Delivering as much value as possible without expectations will greatly increase the lifetime value of your customers.
David Alexander is the founder of Mazepress, specialists in digital marketing and platform building with over a decade under his belt helping SME’s & individuals with technologies including web development, content marketing, social media, and SEO.
With an interest in design and after learning HTML and CSS in his teens David went on to study multimedia at university with a view to expanding his toolset.
Feeling discouraged by the economic situation and the jobs available after university, David started his first online business importing products from China and reselling them in Europe.
While this first attempt was ultimately a failure, it provided the experience necessary to go on to launch several much more successful ventures.
This lead to offering web development and consulting services to other entrepreneurs looking to increase their web presence and better leverage the internet to scale their business.
David has worked with companies from all over the globe from small start-ups and local businesses to government and charity projects.
Fast-forward 13 years Mazepress, as it’s now known, continues to help people bring their entrepreneurial visions to life using technology.
David splits his time between serving his clients and managing his own websites and eCommerce stores. This provides him the ideal work-life balance and the ability to travel and work remotely.
He has long been an advocate for cryptocurrencies, decentralization and blockchain technology and is also exploring the potential VR and AR has to offer to the world of digital marketing, remote working and education.
Where did the idea for Mazepress come from?
I have always been passionate about helping entrepreneurs and creatives with their online businesses. I launched Mazepress as a platform to help me reach more people by publishing and sharing more resources with a wider audience to promote my coaching services and courses.
At the time I was spending too much time behind the scenes doing deep work and not communicating and engaging.
Mazepress is a vessel for me to bridge that gap and better serve my audience than I could before.
I get a lot of enjoyment from helping others level up either personally or professionally and wanted to do more.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My daily activities can vary a lot from day to day but typically include a mixture of helping my students and clients, working on their projects or advising via skype, email or Asana, producing new content and working on marketing tasks.
To maximize productivity I use Asana to micro-manage all of my processes and tasks and also start by day by quickly prioritizing my emails and achieving inbox zero.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Every idea I work on starts with a mindmap, this allows me to build out the scope of my idea and get a holistic view before getting too involved in the finer details.
The aim is to be as agile and streamlined as possible, focussing on the priorities and building out the first phase of a prototype either to show a client or business partner before proceeding.
It’s important to do the discovery work that will help you find potential issues and work on iterating until completion.
Every project and idea is unique and the process can vary greatly but the planning stage remains fairly consistent.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Just one? I spend a lot of my time trend hunting to find new opportunities for websites and eCommerce stores.
Right now virtual reality is one trend that I am fascinated by. After spending 12 months getting quite involved I am starting to believe that VR will be the next paradigm in digital content consumption and will revolutionize the way we learn, work and entertain ourselves.
It may take a few more years to come to fruition but this new form of experiential media is more immersive than anything that’s come before it.
Much like smartphones and computers, one day in the not too distant future VR will become ubiquitous in our lives.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I prioritize building systems for everything.
Every process in my company is converted into easy to follow processes, usually in a tool like Asana which allows me to work through them myself or assign them to someone else.
This level of efficiency allows me to work quickly without missing anything.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop being a perfectionist, this paralysis by analysis is detrimental and will slow you down.
It’s far better to focus on completion and learn to iterate and learn from mistakes than to not complete something.
Perfectionism often creates unnecessary work.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’d rather work 80 hours week for myself than 40 hours a week for someone else.
Hey, I guess it’s a personality thing. I love my work, I doubt that would be the case if I was pursuing somebody else’s dream.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn effective time management with principles like the Pomodoro Technique and use it as an excuse to take exercise breaks.
Nothing helps clear the sluggishness and get you into productivity mode like increasing the heart-rate.
If you want to be more efficient and clear your mind, fresh air and exercise are one of the best productivity hacks you can use.
If like me, you work in an office setting and remain stationary for the most part it’s important to break up your day with short active breaks.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be unselfish. By delivering disproportionate amounts of value without expecting something in return you can turn your audience and clientele into an army of advertisements.
There’s no better validator that you are doing a good job than when your customers do your marketing for you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There was a time where my growth mindset had taken over at the expense of logic and I wasn’t able to turn down new opportunities.
I later learned there’s an art to qualifying customers and saying no.
Since I started using more strict criteria to qualify whether a client was right for me or not I was able to do better work more harmoniously and not run into issues.
My original mistake was agreeing to work with clients that had unrealistic expectations for their budgets which of course puts a lot of stress on both parties.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
All of my business ideas revolve around finding a trending niche or product and then building either an eCommerce store or authority website that has some way it can be monetized.
Hardly anything revolutionary, but if you have a talent for knowing what’s trending it can be a very profitable business model.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It might not sound exciting but I recently splashed out on an expensive keyboard for my desktop workstation. Some might think spending over $100 for a keyboard is insanity but I can’t stress how bad repetitive strain injury can get when you type over 10,000 words day-in, day-out.
With the Microsoft Surface Keyboard I can type faster and for longer without the aches and strains, I was suffering before.
Most laptop keyboards have small key travel which is fine, but it’s harder to find an affordable and high-quality desktop keyboard with similar features.
Since getting into standing desks, I have become obsessed with ergonomics and how it impacts productivity.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Asana is by far the most useful tool I use for productivity and I use it both in the web browser and the app to make sure I am on top of every task, project and process in my business.
Asana is a project management and enterprise resource planner that is flexible and user friendly for all types of organizations.
I use Asana as my calendar for everything I am working on, deadlines, meetings etc.
Using projects I can manage each task and process involved in each job and report on progress or collaborate with others.
This is the tool I use to build and document the business systems I rely on to complete my work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The book that had the biggest impact on me and my business was the E-Myth by Michael Gerber because it gives you access to some of the most insightful observations and advice on building a business from the ground up and ensuring scalability.
Gerber spent decades working with small businesses and collates his life experience in this book.
I have recommended the E-Myth to many people over the years and I have only ever heard great feedback.
What is your favorite quote?
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”
Broadly attributed to Churchill but has also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln though no solid proof of either exists.
– Build processes – This is the key to being efficient and scaling. When it comes to growing your business you eventually need to onboard new talent, this is much easier when you have processes everyone can follow.
– Learn to delegate – Entrepreneurs have to wear a lot of hats, but it’s critical that you learn when to delegate tasks to others when you need to free up time to work on your business or because someone else can deliver better results.
– Focus on productivity and efficiency before growth. Taking on too many clients or too much responsibility without optimizing your process can result in an organizational bottleneck.
– Delivering as much value as possible without expectations will greatly increase the lifetime value of your customers.
– Learn the importance of saying no! When a client or project isn’t a good fit, just say no. The ability to qualify your customers can save you a lot of time and headaches.
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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.