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Sit Back and Rethink: Systems To Grow a Remarkable Business

Over the last month, I’ve gotten a couple requests from a couple of friends and family to handle their SEO campaign as an SEO consultant.

I charge a retainer fee for my SEO services and if those projects go through, it can take my income potentially to more than a full time degree holder in Singapore along side with my other project (also marketed with SEO).

Whilst I may be excited to get started on projects and increase my business revenue, I’m wary that I may fall into a rut.

That’s because, I knew if I didn’t have systems, I would burn out and I wouldn’t be building a truly remarkable business.

What do I mean by that?

To be honest, I don’t really enjoy performing SEO services for other companies, unless it’s for a much greater amount that I’m charging right now. There’s also so many nuances of digital marketing that I can value add as a consultant, hence, in my opinion, my clients are actually hiring me for more value than they are paying for.

That’s also because SEO takes a long time, it requires so much groundwork.

I actually prefer teaching SEO.

When I got into entrepreneurship, I mostly ignored business systems because I only focused on the marketing aspect of my business projects, however, as I get more requests, I’m going to have to sit back, rethink the systems involved. 

Business Systems 

Basically, business systems include how many company functions, from executives, freelancers, shareholders, investors and growth. It’s NOT just about hard work, it’s about systems.  

  • How am I going to manage different projects and different niches?
  • How am I going to communicate with all of them, through email? Through Telegram?
  • Is my client going to provide me with their content?
  • If I’m going to outsource content, what is the quality of content required?

Product Pricing

Every business needs to price their products RIGHT. It needs to be justifiable to the COST, TIME, EFFORT put in.

  • If I hired SEO consultants to help me with my projects, am I making enough money myself?
  • How many projects can an SEO consultant handle in a month?
  • Revenue: 2000 retainer fees X 3 projects = 6000 a month
  • Cost of consultant: 3000 a month
  • Is the cost of hiring justifiable? 

Business Positioning

If you’re in business, and you don’t asking yourself this question: how am I better and different from my comepetitors on a daily basis, you’re going to go out of business extremly fast. That’s the whole idea of positoning.

  • How can I raise prices, get lesser clients, and increase revenue?
  • How can I differentiate my SEO services?
  • The leaders in my industry charge 25000 – 60000 per project, how can I get there?
  • Can you innovate from the current framework that you are using?
  • Instead of a client/ customer relationship, are there potential collaborations that can come out of this arena?

Sit Back and Rethink 

Have you ever wondered why billionaires become billionaires? If you think they did it all by themselves, you’re wrong. They got there because they rely on systems, strategy and human capital to get the job done for them.

Warren Buffet proudly claims that he spends most of his days reading, as opposed to doing.

Ultimately, I don’t just see myself as an SEO consultant. I’m an entrepreneur. Digital marketing is merely a gateway into entrepreneurship.

It’s important for you sit back and rethink your business, as much as your digital marketing campaigns.

Eg. Can you better copy on your service pages be improved and optimized to improve conversions and lead generation?

Yes, you can.

You can always perform deep customer research. You can always hire a direct response copywriter.

There are many ways to go out optimizing, redoing and refining the many aspects of your business. Maybe you don’t need that many administrative staff as you required. Maybe there are overhead costs that aren’t required at all.

How can you increase profit, reduce cost, whilst keeping your customers and clients happy?

How to Commit to Making Your Business Profitable 02

How to Commit to Making Your Business Profitable

I remembered deleting my project because of the quality of content produced at that point of time.

However, in hindsight, I could have merely pivoted from there, and not deleted the whole frigging project! If I had merely pivoted then, I would have had my commercial keywords such as SEO course and SEO consultant ranked by now.

Time Line of How Long I Took

How to COMMIT to Making Your Business Profitable

Started: June 2016
Deleted Everything: Somewhere Inbetween
Starting Optimizing Again: October 2017

If I had persisted, and commited to starting this digital marketing course company in June 2016, I would have had far more progress January 2017. Instead, I freaked out, deleted everything, and called it a day.

It took me years and years, to be confident of myself and commit to making it in a project. It takes approximately 6 months to see results in SEO. Can you commit to the 6 months without backtracking?

This is why the psychology of growing your business is equally, and if not MORE important than tactics and strategies.

Execution is more Important than Knowledge: 

Here’s what many people say on a day to day life:

‘I SHOULD ask her out’
‘I SHOULD open an investment account’
‘I SHOULD start a business’
‘I SHOULD be practicing my accounting homework’

Courage and willpower are limited. Human motivation is a fascinating topic.

