Discover your “why.” Everyone has a purpose and a reason why they started their business. Once you focus on this, your efforts will be more enjoyable and fulfilling.
As sole owner of Local SEO Search, Inc., John’s mission is to help local business owners improve their website’s presence on search engine result pages (like Google) so they can dominate their industry. After starting in Internet marketing over a decade ago, he guided over 5,000 local business owners with online digital sales and various corporate enterprises. Combining his business acumen with an innate understanding of the local business landscape, John customizes SEO campaigns for each Local SEO Search client by acknowledging their different needs. An Administrative and Commercial Studies graduate of the University of Western Ontario and proud father to his son, John gives back to the community by funding a yearly program that provides backpacks stocked with supplies to deserving young students, and is a passionate mentor to new entrepreneurs. He is also an avid Toronto Raptors fan and an active real estate investor.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Back in 2003, I worked for a company that was competing with Yellow Pages and Google on Local Search. They created the “Red Pages:” the first printed directory of business websites delivered to home owners in Toronto. The concept was great and I became passionate about local business advertising and marketing. I also worked for the Yellow Pages (another Toronto local printed directory) for five years. I came to understand clients’ struggles with print and their digital service offerings. I then realized the real opportunity today is to be found on Google through local searches. Local SEO Search connects ready-to-buy customers with local business owners on Google.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’ve established a regular routine. My typical day starts with reading a book for 30-60 minutes, then reading industry news for an hour. I then eat breakfast and take my son to “school” (he is a toddler in daycare). Next, I review the day’s tasks and calendar events (e.g. meetings) and prioritize my responsibilities. I typically have a morning call with my senior leadership team to round up key targets on projects and pending client activities. Later, I go through reports and audits, check emails and respond to client inquiries. I take some time to determine which efforts are most urgent for the day, week, and month. Evenings are downtime: I focus on family first and no work disruptions until my son goes to bed. Finally, I do some additional reading or finish any time-sensitive tasks and respond to more emails.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I promote collaborative efforts with constructive criticism from our team’s leadership. Every day a member of our team or I come up with new ideas. Each initiative requires planning and a strict deadline. We go through a rigorous SWAT analysis for each new idea and determine if the idea can grow into an active project for the company. It all boils down to resources, time and potential impact.
What’s one trend that excites you?
SEO agencies must be nimble and pivot quickly, especially since Google has multiple, daily algorithm updates on their search engine. To be successful in the world of Search, you must follow best practices and be fully engaged and monitor client sites and results every day. Two trends I am following are voice search and machine learning. When I spot a new trend or idea, I’m so excited I often lose sleep doing additional research and reading.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My most enjoyable “habit” is giving back to the community. In the past year I have had the honour to mentor new entrepreneurs in the Greater Toronto Area. By hearing what these new entrepreneurs are thinking, understanding their thought process, learning which software/apps/media they use, grasping how they structure daily tasks, and discovering their consumer behaviour, I am able to translate that information to improve processes for my own business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Build your desire to achieve something greater than mere monetary success. Discover your “Why,” and once you have a purpose, determine how to reach your destination. You can affect large numbers of people by giving back knowledge and time, which creates a rewarding personal outcome.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Everyone is born as a salesperson. We negotiate from birth to adulthood and the art of sales is an ongoing, evolving process. It can be mastered if you focus on learning the nuances of human interactions. The more time you spend studying human behaviour the better salesperson you will be. Many people avoid being called a “salesperson,” but we are all salespeople in some form.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Have a balanced lifestyle. Otherwise, you will burn out. Make sure when you leave work, you are completely logged off. This applies to both evenings and weekends. Recharge yourself daily by sleeping, exercising, socializing, spending time with your spouse and children, having hobbies, travelling. Being an entrepreneur can be a constant grind; it’s important to take time for personal happiness and well-being.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’ve hired a strong team so I can have a balanced life and focus on my strengths. Once I hired a VP of sales, it freed up my time to work on new initiatives such as creating a podcast and video series, writing a book, sponsoring local events, and devoting more time to mentorship. Freedom from prospecting, following up, generating leads — and the entire sales process — enables me to better manage my business and expand my outreach.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I once believed I had to take everything on myself worked 16-18 hour days. After doing this for three years, I hired new staff members to form a team. This allowed me to leverage my time and focus on scaling and growing the company with new strategies and ideas. I now have a more balanced life and am able to enjoy time with my family, friends, travel, eating healthy meals, enjoying hobbies, and returning to the gym.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is an entire industry that can be tapped into by helping companies generate sales via live events. Many business owners would love to expand their reach/market but don’t have the time or resources to hold such events. If you become an expert at hosting events for business owners there is a real a demand for that service.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased a podcast microphone for $100. With that one purchase, I started a journey of podcasting weekly content for my “Local SEO Today” show. The more content you are able to publish and amplify to the world, the more likelihood you will build an audience.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We use Active Collab to properly manage all our active client campaigns. We previously tried many tools but this software allows us to properly manage staff activities and set allotted times for each task. We’re better able to assess the productivity and efficiency of each staff member.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk – gives entrepreneurs more knowledge and insight on what it takes to become successful in today’s market. It really helps solidify an entrepreneur’s ability to live life on your terms.
What is your favorite quote?
“Winners are not afraid of losing, but losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
Entrepreneurs must understand that failure is a part of the process of learning. Success comes to people willing to take risks and who never give up when they fail.
- Discover your “why.” Everyone has a purpose and a reason why they started their business. Once you focus on this, your efforts will be more enjoyable and fulfilling.
- Give back when you can. Mentoring other entrepreneurs has helped me grow as a business owner. I get to give back and it keeps me on the cusp of new trends.
- Have work-life balance. You do not have to do everything yourself. Hire a strong team. Prioritize evenings and weekends for yourselves. This allows you to recharge so you don’t burn out and can continue with your success.
- Branch out into events and new media. Find a small amount of time and record podcasts, YouTube videos or even host events for other business owners. This is a great way to get your message out and network with like-minded individuals.