Always go back to reprioritizing the projects that have the biggest impact. I think many of us can get stuck doing minutiae for hours, and then eventually those big important projects that will actually move the needle get pushed off for months.

Joe Robison is the owner and chief consultant of Green Flag Digital, an SEO and content marketing consultancy.

He loves combining design, UX, content strategy, and SEO into one beautiful mixture for client success. He’s constantly trying out new cities and currently lives in Birmingham, AL.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I started doing some independent SEO consulting on the side while working full-time, and had been dreaming of making the switch over when the time was right.
Eventually I had too much work on the side and was able to leave my full-time job and start Green Flag Digital properly. I even converted my full-time job at a travel company named Bucket List Events to become a client!

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

I’m constantly seeking the perfect rhythm for the day to be completely in the zone and productive. I’ve gotten it down to a pretty good system recently that I’ve been happy with.

As many other leaders recommend over and over, I’ve started working out as the first thing in the morning. I’ll do a bit of cardio, either an outdoors run or on the rowing machine, and then a short weight routine.

I’ll get my coffee going, and ideally do a 10-minute meditation through Headspace.

I’ll then plan out my day in blocks, trying to give each project as much time as possible. When I switch between tasks every few minutes, my productivity plummets so I try to focus on only one thing at a time, although it’s been challenging.

Recently on warm days, I’ve been going to the pool mid-day to get some Vitamin D and clear the mind. Then I’ll go back to work and finish up the day.

Throughout the day I’ll keep a running list of what I want to accomplish. Anything I couldn’t get to I’ll bump to the next day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s a slow process. I am constantly taking notes and recording ideas as they come up throughout my work. I’ll then reference past ones when the time is right or I think of a similar concept.

The ideas that I can’t shake and keep bubbling to the surface are the ones that end up acting on. I then build a strategy based the revenue potential of the idea, what the competition looks like, and where I have the ability to start.

It can be a very strategic process, which is good, but sometimes it’s too slow when I should be taking more action faster. It’s hard to find that balance.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Since I spend 80% of my time thinking about SEO, I’ll focus on a trend there. I like that as Google’s algorithm evolves, it’s truly getting to the point where it can understand good UX and great content on pages. It’s getting closer and closer to how humans view pages.

We shouldn’t give Google too much credit yet – there are plenty of traditional SEO best practices that have existed for 15 years – but it’s getting pretty good.

This excites me because it means that as practitioners we can wholeheartedly recommend what is both good for the user and good for search engines. Historically, they have been separated by a mile.

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

I’m always, always trying to automate things when I can, mainly through spreadsheet formulas. In theory, all of an SEO’s monthly tasks could be handled by one formula that would take years and years to write.

Until then though, I’m seeking on systemizing tasks and creating spreadsheet templates with built-in best practices that use advance formulas such as Google’s query function.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Always go back to reprioritizing the projects that have the biggest impact. I think many of us can get stuck doing minutiae for hours, and then eventually those big important projects that will actually move the needle get pushed off for months.

For example, early in my SEO career I spent weeks analyzing crawl errors that just weren’t important, but the team thought they might be. Instead I should have been creating amazing new content and getting great links.

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

All of our jobs will never be replaced by AI. Never. We’ll invent new ones, or just more and more people will move into purely creative fields that AI can never do. For example, imagine 99% of jobs can be solved by AI one day. We’ll then 99% of people will be artists and writers, which doesn’t sound so bad.

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

Read constantly. I have 150 books on my bookshelf, which is probably too many, but I’m naturally drawn to reading business books constantly, and I believe it’s helped a lot.

I heard the average CEO reads 60 books a year.

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

This is one thing that seems so obvious, but a lot of people just don’t do it. If you’re a service provider, create a service page on your site for each distinct service you provide.

For example, I created a page for my website relaunch services.

It’s so niche, there’s like less than 50 searches a month for it. But if someone is searching that deep, they really need it. There’s not a lot of competition there because the larger agencies just put up general pages.

So if you have done any distinct service at least three times, chances are there’s 100 other people in the world that need you to do that for them this month.

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

Not paying attention to the other things a true entrepreneur should be doing. I’m a marketer, so I spend most of my time focusing on that aspect. But as a business owner, I need to grow the business and learn the skills and roles that every business needs. Those include finance/accounting, sales, operations, HR, etc.

I spent way too long avoiding getting a grip on my accounting, budgeting, and forecasting because I hated it. Now that’s catching up with me, but I’ve started making some changes that have worked wonders.

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

CFO as a service for solopreneurs. Right now, it’s super easy to go hire accountants, bookkeepers, social media managers, developers, etc. But there’s no obvious way to go hire a business advisor.

For example, who can tell me that my business needs to have a core capital target of two months of revenue? Or that my salary as an owner should be set to the market and I shouldn’t be taking distributions out of my business until certain thresholds are hit?

My CPA never told me and didn’t offer anything like that. As a small business owner, I have to go read a bunch of books to get that kind of advice (see recommended book below), and it may take years to piece it all together.
Someone who can get this going for a flat monthly fee, like Bench.co but for CFOs, will do well.

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

I hired a bookkeeper for $99 a month and she’s been a godsend. I love business, but hate accounting and bookkeeping (as many do). I had put off the books for over a year and finally hired someone to take it over. The peace of mind is worth the $99 a month alone! Definitely one of those easy to outsource tasks that’s also highly valuable to your business.

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

I’ve been using Process Street more and more, and I really like their flow and system. It centers around the idea of checklists as the way to construct SOP (standard operating procedure) docs. It’s different from Asana or a Google Sheet because it allows you to embed other media like videos and image, expand and collapse sections, and run each checklist individually with a timestamp. It makes it more of a thing you execute on, rather than just something you reference.

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

Straight Talk, Simple Numbers, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree has been life changing. Greg is a CPA, but has evolved into much more than that, now he is more of a business operations, structure, finance expert. All the financial and accounting questions I’ve had for 5+ years have been answered in this book
.
There’s so much unclear information on accounting and finances for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, and the information is either in thin blog posts or dense textbooks. This book gets to the heart of what matters and lays it out so clearly. It’s truly beautiful.

I recommend everyone buy it this second if you run your business, unless you’re already super profitable and making $100 million+ a year. He covers it all. You can get a feel for his content through some of his great YouTube videos as well.

What is your favorite quote?

” ‘ASTONISH ME!’

Bear these words in mind, and whatever you do will be creative.”

-Art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch

Key learnings:

• Automate and delegate as much as you can, learn and master advanced spreadsheet formulas – everyone needs it
• Make sure as a business owner you’ve got all the roles covered, even the ones you don’t want to do
• Get your bookkeeping, accounting, and finances in order as soon as possible, before it’s too late
• Just go buy Simple Numbers – probably the best small business owner book ever

Connect:

https://www.greenflagdigital.com
https://twitter.com/josephrobison
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joerobison

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