‘Just putting your mind’ to it is stupid fvcking advice. It’s hard to perform in what you’re not interested in.

However, assuming you are working on something your interested in. 

How do Your Friends Perceive You?

The people around you make and break your life, in every single aspect.

It’s simply not enough to read the books. Your identity, habits will be very much influenced by people you associate yourself with. People talk about willpower all the time. It’s utter rubbish. This is psychologically researched.

Our culture, friends, family and influences determine a great deal of how all of us behave in:

  1. Wealth
  2. Relationships

Our identity is intrinsically tied to how you are accepted amongst your peers, friends and family.

Since this blog is about entrepreneurship, how can you redefine yourself amongst your friends and family in this area of your life?

How can you build systems around your life, so that you’ll form the right habits when it comes to entrepreneurship.

How can you create simple systems in your life to make sure that you continue on track with your business progress?

This can be as simple as making sure you publish three times on your website a week and track your traffic progress for the next 6 months. Entrepreneurship is lonely and difficult. Sometimes you’re all alone in Starbucks for the entire day. How can you stay motivated and productive?

I’ll be writing a lot more about these concepts in the near future.

Think Like a CEO – Minimize Your Costs while Getting Customers 01

Think Like a CEO – Minimize Your Costs while Getting Customers

For half a decade, I shifted around the identity of a student, entrepreneur and freelancer.

In all honesty, I was insecure of what I could achieve, by downplaying myself, procrastinating on my projects. I deleted my projects months after months of investing efforts into them, thinking that they would not turn out well despite investing years and tens of thousands into my entrepreneurial education.

This is why:

The psychology of growing a business is equally as important than the skillsets required to run a business itself.

Think Like a CEO – Minimize Your Costs while Getting Customers

When I was a freelance SEO consultant in Singapore, I often got pushed around by my clients. It’s not enough to be a freelancer and compete on price. It’s almost impossible. You need to be different in the way you present your proposal and pitch.

It was close to impossible.  

However, I wasn’t thinking like a CEO. I was thinking from a freelancer perspective. I wasn’t thinking from a business perspective. My sales pitch was poor, and I couldn’t drive my point across.

It’s important to learn from the best, read from the best and surround yourself with the best.

Here’s an interview transcript from someone I respect, and learnt from personally:

Think Like a CEO – Minimize Your Costs while Getting Customers 01

 

From this interview, you can tell that the most important aspect of business is customers, you need to get customers to purchase your services. No matter your industry is.

Keeping Cost Low 

Here’s another golden nugget:

Think Like a CEO – Minimize Your Costs while Getting Customers 02

If one of the top agencies in Singapore operates out of a co-working space when starting out, why shouldn’t you minimize your start up cost?

I often hear of entrepreneurs start out with huge start up costs: fancy offices, printers, staff and unnecessary costs.

When I was a freelancer, I operated out of Starbucks daily. That’s a $7 per day rent, and $210 per month, inclusive of a cup of warm coffee daily.

In fact, I’m writing this article out of Starbucks.

Secondly, aside from lower your costs and investing in your marketing campaigns. You’ll need to differentiate yourself from the market.

Figure Out Your Positioning Every Single Day

There’s a question I ask myself everyday. How can I be different and better than everyone in the market?

Why would someone learn SEO from me in my SEO course as opposed to my competitors? How can I serve my customers in a way that my competition can’t?

Here are some ideas that you can steal:

  • Copywriting

Yes, you get your traffic from Google. What’s next? It’s to converting those traffic to paying customers. Writing great copy allows that.

Just so you know: I plan to get really good at copywriting.

  • Positioning

The majority of SEO companies are happy to promise Google page 1 rankings for $500 a month.

I’ll never do that.

Here’s what I’ll tell my clients:

  • I’m building you your twenty-four seven salesman that’ll serve you for years and years after, you’ll have to pay premium for that
  • If you aren’t able to afford my SEO services, I recommend going for my SEO course. I teach everything from SEO to copywriting to positioning in my courses.
  • I only serve clients that value my work. Serve the few, great clients. I’ve had troublesome clients in the past. Some times, it’s not worth the work and the money.

Lastly, how can I position myself as a luxury brand? Ever wondered why people pay $7 for a cup of Starbucks?

It’s not that hard to figure.

Branding and brilliant positioning. It’s the attention to details, the lights are slightly deemed, there’s free Wi-Fi, the smell of coffee isn’t too heavy, how Starbucks coffee shops are designed. They are a constant all around the world.

They give you an experience that no other coffee shop brands can give you.

