Bruce Harpham is an author and business consultant based in Toronto, Canada. He helps software companies get more leads with content marketing. His first book, “Project Managers At Work” (2017), shared insights from the world’s best project managers at NASA, Google, IBM, and other organizations. His second book, on marketing growth strategies for software companies, will be released in the fall of 2020. Bruce’s articles have appeared on publications such as Canadian Business, CIO.com, InfoWorld, and I.T. World Canada.
Bruce runs a question and answer interview series on his blog to help marketing professionals in the software industry achieve their goals. The series has featured ClickFunnels, Close.io, JustCall.io, PhoneWagon, and other companies. To learn more about the interview series and everything else Bruce is working on, visit BruceHarpham.com.
Outside of work, Bruce enjoys world travel, reading science fiction and fantasy, wine, and studying history.
Where did the idea for BruceHarpham.com come from?
I started my company a few years ago based on my experience as a technology journalist. I contributed articles to CIO.com, InfoWorld, I.T. World Canada, and related publications. In doing that work, I frequently worked with marketing and publicity professionals at technology companies. I realized that I enjoyed research, writing, and the challenge of marketing. Therefore, I started my business focused on helping B2B technology companies get more leads through content marketing.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
In 2020, the structure of my typical day has evolved as a result of the pandemic. I have been fortunate to have a good home office set up as well. My typical day starts early, and I run through a series of habits, including reading, meditation, exercise, and learning.
I make each day productive by restricting my focus to a maximum of three priority tasks each day. Those daily tasks usually link back to my annual goals, so that I make steady progress.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life through research and exploring ideas with other people. I start by asking the question “who else has worked on an idea similar to what I have in mind?” Based on that question, I start researching and developing my approach.
For example, I wrote my first book, “Project Managers At Work,” in 2017 by interviewing project management leaders at NASA, Google, IBM, and the Canadian Space Agency. More recently, I started a Q&A interview series on my blog where I interview successful marketing leaders at marketing companies (e.g., Sharing The ExecVision Marketing Journey: A SaaS Marketing Q&A Interview With Sam Niro)
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited by the tremendous growth in remote work in 2020. This trend has been unfolding for decades, but it took a significant leap forward this year. According to Stanford University, 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working from home remotely. As a result of this trend, we may see decreased demand for cars and transport and increased demand for larger homes that include a home office space.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Starting my day early and running through the same habits each morning has been a game-changer. This habit took me a long time to develop. In my undergraduate days, I struggled to make it to my 10 am classes even though I lived on campus. I admit that I am still working on this habit today. Getting up early to start the day on my terms – with reading, exercise, and a few other habits – has made me much happier and productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to start investing earlier. Even if I had only invested $50 or $100 per month in my early 20s, that would have been a game-changer. The pay yourself first habit is so important!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If you are a driven person, then you need to carve out time for rest and leisure activities. This point is even more important if you work from home because it is easy to blur the boundary between work and home.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I have a daily writing practice to grow my business. In May and June, I focused my writing practice on writing a business book. Today, I’m applying this writing practice to crafting this interview. I’m a strong believer in writing as a methodology to clarify one’s thinking and grow your business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I reach out to other websites and offer guest contributions. Using this process, I built up my first business, ProjectManagementHacks.com, to more than 10,000 monthly visitors. I am now using this strategy to grow my marketing business. For example, I recently published “How to Improve Your Conversion Rates Without Expensive Market Research” on Insights For Professionals.
The strategy involves several steps. First, I look for websites committed to a high level of content quality relevant to my goals. Second, I check whether the website accepts guest contributions. Third, I write up a short pitch with 2-3 specific ideas tailored to that website.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In 2017, I was working with a significant client, and it was going well. We worked together for months. Then the client became too busy to provide feedback. I assumed that all was well and simply kept working on the project and submitting invoices.
Eventually, that project came to an abrupt end because the client was dissatisfied. Based on previous experience with this client, there was probably $10,000 in additional revenue I could have earned from working with the client if I had made greater efforts to engage them in the process.
As a result of this experience, I remind myself to take a more proactive approach to client satisfaction.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a digital product based on a unique set of data that you have. By using Glide, you can quickly build a software product based on a spreadsheet. For example, Nathan Latka has created an impressive business database for B2B software companies. Nobody else has that type of data, so people pay him to access this data.
Ask yourself which kind of highly valuable data you could package into a product.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
On the personal side, one of my friends recently started an occasional “Wine and book” package. For about $70, she offers a curated package of three bottles of wine, a surprise book, and excellent wine tasting notes. It has been a delightful way to discover new wines and expand my horizons.
On the professional side, I would recommend the Full Focus Planner. I use this product every day to plan my daily tasks, review progress on my goals, and stay organized. While I love digital tools, I find using a paper planner very helpful because it forces you to choose which tasks are most important. After all, there’s only so much you can fit onto the page. As a result, I have a clear focus on three high priority tasks to do each day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Schedule Once helps me stay productive because it makes it much easier to schedule calls with clients. For example, a potential client in Australia used it to schedule an appointment with me. By setting up my schedule availability for phone calls, I can simply send the booking link to other people and let them choose an appointment. I once missed a sales call appointment because I forgot about time zone differences. Schedule Once keeps me on track!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I read “Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know” by James Carbary earlier this year and found it highly valuable. Through podcasting, Carbary has expanded his network and built his business. In this short book, he lays out a process to grow your network by producing content. I have used the book’s advice to publish industry interviews on my website, BruceHarpham.com
What is your favorite quote?
“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
– James Clear, “Atomic Habits”
- The $10,000 lesson I learned from a business mistake in 2017
- How to save endless back and forth scheduling emails with one simple software app
- Why using a pen and paper planner improves my focus more than any digital tool on the market
- The one book that made networking easy and sustainable for non-party animal
- How to use a low-cost app to create a business based on a spreadsheet full of data