Dave Schulhof

Take time to spot some of the little things and keep informed of what is happening in the business day to day.


David Schulhof is the Owner/Director at search marketing agency, Red Hot Penny.

Dave is a serial entrepreneur and is an expert in helping brands & retailers drive growth through digital marketing. He takes a custom-made approach to marketing strategy with activity tailored to client goals and with acquisition strategies designed and executed across multiple digital channels.

His clients have said goodbye to useless data – they get the insights they need to ensure their marketing succeeds.

Dave has significant experience in the Retail, Ecommerce, Travel & Financial Services. He’s a regular media commentator and speaker on SME growth challenges and marketing strategy

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Red Hot Penny spawned following a successful joint venture between three different companies which covered Ecommerce Platform, Marketing, Creative and Logistics for UK department store, Marks & Spencer. We then merged into a single company and Red Hot Penny was the best name to adopt. We’ve then evolved into a Search Marketing agency.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I get up about 6am and will spend some time my daughters. I am usually in the office for between 07:30 and 08:00 and plan my day ahead. I like to spend some time on LinkedIn first thing and reading latest news from places such as the Drum and Retail Week. My day is usually split up into with…
One or two meetings with a retailer or possible new client. These are over the phone or via video call or most commonly, we go to their offices. I really prefer to meet with someone in their own environment, you can pick up so much more.
Then usually I’m working on a pitch deck, catching up with colleagues on various projects. We’ve just started working with ROAD iD providing advice on its UK launch. I’ll generally put in a couple of hours on this. Then before I leave work I’ll spend some more time in LinkedIn.
I’m home for just after six pm, so I get an hour with my daughters. I make sure to be home for bedtime at least three times a week. Then after the girls are asleep I tie up any loose ends.
To make my day productive I block out time in my day to just get stuff done, respond to emails etc. This stops people putting meetings in back-to-back, I hate this as it doesn’t allow me time to check in with the team and keep my finger on the pulse. I don’t leave each day until all things that “have to be done” are done otherwise is just makes the next day a nightmare.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m one to jump on an idea. First I write it down so I don’t forget it, then I’ll gather the relevant people together to discuss. I use this as a qualification process. If the team agrees and show the same enthusiasm then it’s allocated as a project to the right people. If they don’t like it its goes in the “archive” aka the bin.
I don’t like to dwell on bad ideas. Focus on the next good one.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Voice search I find really interesting as the arrival of Google Home and Alexa expedited the uptake of voice in our daily lives. There’s some challenges around using voice successfully and how it can be measured. There are lots of gaps and unknowns still but with likes of Amazon and Google in the game it will only continue to pick up pace. .

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Ensuring I am in the office before everyone else before any new issues or activities I need to be involved in. It means I can start my day the way I need it to. Nothing worse than arriving and being hit with something urgent before I even get to my desk. Its small but makes a real difference as sets me up for the day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Make sure you have a personal life, so that you can reward yourself for the businesses successes.
Don’t mix business and your home life and give yourself time to recharge and switch off.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Working hard is important but it’s not about working all hours, you’ve only got one life so use it carefully. Work smarter so you’ve a balance.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Always take time each day to step back and look up. It’s easy to be always focused on driving forward but step back, assess, observe your team and spot any issues. Does someone look unhappy or is the environment a bit flat? Someone once told me that as a leader you’re responsible for your team’s supply of energy, calming people down if they’re too excited, geeing people up when needed.
Take time to spot some of the little things and keep informed of what is happening in the business day to day.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

As we have scaled, self-knowledge and team knowledge has been key. You’ve got to be realistically humble about where your strengths and limitations are. Get the right team in to help drive the business forward. If you’re an entrepreneur it’s too easy to try and do everything yourself either to save money or due to over-confidence. Having the best people on your team doing all the things you’re not good at will lead to future successes. It’s all about having the right people, in the right seats with clear accountability and the ability to make changes.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We’ve tried to launch internationally a couple of times. We definitely underestimated the distraction and focus it needed to make it work. We would approach it differently.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I read a lot of books and when I’ve finished a book it then sits on my shelf gathering dust. I often recommend books to people. What would be great if a platform or library existed for business folk to share and trade books with each other. Perhaps a repository where we all send our books into for distribution or a digital platform that allows us to swap and share between members. This would save us all having to buy multiple copies of the same book (sorry publishers) and function as a way to get honest, recommendations. Maybe this exists already and I haven’t found it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

New golf shoes. I love golf but never invested in a proper pair of golf shoes until recently. Wow! What a difference it made. I could play back to back rounds in them.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Planner in Office 365 is great and allows me to integrate my to-do lists with other office applications so becomes more of a workflow application. I only recently started using it and it’s definitely making me better at managing tasks and prioritising.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. The best business book I have ever read and I feel is making me a better leader. It offers practical advice on how you can get the best out of people. It makes you realise all the little things you do which lead to underperformance by your team. Really powerful.

What is your favorite quote?

“A rising tide will lift all boats” When trying to grow your business, you need your team all working with one aim and together. You’ve got to avoid silos!

Key learnings:

• Ideas – write them down and then see if others are as enthusiastic about them. If not put them in the bin and move onto the next thing.
• Separate business and your personal life and make sure you have a personal life so that you can reward yourself for the businesses successes.
• Establishing an international business can be hugely distracting in both time, energy and focus.
• Read: Multipliers by Liz Wiseman which makes realise all the things you do that stop your people giving their all. If you want to become a radiator not a drain, read this. It works.