Jason started Business Done Now in January 2010 with the idea of becoming the one-stop shop for all small business owners when looking for products and content to improve the way their business works. Jason came up with the idea when looking to start a business back in college. He was tired of visiting multiple websites to consume content, finding the right products that could help a business and looking for a small business marketing expert or educator that was available and willing to answer questions in any format — whether by phone, e-mail or social media. He really wanted to focus on the small business owner because they were the ones willing to adapt to changes in business faster then some of those big brands. He figured small business owners are very good at figuring out what trends are here to stay and then leveraging them to grow their business. The best thing about small businesses, he thought, is that they have the ability to act now and don’t have to go through board members and investors to get approval.
Jason’s passion for small business started very young. He always knew he wanted to be entrepreneur. Growing up around his parents, who were small business owners and leaders in the agri-business industry, he understood early on what it takes to make a successful business and how to survive through the hard times. Besides the hands-on experience of working as the vice president of his parent’s small business, Jason loves teaching and holds a degree in marketing and business education. His other experience ranges from financial services to retail to the tech industry, where in the past he has worked with Synap Software and Intuit. All of this has led to his creation of Business Done Now.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on capturing more of the local scene in Denver, Colo., and leveraging the power of being local. The best thing to do as a small business is to be a part of the local community. I am looking to move from a mostly online presence to moving more offline. I would like to start writing for the local business journal, and I hope to one day be featured on a local television network here in Denver. I always want to hear other business owner’s stories and share them with others in the Denver area, plus give some marketing advice and share new ideas to grow businesses and improve the way they work. I also am looking to do seminars in the Denver area educating small business owners on how to create an online presence, which is a must, as everything is moving online. I’m currently writing an e-book for my followers on the same topic of creating an online presence for your business. Sometimes you have to go out there and create your own, and that’s what I’m all about.
3 Trends that excite you?
Online Video – Again, the power to create your own. For example, I want to be on a local television network in Denver, but that is hard to do. So, I started a Web show online as a way to showcase how I am in front of the camera, so when I pitch the idea of being on their network, I can say here is my evidence in the views, retweets, comments, etc., which are totally transferable to offline media. I see something like Ustream becoming more popular than YouTube in the future. It’s possible. But doing live video, as opposed to video you can record and edit, is still uncomfortable for people. Once that is over and we know how to produce good live TV online, it will take off.
Virtual Currency — Facebook is such a powerhouse in the online world, and you can’t ignore what they did when they implemented their version of virtual currency. It got me wondering how many more businesses can do something similar. Look at how istockphoto.com does it. You pay something like $15 for 12 credits that you can spend on videos and pictures. I think if a company offers a product that is low cost and is something that you can buy over and over again you need to look at implementing virtual currency, because once a customer buys those credits they need to spend them there, making it more likely that they will come back and use their credit to buy from you. This creates a habit for customers, and once that is formed, it’s hard to break. So, I believe you will see many knick-knack Web stores pop-up using virtual currency. Even if you produce online seminars, have a virtual currency system in place so the customer makes the long term investment in your service and must spend the credits on your website on more seminars. Creating customer retention … What could be better?
Being the Face of Your Business Online — This is something that I talk about all the time, and we are seeing more businesses take advantage of this approach. We use this approach all the time offline. If you think about it, who do we love to buy from? It’s the people that we know and trust in our local area, because they don’t treat us like a number and they actually know something about us and we know them. Now we can take these same small town rules and apply them online through videos, pictures and social media.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Basically through trial and error. I think looking at facts are good to a point, but then you need to take the next step and do some testing. I think too many people just look at data and analyze situations, and sometimes you just need to calculate the risk and jump in — hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I always have been one to listen to my gut feeling over the facts. If you look at the business trends right now, crazy ideas are taking off more then ever and paying off big for some. Take, for example, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. People thought his business plan was crazy, saying it would never work, and look at the company today. Also, with the trial and error process there is a fine line between smart and dumb, so if the data is against you, realize what you could lose. I wouldn’t make a quick risky decision without a back-up plan, and I wouldn’t risk all I had because then it is really hard to make a comeback.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
I feel embarrassed to admit this, but one of the biggest mistakes I made was not focusing enough on the design of my website. The one I have now I love and has increased my business ten times compared to before. People judge you by your website, and it’s the first impression they get of you. I made the mistake of going with a do-it-yourself Web service. The bad part about this was I thought it was the greatest website in the world. The reason I went this route was so I would have time to focus on helping other small businesses and produce good content. Before I had tried to create a website myself through Dreamweaver using HTML/CSS, and a lot of it went over my head because I am just your basic coder. My sister, who is a graphic designer, suggested I use the content management system WordPress to create a weblog with a custom theme, and the rest was history. I needed to listen to others more on this subject to get over the mistake of a bad website.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
The book that I live by is Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!” It is one of the things that has inspired me to start Business Done Now. All throughout the book Gary talks about building a business around your passion and how that has now become reality. We can still work our 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and then come home, spend time with the family and go to work building our business online until 2 a.m. We no longer have the same restrictions that our grandparents and parents had when looking to start a business. You have the freedom to build online with little or no cost to get started, and that is a powerful thing.
Disqus is an online comment tool that I really like and one that many websites have integrated as their comment system for their blog. It is the social network for comments. It’s like a scorecard of networking. With Disqus people can see the number of comments you have made, the number of likes you have given, the link to your blog, and everyone can also see the most popular blogs that you commented on. It’s a fun thing to be part of, and it’s more engaging than the traditional standard comment tool we see.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We all know that Google is the No. 1 search engine in the world, but lately you are seeing smaller search engines pop up that are doing things that Google isn’t, and they are becoming well known for that. One I like is duckduckgo.com. So here is my business idea: Create a search engine based on uploading pictures to find what you are looking for. Whether that’s to consume content or to buy something. I know some are thinking it’s a crazy idea and it’s complicated, but I came up with this idea when my girlfriend lost one of her hub caps to her car, and I thought how in the world am I going to find one that matches the other three. I don’t want to drive around looking for one, and it would be easier if Google had a feature where I could just take a picture of one of the other hub caps and upload it to search by pictures instead of trying to describe it and find it by text.
If you are looking to infuse your business and personal brand online, what approach should we take when using video, pictures and social media?
The best thing that you can do is be real and authentic. If you’re living your brand you cannot be fake, because it will come across in your videos, pictures and social media platforms. Then make sure to listen and respond to those who have interest in what you do.
What do you do in your free time outside of Business Done Now?
I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I live right next to Coors Park, so I love to taking in a Rockies game whenever I can!
Website – BusinessDoneNow.com
E-mail – [email protected]
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.