Wow, you never thought how everyday occurrences can be applied to digital marketing right?

Now you know. It’s up to you to minimize your cost, differentiate yourself from the market, and get paying customers.

 

Should I Document the Journey of Building an Online Business

Should I Document the Journey of Building an Online Business?

I started off with my digital marketing career as an SEO consultant in Singapore, coming from an SEO background.

However, recently, I made a huge investment into learning the ropes of creating an online business.

This means:

  • Creating online products such as online courses
  • Tapping into the entire internet as my potential customer, not limiting myself to local search results

The Learning Curve of Building an Online Business

Here’s what I realized:

The learning curve of starting an online business is HUGE. I also learned a great deal about digital marketing in general just by investing in one course. I had to learn about copywriting, positioning and email marketing.

There are definitely overlaps that can be applied in my SEO consulting business.

The Different Models 

Creating online products aren’t the only way to create online businesses. There are different business models such as launching a consultancy, ranking a website, lead generation that allows you to work off your laptop.

This was one of the reasons why I started Pink Elephant Consultancy. I wanted to be able to handle SEO projects location independently.

Documenting the Journey of Building an Online Business

Whilst I’m keeping my business, providing SEO courses and services to Singapore small medium enterprises, a interesting way to curate content is to document my journey of starting a completely online, online business.

The learning curve is steep and just by documenting my ideas, I’m pretty sure my audience are able to learn something from it.

What do you think?

How to Deal with Business Uncertainty

How to Deal with Business Uncertainty – The Pivot Mindset

Just a couple of months ago, I hit a setback in my entrepreneurial journey. I wasn’t generating enough sales from my side project. It was something I was really passionate about, and I had spent years of effort building the project.

However, I violated one of the rules of Google SEO marketing: you can’t sell ice to an Eskimo.

Here’s the demand for coaching in Singapore, from an SEO standpoint: 

How to Deal with Business Uncertainty

If you’re taking a conversion rate of 3% a month, I’m getting 2.1 leads a month. Not sales, just leads. It’s sobering to say that it’s not a sustainable business model if I were to only market my services through Google.

I was confused for a while, and I didn’t know what to do. Should I perhaps target the keyword: life coaching Singapore? Which has far more demand than the one I’m currently targeting.

Since there wasn’t much demand from an SEO standpoint here in Singapore. I got a little depressed.

I then play around the idea of selling online courses to the rest of the internet.

Eureka!

I’m no longer limited to local SEO and the marketing in Singapore. I got the entire internet as my potential customer.

That’s a pivotal moment.

In the past, I would get depressed and delete my projects. However, there’s no need to delete anything, it’s a matter of restarting and pivoting.

I was so invested in my abilities as an SEO expert that I had ignored other digital marketing business models. Furthermore, it was only through further education that I had learnt about the concepts of positioning and copywriting.

If you failed at one aspect of your business, don’t give up, just take the lessons, data, and move on to better models. That’s something that most people get wrong (including myself), we just give up and think that we automatically suck. We identify with the failure.

However, if you are able to take the step back and ask yourself what went wrong, you’ll be able to identify your errors point by point.

Here are some ideas:

  • Did you track your key performance indicators?
  • Did you define your target audience?
  • Did you position your product or service properly?
  • Did you write persuasive copy?

These were the glaring questions that I faced. I had to go back to the drawing block, and re-learn old strategies.

How to Deal with Business Uncertainty – The Pivot Mindset

The best people in the world are able to take information from anywhere and apply it to their current businesses or life. Just because a previous framework doesn’t work for you, does not mean that it won’t come in useful down the line.

The majority of businesses and startups are a constant pivot. You can be working on an angle (that you’re sure that will work) for months and end up having to change and pivot 6 months down the road. Whilst the majority of people will just give up there and then, you just have to take a step back and see what went wrong.

When things don’t work, just take a step back, and change course. That’s a pivoting mindset.

The advantages of digital marketing are that you can pivot fast. You can change your sales copy within a couple of hours. You can run a paid campaign and collect data in a couple of days. However, the fact that it’s so malleable, can work against you as well. You’ll need to test with data collected.

When you have a pivotal mindset, you’ll be able to deal with business uncertainty.

I teach all of these in my SEO courses.

The Ethics of Marketing and Should You Cross It

Ethics of Direct Sales Copywriting and Should You Cross It?

Direct sales copywriting often walk a fine line. It’s something I’ve been interested in recently.

How can I be persuasive in my sales copy and NOT cross the line? How can I make you want to purchase from me, right there and then, and at the same time letting you know the full deal you’re getting out of it?

