Hi Ian and welcome to InspiredStartups.com! We have met during my postgraduate study with Digital Marketing Institute, where you deliver social media lectures, which I found very valuable, insightful and hands-on.
But firstly, tell us a few words about yourself. Where did you begin your startup journey and what motivated you to start your own business?
"I got bored working for other companies as it wasn't challenging enough for me. So I dabbled in various different ventures. For example, at one stage i had a property company selling property internationally and then I was selling gadgets online. The challenge of entrepreneurship interested me because it's quite difficult. It requires a lot of persistence as you get plenty of knock backs along the way."
You are also known as the "Social Media Tools Guy" in the industry. What inspired you to build social media expertise from ground up; which you later shared with social media influencers, media agencies and global brands?
"We wanted to be the best in the world in one area of social media and with a strong knowledge of technology and social media this was an obvious one for us.
We researched the key influencers within the social media technology industry and found that although tools content was very popular nobody focused on it. So we built a RazorSocial.com - marketing technology blog focused on social media tools and technology. We wanted to build training around this topic and used our blog to build up our reputation and our audience."
What was was your biggest challenge after you launched RazorSocial?
"Trying to figure out the ideal revenue model. "
Would you like to share some of your entrepreneurial highs and lows during the existence of RazoSocial?
"One high was winning an award as one of the top social media blogs globally within 6 months of launching our site.
The low was not figuring out the revenue model until we were a year into our business. We felt we had achieved a lot of success in terms of recognition on a global basis but we didn't have the revenue to match this."
What does your typical day look like these days? What roles do you have in your business and how do you juggle them?
"I start the morning at 6am and blog and catch up on social media updates for a couple of hours. I then get stuck in to preparing the training material for our online training the RazorSocial Academy. At 12 am I go to the Gym until 1. After this I may do an online skype consultancy call or do a podcast interview. We'll always be working on some other promotional activity such as the launch of a webinar so I'll work on the planning of this. I may also sneak in a demo of a new tool that we're investigating. At 3.45pm I leave the office to beat the traffic. About at 8pm I got back to work for about 2 hours as this is when the US are very active."
What do you enjoy most about running your own business? And what do you enjoy least?
"I enjoy the freedom of working when I want to work. It suits me to start at 6am and finish at a reasonable time.
Although I enjoy producing content; it's never ending. The more content I produce the more traffic we get and the more revenue we generate from this so I never feel we have delivered enough!"
You are a founder of past startups that were not so successful. When looking back, what do you think went wrong? What was your learning experience from these failures?
"My main startup failures were related to being involved in business for money not passion. Of course you can be passionate about the wrong type of business also but if you are passionate about a business that has potential then it's very easy to put in long hours. The property business I was involved in was just to make money but that wasn't enough."
With the evolution of social media marketing being as rapid as it is, how do you stay ahead of the curve? Any favourite websites, blogs and other online resources you would like to share with our startup community?
"I'd recommend to subscribe to a range of blogs and used Feedly to track these blogs. Here are 3 great ones:
- Social Media Examiner
- Top Rank Blog
Your company also builds Facebook apps. Could you tell us more about this area of you business? How do these apps help other businesses?
"We don't build apps any more. There was too much competition in this space so we now focus on Razorsocial."
You also advise early stage startups on selection of social media tools. Any words of advice for startups deciding on their social media strategy? Where should they start and what criteria should their consider when choosing the right social media channel?
"Start off by working out where your customer/potential customer is hanging out online and then work out the best way to build relationships through these channels. Social media is much broader than just Twitter, Facebook, etc. Anyway you communicate with your audience online is social. To me that includes email, skype. So don't get caught up with the tools. Figure out the best way of building relationships with your audience online and that could be through a variety of means."
Ian, you are also an avid blogger. Would you agree that blogging is an important part of PR strategy for almost every entrepreneur? What in your opinion makes a good blog and what are the best ways to promote a blog to maximise readership?
"A blog is essential for driving traffic, building your authority and building trust with the your audience. The most important part to a successful blog is writing high quality content relevant to your target audience and promoting that content."
Looking at the bigger picture, how do you see social media landscape will evolve over the next couple of years? Do you think social media and the way people consume information will change overtime?
"The social media landscape will continue to evolve with platforms appearing and disappearing. But what won't change is that people will still be online communicating and you'll need to build relationships through these channels."
What are your aspiration for the future? Where do you plan on going from here? Any additions to your existing social media advisory services or fancy pursuing something completely new?
"We'll keep building RazorSocial and the online training academy but there's a big temptation to build a software product ourselves also. We have a global audience already which means we've a ready made audience if we build something that aligns to the nice we operate in."
Where can our startup community find you online?
Thanks Ian for sharing your startup story with us. We wish you the best of luck with RazorSocial.com - award winning blog focused on social media and technology. We hope to hear from you again!