Hi Joanne and welcome to InspiredStartups.com! I am glad to have you on board. But firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself.
"Just over a year ago I set up a dedicated web analytics company called dedicated web analytics company called GlowMetrics. Before that I had worked for a number of media agencies since 2005 across the UK and Ireland, specialising in the areas of search and analytics."
Now, tell us a bit about your startup. How exactly does GlowMetrics help other businesses? How does it differentiate from its competitors?
"We aim to help businesses make better sense of their digital data, so that they can use it to make better business decisions. For many businesses, their investment in digital activity- whether it be to drive customers to a website, social media property or in store- is a key part to their overall growth strategy, yet they feel overwhelmed when they look at the sheer amount of data produced from their digital channels and campaigns. They struggle to get any real meaning to what their customer wants, expects and needs. We break down the data, and produce actionable insights that a business can use to better power their digital properties, producing more effective and trackable marketing campaigns. We make tracking and measurement paramount to everything that we do."
At what stage did you think it was the right time to start your your own business? What did you have to consider prior to taking a deep dive?
"I knew it was right when I went to Mexico and decided to do a skydive. On the way up the instructor was telling me that there was a possibility that we might go up to heaven instead of landing on the ground. Although he was clearly joking he proceeded to ask me if I would have any regrets if we didn’t make it and the one that sprung to mind was the regret of not starting up my own business. So I came back from holidays with the intention of handing in my notice and going out on my own.
Before taking the plunge I obviously had to consider that I needed to hand my notice in and that meant stepping away from the security of getting a regular salary paid by someone else. Aside from that, there was actually very little else I had to consider before setting-up."
How difficult was it for GlowMetrics to get the first clients? Any tips you would like to share?
"By the time I left to set up GlowMetrics I already had a few small clients on board - some work that I had been doing in my spare time and some for free. This left me in a strong position to get some good testimonials together and do some market research at the same time, to find out what exactly customers wanted so I could build a good offering. Some tips that I would give to someone starting off are to snap up as many opportunities that come your way before going out on your own, offer services for free to get more experience and try to go to as many industry events as possible to build up your contact and client list."
What does your typical day with GlowMetrics look like and how does it differ from you past roles with digital agencies? What roles do you have in your own business and how do you juggle them?
"No day is ever the same! A typical day could be anything from delivering a full day’s workshop with a client, to meeting new clients to discuss their requirements, and meeting with other companies to see if there are any mutual benefits of working together. I’m travelling a lot more, meeting more people and without a doubt I learn something new every day now. I have the role of admin, finance, HR, marketing, operations and IT on a daily basis with help from a number of support consultancies. Invest NI and a management consultancy called Full Circle were, and still are both instrumental in guiding me in the right direction."
What do you enjoy most about running your own business? And what do you enjoy least?
"What I enjoy most about running GlowMetrics.com is the vast amount of new experiences and depth of learning that goes with it. What I enjoy is being challenged on a daily basis, meeting new people and hitting ‘send’ on an invoice knowing a good job has been done. What I enjoy least is probably the long hours and the extent to which running your own business takes over your life! A lot of the time it doesn’t bother me because I genuinely love what I do but it’s definitely one of the sacrifices you have to make."
Any important mistakes you made that you would like to avoid if you could travel back in time?
"If I were doing it again I’d probably take more time at the start to build a business plan and strategy - I just went straight into delivering client work from the very beginning and then tried to do bits and pieces of the business operations side as I went along."
How big is your team now and what is important when hiring new employees?
"We are now at 4- so one intern who helps out from time-to-time, a digital marketing executive, a data analyst and myself. I think the most important thing when hiring new employees is to always get a second opinion and employ people that have as much drive and ambition as you do."
Any plans to expand further or maybe start a new business?
"There will always be an objective there to grow further, and yes, I think you catch a bug when you start your own business, to work on other start-up ideas- I’m working with a few people at the minute to build on some new ideas."
Any favourite website on SEO, PPC and Analytics you would like to share with our startup community?
"I always follow Avinash Kaushik and Matt Cuts. Outside that SearchEngineLand, ROIRevolution, and Lunametrics are all great places to find insightful articles."
Would you like to share your best advices on SEO and PPC with other startup founders looking to enhance their visibility on search engines?
"For SEO, create great unique content that people will want to read and share socially, and make sure that the search engine spiders can find your website (use Webmater Tools
Thanks Joanne for sharing your startup story with us. We wish you the best of luck with your startup journey! :-)
"For PPC, take advantage of ad extensions available, drive people to user-friendly landing pages and always ensure you are tracking performance in a web analytics package so you can make more informed decisions when optimising the account."
What are your 3 best advices to other startups just starting out?
- "Seek out all the great initiatives that have been set up across the country to provide support to new business startups."
- "Don’t be afraid to ask people who have started their own business for advice before you take the plunge. This is where I got some of my most valuable advice."
- "Do as much as you can in your spare time before you start, or hand in your notice in your current job so you can hit the ground running."
On a personal note, I am also aware you have travelled abroad to pursue your passion for charity work. Could you tell us more about this experience?
"I have been fortunate to be able to go on two habitat for humanity trips to build houses in projects based in both India and Africa. Each trip brought with it different experiences but the overarching feeling of love, happiness and positive spirit of the communities we worked in, even though they had very little, was humbling and inspiring."
Three words to describe yourself?
You. Decide. Rado.
Ok, so it's my call then! :-) Since I know you I would describe you as Genuine, Helpful and Intelligent!
Finally, where can our startup community find you online?