How can I hold your attention?

The State of Digital Marketing Courses in Singapore: Over Promised and Under Delivered

I told a friend recently: money sells. That’s the ultimate benefit.

How many of us desire:

  • Increase in income
  • Make money online from all around the world
  • Be your own boss
  • No more nasty colleagues

Well, it’s the most of us.

These are the common benefits marketed in most of these courses.

Ethics of Direct Sales Copywriting and Should You Cross It

However, can you really market an entrepreneurship course? Can you really teach entrepreneurship? There’s just so much an entrepreneur has to go through, from writing content to positioning, to getting over his own psychological barriers and charge for his services.

There’s no magic bullet course or formula for entrepreneurial success.

It took me 3 years to go from freelance to entrepreneur. Can you believe that? Was it something that was taught in the digital market courses I paid for? Not really. The majority of it gave me technical advice, there’s very little that addresses the psychology of starting and growing a business.

Ethics of Direct Sales

However, at the end of the day, I know that business owners aren’t looking just for SEO rankings. They want different things. They want benefits, not features. Increased income is a common denominator.

This is why wealth creation courses often flourish in Singapore.

Which brings me to my next point.

What draws the line in direct sales? What can you write and what can you not write in your sales copy? Can you over promise to your customer? If you write something on paper, you have to be surely to back it up.

However, if you’re too vanilla in your marketing. You don’t stand out, and you bore the market.

No one buys from you.

Ethical Persuasion

Marketing is about values. In fact, how you run your company is about values. What does your company stand for? I got into this entrepreneurship thing because I wanted to make more money. I also wanted the freedom. However, there’s something to be said about winning ethically.

If you make a million dollars over promising products and services, you may be a success financially, however, you’re a bankrupt morally.

This goes the same for me as an SEO consultant in Singapore. There are ways to win, and there are ways to not win. In the long run, what kind of brand do I want to build for myself through this channel?

I’m writing all my articles. I’m also pretty sure that most of the SEO experts or SEO course trainers in Singapore don’t write their own content. I only know one other SEO in Singapore that writes his own content.

Persuasion can be misleading and misused. However, I believe in ethical persuasion. If you have a great product, you should feel guilt free and promote it. You should not hold back in marketing it.

The digital marketing world is a noisy and messy world.

How can you stand out in a noisy world?

How to Respond When Clients Think You are Too Expensive

How to Respond When Clients Think You are Too Expensive?

‘Why is your quote 1500 when others are 1200?’

I hate emails like that. In fact, I hate customers like that. The first thing they look for in a service, is price. Not value. Yet, these are the very people that are willing to spend half a million on luxury cars, as opposed to a Toyota.

I hear this time and time again as a freelance SEO consultant. Despite telling them I’m not some random Indian company that spams with your inbox with shit poor pitches, the majority of them won’t take up the offer.

I got butt hurt for a while. However, that ignited a new fire. I was going to master this copywriting and persuasion subject.

Is SEO rankings the end all for my prospects? Or is it clients, sales, enquires, money, million dollar businesses, freedom or choice?

Why did I get into SEO in the first place?

  • I didn’t want to sell to family and friends
  • I want my customers to be complete strangers, so there’s NEVER any hurt feelings involved
  • It’s for scalability. Instead of running around networking meets ups (which is a hit or miss) I get to tap into the laser targeted audience from the search engines
  • I can get enough leads to fire annoying clients

SEO rankings are a means to an end. Yes, I need those rankings, however, why do I need those rankings?

This taught me a huge lesson in understanding the language and psychology of my audience.

How to Respond When Clients Think You are Too Expensive 02

Positioning – Why are You Different?

One of the age old business mantra is to never compete through price. There’s always someone else who’s willing to undercut you. You’ll need to position yourself better in your market.

Here are some position ideas that I came up with for my own company:

  • Stress on the fact that I had invested tens of thousands of dollars in SEO courses and digital marketing training
  • Yes, formal credentials such as a Google partner company is important, however, at the end of the day, it’s about results.

Compete on Value, and Not Price

I often tell my clients and my student, you aren’t just learning SEO from me. You’re getting my business knowledge as well. In my SEO courses, I go ahead and beyond in teach you:

These concepts aren’t SEO concepts, however, that’s MY value add.

Wrong Clients and Opportunity Cost

Once, my Dad told me: why don’t just do it cheap for X client. I did consider it. However, I measured the pros and cons.

I could spend the time building a marketing machine for X client. Or I can spend the time building a marketing machine for MYSELF!

