Inbound Marketing Blog | Inbound

Why We're Turning Our Small Business Back Into a Startup

Written by Steven Male | Aug 18, 2015 12:28:34 AM

After a year and a half of being a small business owner, I hit rock bottom. The journey I spent my life preparing for took a turn for the worst and left me desperately scrambling to keep the business, and myself, from going under.

It all started when I decided to scale rapidly with an unclear business model. It was like opening the sails of a dilapidated ship without fixing either the holes in the boat or the rips in the sails. Without going into the gory details, this left me heavily in debt and having my first panic attack that left me devastated and demotivated to get out of bed for a week.

Why? Because I was sick and tired of being a small business owner. Well, that's what I thought at least. In reality I wanted a change; I wanted to do something new. I was sick and tired of doing this same thing day in and day out.

 My first interview, look at that professional quality photo ;)


So what was the problem? 

It didn't strike me like it does in the movies. It wasn't a beautiful epiphany where looking at a butterfly emerging out of a chrysalis connected the dots. It wasn't even a Titanic moment where I was standing at the bow of the ship, with the feeling like I'm flying, "hold me, Jack!". 

It was simply an 'Oh, that's right...', like remembering where you left the keys. 

The problem? I had forgotten why I started my business in the first place. I can't fathom how many people there are who have forgotten this. I was sucked into the daily routine of maintaining. Eww

The thought came into my head during my after work run under my coaches advice that I need to improve my cardio and get back sustainable bed time (apparently 3 - 5 am doesn't lead to a long life span). Halfway through the run, the answer came to me as I reflected on why I started BigBangly in the first place. 

 Back when BigBangly used to be called Spork.

The first reason is obvious, especially to my clients. To help small businesses double their revenue in one year. I liked that. Hell, I love that! That gets me all excited and juiced up. It was a challenge and one I knew I could help them achieve. Best part? It would reignite the spark back into their business and massively improve what they feel they're capable of.

The second reason, the main reason, was what motivated me to work mindless hours in the first place. I wanted to grow. I wanted to show the world what I was capable of. I've had plenty of doubt from strangers, friends and family alike who said I couldn't achieve my audacious goals and sadly that lead to personal doubt. From the age of 15 I had been addicted to the Japanese term 'Kaizen', which is the practice of continuous improvement. 

Note this is different to what most people attempt to achieve:

Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and heavily underestimate what they can achieve in a decade. They consistently strive for massive bouts of progress which leads to overwhelm and ultimately a lack of movement.

Kaizen is about focusing on consistent improvements on a daily basis and more importantly, a slow and sustainable process to progress that leads to massive achievement time and time again. 

When I started BigBangly, I wanted to apply the Kaizen practice to business but very quickly I was lost in the daily toils of running a small business. Now, this brings up a massive point, and it's the difference between small businesses and startups.

The difference is the focus on growth. As Paul Graham states, "a startup is designed to grow fast.", a small business like a hairdresser naturally stops growing when they've dominated their local area. They lack the scale that startups typically build themselves around.

First attempt at a logo.

When I started BigBangly, I stove for massive growth on a weekly basis. This quickly petered out when I landed my first client and had to balance both growing the company and delivering stellar results. I have to admit, I handled this balance horribly and spent 9/10ths of my time on growth and only 1/10 on the client (SORRY!). The first of many learning experiences!

And that's what the title of this post is all about. Growth. It's about turning my small business back into the startup I wanted to build in the beginning. It's about focusing on delivering an incredible service AND ensuring growth on a consistent basis.

Best part? I'm sharing the journey with you, my readers. You're a mixture of current clients, past clients, future clients and just people curious about the real insides of a business, and I'm going to share it all. From the amazing to the horrible, this is a learning experience. This is me striving to become the best in my industry and helping my clients experience out of this world results.


The Updates

I'll be sharing the journey in the form of weekly updates. After reading If You Haven't Thought About Agile For Hardware Development, You Probably Should, I realized that structure was the first step to growth. I quickly devoured the book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time in a few days, and it's going to be the cornerstone of how I approach Kaizen through business. 

By the way - what a great book title! The art of getting twice the work in half the time, now who isn't going to want to read that?!


Armed with a pile of Post-it Notes and a pen, I quickly got to work.


First Week of Progress

I implemented SCRUM into the business a week ago so I could get started estimating progress and getting clear on what I wanted to achieve. It turned out that I wanted to get the website updated to reflect the new startup mindset and results driven approach. This led to a redevelopment of the site and getting clear on the website what we offer and what results we deliver.


Although we are a full-service inbound marketing company, offering everything from website development to conversion optimisation, I wanted to initially focus on small businesses looking for SEO work.

The local SEO package we offer is a one off cost of $500 which is a great starting point for showing prospects the level of work we offer and from this we aim to deliver a $5,000 improvement to their revenue in the first year alone.

Yeap. That's right. You might have read that the focus is on growth and delivering results, so our benchmark for a happy client is providing a 10x return on their investment.

After we complete the local SEO work, we move up to organic search engine optimisation. Then we move onto content marketing and advertising through social media (Facebook, Linkedin, Reddit, etc.) and search engines (like Google Adwords). At each step of the process, we're improving their return more and more and ultimately aim to double their revenue in one year.



What's The Goal?

Our goal is pretty kick-ass if we do say so ourselves.

We want to achieve 10% growth week on week (yeah, that's on par with the world's most successful startups) and ultimately add $10,000,000 in value to our clients by the first of August 2016.

Last year we managed to add $1,000,000 in value to our customers, and a 10x growth rate feels like a worthy challenge!

So that's it, we've laid it all on the table and we're excited about sharing our journey with you. If you are sick and tired of the 'average' and want to achieve more than you thought possible, sign up below and we'll email what we learn on our journey right to your door (or your email...).