What is your background briefly?
When I was 21 years old – fresh out of Uni – I decided I wanted to be an oil trader. That’s where all the money is, right? Only problem was, I knew nothing about the financial markets or world economics…, and my maths skills were terrible.
So what did I do? I went to the library, took out as many books as I could, rented a room with no TV or Internet, studied for a month, then beat 10,000 highly qualified applicants for the job…people who’d been in the industry for years, people with MBAs and Masters degrees.
And that’s set the tone for my entire entrepreneurial life. I like to defy the odds.
By 24, having successfully traded through the subprime crisis (when all around me were losing their shirts), I decided I needed a new challenge.
So…I co-founded my first business which was a trader education company. Within six months we’d grown the company to be partnered, endorsed and sponsored by some of the largest financial institutions in the world, including the CME Group (market cap $31.77 billion) and IG Group (£2.2 billion) amongst others.
And that’s when I caught the online marketing bug…
— Mem (@workplayeat) May 16, 2016
What are you working on now?
Most of my time is spent working on client projects. I manage the online presence for a range of clients including TV stars, media publications and tech start-ups from around the world. I’m lucky that most of my business comes from word of mouth, and I’m able to turn down the majority of inquiries to work with me.
I’ve recently started a blog over at businessmem.com where I share my entrepreneurial journey as well as tips and strategies for online entrepreneurs.
The thing that’s got me most excited at the moment is my J Curve Challenge. I’ve started a side project to grow a site from scratch, in an industry I know nothing about, and sell it for $30k within a 16 months. I’m documenting every step on the blog. Should be fun!
What helped you grow your business?
A few things:
- I’m an avid learner. Ironic really, since I was terrible at school. I take as many business and marketing courses as I can, I read constantly, and I listen to podcasts all the time. I think that’s my big advantage. I know I’m not the finished article and I’m desperate to keep improving.
- I’m a workaholic. When I’m passionate about something, I can’t switch off. I’m very much an ‘all or nothing’ person.
- I’m big into automation. If something’s repetitive or taking up too much of my time, I’ll either find a software that solves my problem or have one created for me. About two years ago I made the decision to start using more software and hiring less people. I’m glad I took that decision because at one stage, when I was focused on growing a marketing agency, I was spending more time managing egos than running a business, and I hated it. Since I’ve pivoted into a consultancy based model (with lots of software and only a few team members) I’m a lot happier.
— Mem (@workplayeat) June 2, 2016
Looking back is there anything you’d do differently?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes most of which I wouldn’t change for the world, but there’s two things that instantly come to mind when I’m asked this question.
- I wouldn’t have done a Law degree, or the very least I’d have dropped out when I realized it wasn’t for me. At the time I didn’t have the guts to drop out for fear of letting down my parents. That was a wasted three years. Looking back at it, I wish I’d studied a business degree that might have actually been useful.
- I wish I’d made better hiring decisions. One story immediately springs to mind was when I hired a software developer from Gumtree who ended up costing me over £100,000 in lost earnings and effectively killed my first business. It’s a long story but I learnt my lesson the hard way – pay peanuts, get monkeys.
If you’re interested, I share the 9 things I’ve learned in four years as an entrepreneur on my blog.
What tips would you give to others starting out now?
Don’t make the mistake of jumping in head first. Spend your time researching. Be super clear who your audience are, where you’re going to find them, and how you’re going to get them to take notice.
The number one problem I see on a daily basis is people who think that just because they’ve made a fancy site, the whole world is suddenly going to come flooding to their store. It doesn’t work like that.
And it’s the same for anything online, whether you’re launching a crowdfunding project or you’re trying to get your Saas business to take off….you need to prepare beforehand and have a very clear plan of action.
No one gives a crap about your business unless you can show them how you can benefit their lives, and even then you’ve only got a few seconds to convince them!
— Mem (@workplayeat) June 27, 2016
Who do you follow for your inspiration and insights?
I listen to a lot of podcasts because I love hearing stories of other entrepreneurs.
One of the best and most inspirational out there is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. His honest approach to online business is very refreshing and he’s a great role model.
His show helped me realize that your income is directly proportional to the amount of value you provide. The more people you can help, for free, without expecting anything in return, the more money you’ll earn. That was a big realization.
Facebook wasn't the 1st. There was Bebo, MySpace & a load of others. Wanan know why they succeeded? This pic.twitter.com/ftrcMDyUYS
— Mem (@workplayeat) August 2, 2016
We can be online 24/7, how do you manage your work life balance?
I’m not great at the whole work life balance thing. Weekends are my play time. Friday at 4pm I switch off the work phone and try not to check emails/Slack etc. That’s easier said than done sometimes.
During the week, I work hard. I make time for the gym but other than that, I’m not a big watcher of TV, I do all my socializing during the weekends, so Monday to Friday I’m pretty much all work.