, my friends, if you’ve ever had dreams of owning your own business – on staking claim on your ideas and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THEM, you’re in luck. Because today, Alex Golick, entrepreneur and founder of Intensify, an LA marketing agency, is here to give you the 411 on making your dreams happen. He may not be a “girl boss”, but Alex knows his stuff, so I think I’ll let him stick around. 😉
WHO ALEX AND INTENSIFY ARE:
I received my BA from Wesleyan University in Psychology, and I have a background in big data analysis; this helps me take a much more analytical, results-oriented approach to marketing. [My company’s] goal is to help grow businesses and to have happy, loyal clients. We go the extra mile helping businesses with lead management, choosing software, and improving user experience. We’ve had fantastic results helping businesses achieve tangible growth and great ROIs [the amount of return on an investment relative to the investment’s cost]. Our goal is to help – most agencies provide less transparency. We also have creative talent and a great eye for social media, web design, and copywriting. All of these things set our boutique Los Angeles advertising agency apart.
DECIDING TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR:
I’ve always loved coming up with creative ideas and solutions – I find the challenge of creating something to be very exciting and rewarding. I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur for a long time, so my strategy was to work for other people until I’d developed enough expertise in something to go off on my own.
I turned to my family and friends and still constantly bounce ideas off of them. A big mistake many people make is that they don’t tell anyone their business ideas because they are paranoid someone is going to steal them. This is so incredibly unlikely. It’s more likely that other people will help you recognize bad ideas to let go of and provide solutions to problems you face. People who keep their ideas a secret usually don’t end up executing them.
The first step to starting a business is coming up with a business plan, but the real first step is DOING. You can speak about and plan a business forever, but what really gets it going is taking action.
In terms of legalities, if you want to use a name for the business other than your own, you at least need to get a DBA (Doing Business As), which is very cheap. If you’re worried about liability, you’re going to want to get an LLC or S Corp. If you do not have a business background, try to network with people who you think could help you, and ask for advice. Also, find a great accountant.
SPENDING AND MAKING MONEY:
I was making a profit in month one because I started a service-based business with very little overhead. Low overhead is one of the major benefits of starting a service instead of product-based business; you can make money immediately and don’t have to deal with the cash flow issues you face when producing inventory ahead of selling it. Service-based businesses are also better for quickly achieving location independence if you want to travel while working.
However, I do believe that if you spend money intelligently you can leverage your growth and grow much faster than if you pinch-pennies from the onset. Some examples of intelligent spending are marketing, outsourcing weaknesses, and hiring great people.
HAVING AN OFFICE AND HIRING EMPLOYEES:
I traveled a lot when I first started, so it didn’t make sense for me to rent a space. I also had just left an office environment and was not keen to recreate it. I have found that I much prefer working from places other than home and try to get out of my house first thing in the morning; I really enjoy working from coffee shops to this day.
Someone should hire employees when they…
- Can afford to.
- Have mapped out the exact tasks they want to transfer to them and have a job description/understanding of the skills they are looking for.
- Think that hiring the employee will help them to make more money in the long term.
There are many alternatives in this day and age to hiring full-time employees that business owners should consider. You can hire remote or local, outsource work to another company, or hire part-time employees or independent contractors. I began by offering small projects on a contract basis to several different people and then continued to work with the best people. Currently, everyone working for me is an independent contractor. They share in revenue of the projects that they work on.
GROWING A CLIENT BASE:
For most people, their first client is someone they know, or someone referred to them by someone they know. It’s really important to self-promote and let everyone around you know what you are doing and the type of client you are interested in. This helps you stay at the top of their mind when they speak to someone who could use your services.
My advice to anyone looking to grow their business is to give their elevator speech to everyone they meet. It shouldn’t be salesy – just let people know what you are doing and that you’re excited about it. Then take on every client you can get, no matter how small. Referrals will eventually be the lifeblood of your business. Think of taking on a small client as making an investment in the business; it’s just investing time instead of money.
I have found more success gaining clients through meeting people organically than at networking events. I would suggest going to events and parties that are not designated specifically for networking.
As an advertising agency owner, I keep up to date on marking industry, strategy, and platform changes by regularly consuming news, articles, and videos. Some good resources include Moz for SEO [search engine optimization), Jon Loomer for Facebook advertising, and Google AdWords for AdWords news.
TRAVELING AS A BUSINESS OWNER:
Traveling while working is extremely difficult because you have to deal with a large amount of logistics in two different realms. There are a lot of decisions to make, so it’s important to limit the amount of time you take making the choices. I recently wrote an article about this called How to Quit Your Job & Travel the World.
JUST DO IT ALREADY!
The vast majority of people are not doers. They have ideas, but they don’t execute them. Being a doer is so much more fun! The major takeaway I would want aspiring entrepreneurs to have is to move past the thinking stage and take the first action step. Buy a domain name, set up a meeting, hire a logo designer, pitch a potential client your services. Start TODAY.
Have any questions for Alex? Share them below!
Happy birthday, Alex! I can’t wait to see what kind of new businesses you’ve inspired today. 🙂