If You HAD to Start Over - What would you do Differently???

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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13,308
This powerful question is for you. Yes, <strong>YOU</strong>!

Knowing everything you know today,
if you had to start over in this business,
what would you do differently???​
Whether you are an old pro or just getting started, we've love to hear your answer to this question. Mistakes can be our biggest catalyst for success and learning through other's mistakes can help us all avoid them AND grow. As we head into a new year, I thought this would be an enlightening discussion.

<img src="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2heads.jpg" alt="" align="left" hspace="10" />Share some tips - Learn some tips.
The answers you share could greatly help others and you can learn something from the answers that get posted as well. I really think the old pros that have been doing this for awhile will be able to really help the newer ones trying to find their way in this Google Local jungle. But even if you are new in the biz, ask yourself and answer this question. You just may learn something.

I've been wanting to start this topic for awhile but a post last week inspired me to get it done.
Travis wrote: http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/consultants-corner/1465-if-you-arent-making-money-local-search.html.
Chris Alphen gave a great reply and I promised to get this post done.

OK here is mine. I will probably add more ideas as I think about it. There are lots of things I would have done differently if I were to start my business over today.

Back when I 1st started my Google Places Optimization business I should have had an assistant and learned to delegate better. I mean I DID hire an assistant to help me with grunt work like citations for awhile. But it didn't really work out well. The biggest problem though was ME! My business grew so fast and I was so swamped I didn't have time to train her. Often it seemed easier to just do things myself instead of teaching someone else. PLUS Google Places is so complicated it's was just really hard to explain what to do in every different type of scenario.

But I REALLY wish I would have pushed through that initial growth spurt (when I went from $0 to over $20K a month in less than 4 months) and just FORCED myself to learn to delegate instead of trying to do everything myself.

Many don't know this, but about 6 months into this business I totally crashed and burned and had to literally close down for 2 months. I didn't intend to build the business that hard and fast! Never advertised, prospected or did a single cold call. It was just like an avalanche. I didn't know about all the dupe problems and bugs, so once I was at 20K a month with that many clients and all the problems started piling up - my business pretty much imploaded. I was working 15/7 and no way I could keep up with all the problems.

I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I can work like a wild woman if it's positive/productive work and I feel I'm making a difference. But there were SO many problems and that's all it seemed like I was doing was whacking dupes and bugs. THEN my carpal totally gave out. It was either quit and rest or face surgery. So I had to close down for a couple months.

I just think this business is WAY too labor intensive to be very successful as a one-person consultant. I really needed help, but just never got to the point of successfully leveraging someone to help me.

<strong>LESSON LEARNED: </strong> Get help and learn to delegate.

I hope that this will turn into a rich discussion filled with lessons-learned and tips for success. Share your lessons, false starts or suggestions for doing things better.
If you give, you just may get back far more than you thought possible.


I told you mine...
Would you please think about the question and share yours???

If you had to start over… what would you do differently???
 

Chris Alphen

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
33
Thanks for sharing that Linda

I intend to think about your question before answering but I just wanted to say thanks for not only sharing your own personal experience but also for taking action like you just did in posing the question in the first place. Also opening up the discussion along these lines. I could go on.

I would like to say though that delegation is hard, particularly for a small business owner. I've done the same things you mentioned, just doing whatever it is because explaining, teaching, etc takes time and it won't come out the way we want.

I also try to avoid shoulda - coulda - and woulda's.

Thanks again Linda
 
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
462
Great post, Linda. And wow...what a success story! That's awesome.

The one thing I would do differently...and one that I'm going to do differently in 2013 - is work on creating systems across the board. You simply cannot scale a business or operate it efficiently without systems (IMHO).

I would also specialize - another thing I'm going to do differently in 2013.

Travis Van Slooten
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,558
Awesome thread. I’m just going to throw in my two cents based on hard experience (c. 2008 – early 2011). A few things I’d do from the very start, if I had to start over again:

1. Realize that it’s going to take at least 1-2 years to get anywhere in the local SEO world. Time to learn the ropes, build an email list with really helpful and useful autoresponders, get some “wins” for early clients who become case-studies/testimonials, etc.

2. Put time into blogging from the get-go. I wish I did this when I started doing local SEO, rather than after a couple years had gone by. It takes a long time to get traction and build a blog that’s actually useful to people, so the sooner you start in earnest, the better.

3. Read broadly – and constantly. Maybe it’s just that I’ve always been a bookworm, but IMHO the trouble with most people who write about SEO/SEM is that they’re narrow and rarely get exposed to ideas outside of “the industry.” They become intellectually inbred. The more widely you can read (ideally because you just like to read widely), the better, but at the very least try to read business-related books that aren’t specific to SEO. I wish Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit were written a couple years earlier than they were, so I could have used their insights from the get-go. Those are just a couple suggestions, but I don’t really think it matters what you read, as long as you’re constantly reading, thinking, and taking note of good ideas you read and think of. If you don’t make time for this, it’s easy to get trapped in a mental bubble and not be able to see outside of it.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,308
Thanks so much Phil those are really great points. I knew or at least hoped this topic would pull some real gems out of seasoned pros like you.

