Instead of focusing on developing a product, focus on solving a problem. If you focus on solving a problem that you or someone else has, the product will sell itself. Start by listing everything from little annoyances to things that seriously both you on a daily/weekly basis.
Derek Stroh has been entrepreneurial from a very young age. In one of his first entrepreneurial ventures, he hired his brother to go knock on his neighbour’s doors to come to watch his ‘bike show’… This consisted of Derek jumping his bike over his brother.
Today, Derek is the Founder of Horizons Digital Marketing, a digital marketing agency that helps e-commerce stores grow and scale using the power of Facebook advertising.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I’ve always been attracted to marketing, it just took me a number of years to realize it. Having majored in business in university, I had a decent exposure to a variety of different business courses, I just always assumed (falsely) marketing wouldn’t resonate with me. When I graduated university, I entered directly into wealth management, thinking that was the right path for me. What I realized, after working in that field for a number of years, is that the part that really excited me about my job were the opportunities I had to work on marketing projects with the teams I was with.
While I was working in wealth management, I recognized an opportunity emerging in social media management and tried to learn as much as I could before landing my first client. Before long, I was not financially dependent on my full-time job and decided to take the leap of faith in starting my own company. After some early success with Facebook Ads, I devoted myself to learning all the ins and outs and becoming the best marketer I could be, that’s where it all started.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’ve tried a lot of different routines to see what works the best, but what I find works the best for me is getting up at 5am and focusing on me for the first 1 hour or so of the day. I start by meditating, writing 10 things I am grateful for and then reviewing my long-term goals as well as my goals for the day. I find if I’m able to focus on myself and take some time to figure out what I want to achieve in the day, the rest of my day falls into place much more easily.
How do you bring ideas to life?
With my business, the creative aspect is the part that excites me the most. Something I do with my personal life, my business as well as with my clients, is take the time to reflect and map out goals & ideas. I find that when I take the time to map out my ideas, I often find a way to bring my ideas to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited about the trend of online businesses popping up. The barriers to entry in many industries are falling. For so many people, not having to invest in a brick and mortar store means they can pursue their dreams in producing, developing and selling a product.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
For a long time I’d sit around and plan plan plan… I’d have a strategy for my strategy and a plan for my plan. What I noticed though is that I was never actually taking the action require to actually move the needle. I’m a huge believer in massive imperfect action. I think it’s important, especially as an entrepreneur, to take action, learn quickly from the result that action created and move on to the next action. My biggest times of growth have always stemmed from the times I took the most imperfect actions.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t care so much about what people think (especially about you), care about people.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Nutella isn’t the best thing ever.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Being self-aware. The times I’ve had the most growth (both personally and in my business) are the times that I have been the most real with myself, even if the truth sucks to hear.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Abundance mindset. The first month I shifted my mindset from ‘I need more clients’ to ‘there are plenty of potential clients out there, who can I be 100% sure I can serve to the best of my abilities’ was my biggest month in business. Even though at the time there was a lot of financial stress, approaching each situation with an abundance mindset allowed me to attract more abundance and more clients into my life.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I invested about $20,000 into a program to level up my business that didn’t pan out like I expected. It had nothing to do with the program, and everything to do with me… After a lot of time and reflection, I realized it was an issue with my mindset at the time. I didn’t have the right mindset to grow or achieve the levels of success I wanted to achieve. After this course, I spent the next year focusing heavily on my mindset, this focus has lead me to landing clients that were 5X a large as my previous clients and has also allowed me to improve the level of service I was delivering to my clients.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Better yet, here’s how to develop your own ideas… Instead of focusing on developing a product, focus on solving a problem. If you focus on solving a problem that you or someone else has, the product will sell itself. Start by listing everything from little annoyances to things that seriously both you on a daily/weekly basis.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was on drinks with some friends. It might seem like a simple thing, but there was a point in my life that I was very financially stressed and even just going out for dinner or buying drinks for friends would lead to a great deal of stress. Being able to do that, without stressing out is an amazing feeling.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Clickfunnels has helped significantly when I am looking to build funnels and landing pages for my own business. The interface is easy to understand, easy to manipulate and aesthetically pleasing. It saves me time that I would be otherwise spending on trying to build out funnels/pages on other software.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to win friends and influence people. One of the best books I have ever read. I love this book because it is applicable to all areas of life, not just business. If you want to improve your relationships in any area of your life, I would highly recommend this book!
What is your favorite quote?
‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’ – John Lennon
- Caring about people doesn’t mean you have to take everything they say to heart.
- Fail hard, fail fast, fail often
- Self-awareness is fundamental to success
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.