Virtually anything can be accomplished if you give your absolute best.
Alexandra’s input as far as design goes is priceless for BigBangThemes, and her love for pixel perfect designs is inspiring. She comes up with awesome designs and creatives, keeping the BigBangThemes online presence looking fresh and professional. Loves photography, sports and outdoors, and loves spending her pastime editing photos and having quality family time.
Where did the idea for BigBangThemes come from?
BigBangthemes started a few years ago as a WordPress theme-making company. I always had a love for great looking designs and at that time this was the perfect way to express my creativity. We’re now in the process of migrating to a SaaS business model for our html Email Builder so we’re all hands on deck for this migration.
The idea for the email builder was definitely not something that came right away. At first we started selling email tempaltes as well as WordPress themes. Than, we saw a need in the market for those emails to be easily editable. We went through 3 builders in 6 years, starting with one that was allowing you to easily change colors. Believe me or not – that was groundbreaking at the time :).
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We’re a full remote company, so finding the right ballance between work and personal life was not always easy. My day usually starts with a great cup of coffee and some internet browsing. This helps boost my creativity and keeps me updated with the latest design trends.
I would say that the key to being productive is listening to what your mood is saying (to some extent). Taking a short break when you feel you’re about to reach an overburn point can really boost your overall productivity. It’s true that no two days are the same though, but your body is definitely trainable and if you persist in having the same sort of schedule it will eventuall start catching up on the pattern.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Since we’re an internet company, once an idea comes up one of the first things we do is keyword research. This helps us nail down the feasibility of the project. Is there something like that online? Would it be hard to be better than the competitors? Are the keywords hard to rank for? Are there enough searches for those keywords? This last question also helps answer a vital question for any business, which is – ‘Is there a need for this on the market’? After we have the answers to these questions we’re off to design and content creation.
Take for example our TicketLab WordPress theme. It’s an end-2-end WordPress ticketing theme and knowledge base. The only one of its kind on the web. There are still some amazing oportunities waiting for you out there, and as technology evolves, more will appear. Never think that everything has been done.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The overall growth of Email Marketing as the absolute best means of client engagement has to be my choice. What’s great about email marketing is that (if done right) it can provide an amazing bond between your business and your clients.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I already mentioned this but it can’t be stressed enough. Taking a timely break can really supercharge your productivity. I’ve met so many people – from fellow entrepreneurs to employees – who simply power through their overburn symptoms. All this does is make them less productive now, and less productive in the future as well. It’s important to give your mind the appropriate time to rest, just like a great sports champion would give his body time to rest.
Obviously this goes to some extent, but I’m not speaking about lazy children who want to play around all day, I’m talking from an entrepreneur’s mindset. If you’re an entrepreneur you’re surely working 10-12, even 14 hours a day. Weekends? Pff! What’s that, right? Well, yes, this is all fine, but you need to listen to your body. Take a day off, even if it is the middle of the week. If you feel like you’ve had enough, give yourself enough time to recharge and rest your mind.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn SEO / Marketing sooner I guess. It took us some time to get up to scratch with the latest SEO/Marketing trends, and truth be told, hiring help never really paid off for us in this department. The (dirty) truth about SEO is that it’s something that anybody can do really well, but very few actually do it. This is probably because there’s just so many aspects to SEO, so many things you need to take care of.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Virtually anything can be accomplished if you give your absolute best. Oh, and ‘The Secret’ (law of attraction) is absolutely 100% true! I keep telling everybody that if you really make this ideology your own, you can absolutely get it working in your favor.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Check and measure employee productivity. When I say this I don’t mean snooping in to see if they’re working or not at any given time. Au contraire actually. We have a hands-off approach giving our employees loads of room for breaks and relaxation, but we always keep tabs on key performance indicators to measure productivity. This can be project deadlines, lead generation rates, conversion rates. Whatever is important for your business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Building the best product out there was always something we strived for. When we first created a drag and drop email builder it was the best for that age (4 years ago), and 2 years later we decided to create a new one just to stay a few steps ahead! I believe that there’s really no way of imposing yourself online without building the best possible version of a software. This is absolutely why the internet is so beautiful. Helps bring together the most talented people in any niche.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I could easily name several. Failing to grow as fast as we wanted, or failing to produce certain products as soon as we needed to. All of these were down to us spreading ourselves too thin and trying to do too much at a time. We simply had to analyse what we’re doing wrong and make some much needed rerouting. We had to start focusing on what was most important for that period, and get it done.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This is a fun question! Just off the top of my head – but it might be worth looking into – I think that building a real thorough and cool intercom tool/SaaS for businesses would be a great idea. A hub for small and medium businesses to coordinate, save important files and share confidential information.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Monthly subscription to Ahrefs I think. There’s just so much useful data in there that you can use to improve your marketing efforts and reverse engineer what your competitors are doing.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I already mentioned we’re a full remote team. To help everybody be productive and keep good track of their work, we’re using Hubstaff. It’s a real cool tracking software that reports on your activity levels and really helps you keep track of your work rate. It provides really cool reports like percentages of keyboard or mouse usage, and all sorts of useful stats that show if you were productive or not quite 🙂
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a much bigger fan of reading blogs than books, just because they’re always based on the latest and greatest techniques you can use to grow your business. To that extent, some blogs I’d recommend reading are Hubstaff’s, Buffer’s, Ahrefs’ and our own BigBangThemes blog for some really cool actionable methods on building your business. Books rarely offer the amazing Case Studies you can find online. Either good or bad, reading a case study will help you immensely
What is your favorite quote?
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” – E. F. Schumacher . This encapsulates for me what you need to do in the modern days to stay ahead.
- Give your mind the rest it needs. Just like an athlete’s muscles, it needs rest too.
- Track productivity using KPI’s. Anything important for your business can be one (lead generation, sales, great ratings).
- Build the best product you can. This is really the only way to succeed online. If you don’t do it, someone else will!
- Read blogs instead of books. Look for case studies. Look for case studies on how things failed so you avoid making the same mistakes.
- This sounds like a cliche, but think outside of the box. Look further than what’s right in front of you. Go in a different direction. Eventually this will help your business stand out.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.