I agree with starting blogging sooner. I started pretty early on but it really does take a long time to get traction. As you are learning and building your business just share stuff you learn and discover. Or blog about and curate industry news. That's really easy to do.
 

Randy Kirk

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
45
I'm another old Geezer, but just published my 8th book on small business in late 2011. I'm not going to say what I would do differently, but rather offer advice based on my five years of building this business to a nice 6 figure net income.

1. It will take five years.
2. Get on retainer
3. Anything you can hire done for $15 an hour or less, hire someone to do it
4. This is a hard business to scale. Partners is probably the only way
5. Start with low prices, then increase your price to new clients when you are covering your personal nut
6. Clients are like dating. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. It has taken me 5 years to have 18 marriages and I'm dating 7
7. Youtube gets me half of my clients. I have 50 or more videos up
8. Join a strong LeTip or BNI. Every member is a potential client
9. Hardest part is figuring out how to parcel time between making current clients happy and prospecting/marketing the consulting biz
10. During those 5 years I've been working 15/7. Not sure how to solve that. Now I'm down to 12/6.5
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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Really good points all Randy. Thanks SO much for sharing!

Ya the juggle between production time, support time and then finding time to prospect was always one of my biggest challenges. The SOLO ROLLERCOASTER.

I'd get a few new Dentists, then be so busy working on their accounts I would not have time to keep posting and marketing to get new clients. Then biz would start to dry up. So I'd get out there and hustle, then get new clients, get busy on production and new leads would dry up again. That's a tough one to overcome!

It even happens to me now. If I get too busy with new training and consulting clients I can't post as much. Then if I'm not as visible or let up on marketing new leads dry up. BUT if I get TOO busy doing all my volunteer work helping the industry here and at the G forum, then I don't have time to take care of clients.

So hard to juggle my balls and keep them all in the air!!! :p
(Inside joke for those that don't know me well yet.)
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,558
As you are learning and building your business just share stuff you learn and discover.
Exactly! It's easy to do, but it's even easier never to get around to, like so many New Year's "resolutions." (Then, when you need exposure for your marketing biz, guess what? You gotta pay until you cry.)
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
73
Great thread. What I realized this year was that many of my services were too labor intensive and not duplicatable at the quality level I demand.

So, after a few colleagues virtually "kicked my butt" I did a reassessment and revamped my entire business.

It has been slow going due to some personal challenges this year but I am conducting a second interview for a new sales consultant and have located a couple of people to help do daily tasks.

What have I learned? (Some of which you all have covered)


  • Delegate
  • Work smarter not harder--which means building a strong team and
  • Build business alliances with complimentary services/product developers
  • Network and brainstorm with like minded people (I started a CEO Coop)

Looking forward to 2013...
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
73
Where is that edit option? LOL

Some of the other comments I wanted to make were that I've been online since 1995 but listened to those who I thought we knowledgeable. Over time I've learned that there is a lot of BS around and to pay attention to trends and my sense of where things are going and the right tasks to do.

Having spent time training under those who were alleged "experts" I am currently going back to basics of how we originally were set up on some of my other properties.

Also, since I have lost everything twice due to an accident and then and inability to produce, I suggest developing a business model that isn't dependent on you solely.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,308
Yes, really good points all and thanks so much for sharing your insights about this.

Sounds like you are going through a major re-org in your business and re-thinking things. Good luck with the re-org and hiring. Sounds like you are heading the right direction!
 

Laustin1878

Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2012
Messages
412
There are some very insightful and educational posts in this thread. It is now mid-2013 and I'd like to know how all of you are doing with this and have you hit all or part of your targets on the items you shared in this thread?

I've been trying to get into a regular "routine" or establish systems to streamline the processes of [local] SEO. I would love to get into blogging but lack confidence. I would like to create as balanced of a schedule for myself as possible. I see more clearly that delegating is important which when I take a step forward into starting a business, I plan on learning this thoroughly.

Glad I stumbled upon this thread.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,308
Luke, thanks for bumping this back up since I'd forgotten about it.

This is a great topic - one we can all learn from! And I know tons of other members have not seen it yet and have lots to share. So I'll tweet it again and see if we can get more input from the community.
 

Laustin1878

Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2012
Messages
412
I figured the best place to learn is to start by finding out where people have made mistakes or wanted to make changes. I'm glad I found this thread.
 

djbaxter

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As much as I love what I do, both my day job and my other ventures, if I was going to start over I'd follow my first love and become a rock star. :D

And not a Matt Cutts rock star... a real rock star, like George Harrison or Eric Clapton or Tom Petty or Neil Young (secretly, I think they're all relieved I opted for psychology.. :D).
 

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