You’ll need to ask yourself: is this client worth it? What are the opportunity costs on taking this client on?

There aren’t just opportunity costs in business, there are opportunity costs such as:

  • You could have spent the time on advancing your marketing knowledge
  • You could have taken a holiday instead (I’m not kidding, I do take these personal issues into account)

Some times, there will be clients who always use price as a means to ask for a discount or slash your prices down. The way to respond to clients that think you are too expensive is to educate them on YOUR value add. Of course, you’ll also need to great at what you do. You’ll need to teach them to revere your work.

Other times, you’ll need to just let your prospect go and say: Sorry, you’re not the right fit at this point of time.

How to Conquer the Fear of Starting Your Own Business

How to Conquer the Fear of Starting Your Own Business

In this interview, I sit down with Jazz, and asked him how he managed to go from zero clients, to monthly paying clients, without any fanciful marketing strategy. He used digital platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to get his clients.

How to Conquer the Fear of Starting Your Own Business: Key Takeaways

  • Just start

Starting is always the hardest and the scariest. However, once you’re up and walking, you’ll slowly be able to run. I held back from 3 years before launching my business as an SEO consultant, preferring to stick with the word ‘freelancer’ for 3 years.

Can you imagine that?

This is why I write a lot on the psychology of growing your business.

  • Create something you’re proud of, be great at what you do

Jazz was sick of working for big corporate gyms where sales and bottomline was the only focus for the company and the sales team.

I personally pride myself as an ethical digital marketing course provider, especially so in my SEO courses.

  • Try out all platforms

He got most of his clients from referrals, Facebook marketing and instagram. It’s up to you if you want to use SEO as a strategy, or social media marketing.

Whilst he’s a born hustler, I’m a systems thinker. This is why I dived deep into SEO as a marketing strategy in the beginning, because it’s a system. 

 

Marketing is about Values

Marketing is about Values

In the noisy world of digital marketing, the information economy and the multitude of ways to get results, I’ve been left in a distraught space recently. There are old frameworks that worked, newer frames that still work and the evergreen frameworks that’ll work day after day, year after year.

In the world of SEO there a multitude of ways to win:

Best framework: You can rank for your keywords through great content and genuine content promotion, earning powerful do follow backlinks.

Older framework (but still works): You can rank for your commercial keywords through not so great content, however, by understanding how page rank is distributed in your website.

Oldest framework: Splashing out 200 pages targeting long tailed keywords and waiting for ‘Google to give you ranks’, as said by an ‘SEO guru’.

Unethical frameworks: link purchases, black hat SEO and frameworks I don’t understand.

Marketing is about Values

The question is, should you be spending time on X or Y? Should you always aim for the best framework, despite the huge upfront work, the potential for rejection, and the complexity of the model?

Well, as Steve Jobs once said, marketing is about values.

Ethical Marketing 

I had conversation with an engineer who said he’s genetically hardwired to hate marketing and preferred to take an accounting and engineering point of view towards marketing. However, the truth is, the world is run on marketing.

You’re never really purchasing the technology behind Apple computers. You’re buying the perception of the product. However, is the product great? You sure is. Steve Jobs did an even better job by making his marketing great.

Should you use the best framework, or should you be reliant on frameworks that still work? That’s a question I ask myself almost everyday, as an SEO consultant, SEO course educator and entrepreneur.

Ultimately, marketing is about values. What are my values, what are yours? Something to think about.

Interview with Heritage Global Fund Founder - Xavier See

Interview with Heritage Global Fund Founder – Xavier See

I had the pleasure of sitting down for a couple of hours with a personal friend of mine. He runs a fund Heritage Global Fund in Singapore managing capital investments up to 8 figures.

Interview with Heritage Global Fund Founder – Xavier See

I’m always interested in how people grow their companies.

Here are our company, I take a digital approach as an SEO expert. However, Xavier grew his fund through a different approach, relying on trust and reputation brought over from his previous position in his tiles manufacturing company.

How to Solve Real Business Problems

In the second part of our interview, we talked about solving real business problems. When he was in the tiles manufacturing industry, manufacturing and selling tiles itself wasn’t the actual solution.

However, customizing the tiles to fit his client’s needs was the real solution. 

This is similar to digital marketing. The real problem isn’t owning a website. However, it’s getting customers and clients. The real problem is generating revenue.

We also touched on differentiation, positioning and how to avoid being a commodity.

Yes, you can have traffic on search engines. However, how can you position yourself as compared to your other choices? How to get your customers to pick you, over their other choices?

I teach all of these in our SEO course.