Focus on a specific niche. By doing so, your product or service will have a better chance of standing out.
Matthew Ross graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business finance from San Diego State University. After graduating, he worked as an investment banking analyst for the global finance firm Duff & Phelps for three years. He is now the co-owner and COO of RIZKNOWS and The Slumber Yard, which operate multiple internet properties, including popular websites, YouTube channels and a mobile application.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
My business partner and I were extremely interested in wearable technology so decided to start a YouTube channel that would review and explain in detail the features and applications that GPS watches and fitness trackers offered consumers. The channel started to grow and we slowly learned how to make money online. We then applied what we learned from growing the original channel to launching new websites and YouTube channels.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
During the week, I work long hours. Id’s say on average I work 14-15 hour days. I usually end up leaving the office around 7-7:30 during the week. Given the days are long, I try to take tiny breaks every few hours to let my mind rest. Sometimes I just take a walk down to the local coffee shop or sometimes I ‘ll grab one of my employees and play a quick game of ping pong.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My business partner and I are constantly thinking of new ideas and strategies to grow the business. When we think we’ve stumbled upon a new, profitable idea, we typically take a few days to sleep on it. We don’t like to act prematurely. If the idea still makes sense after a few days, then we’ll do a deeper dive into its viability. We conduct industry research and start making calls to relevant connections to get a better idea of competition and potential monetary impact. If the idea sill makes sense after the initial analysis, we’ll sit down as a team and discuss the exact steps required to implement.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend of traditional brick and mortar industries once thought to be sheltered from e-commerce experiencing cracks in the armor. For example, most people thought the mattress industry would never be affected by e-commerce since most consumers want/need to try beds before purchasing. Well, over the past few years, direct-to-consumer online mattress companies have taken considerable market share away from traditional retailers like Mattress Firm.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m a big morning person and I believe that helps me be more productive during the day. I typically wake up around 5am and work a for a few hours. I like to catch-up on emails and plan out work for my employees to ensure we’re on the same page. That way I’m ready to hit the ground running once I actually get into the office around 9am.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self to focus on a specific niche or category and become an expert in it. I think sometimes entrepreneurs get too caught up in capturing the entire market in which they operate. I’ve found that it’s often more lucrative to focus on a specific sub-segment or niche of a larger industry.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That the college you attended doesn’t matter whatsoever after you gain two years of work experience (with a few exceptions of course…Stanford, Havard, MIT, etc).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do whatever you can to improve your sleep. It’s so important. If you can improve your sleep quality, it will go a long way to making you more productive during the day. That means you might need to invest in a new pillow, mattress or white noise machine, for example.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We recently hired a SEO consultant and it has completely changed how we approach publishing new content. My business partner and I have finance background so when we got into this business, we really didn’t know what was right from wrong in terms of SEO. So far, this consultant has helped us dramatically improve our rankings for key content.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the past, I’ve struggled with human resource management. The problem I ran into is that I was so focused on the growth of the company that I didn’t take the time to properly vet and interview candidates. I just wanted to hire as quickly as possible and plug them in to keep the machine moving. We ended up having serious issues with certain employees but now I take hiring much more seriously and spend a good amount of time vetting candidates, calling their references and exploring their backgrounds to determine whether they’d be a good fit.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there is room in the market for a branded chain of adult day care centers. With the baby boomer generation getting older, demand for these services is going to continue to increase. Right now, it just seems like most adult day care centers are one-off mom and pop type shops. By stringing a few together, there could be economies of scale in terms of cost savings and brand awareness.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased a smart thermostat for my condo. It’s awesome. I love being able to turn on the heat before I even arrive.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We’ve used several different tools over the last several years but by far the most useful (and I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard the name) is Ahrefs. Not only is it a great tool for keyword research but it’s also extremely helpful in tracking backlinks, monitoring search positions for articles/posts and analyzing competitors posts to your own.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One book that I would highly recommend young adults read is ‘Give and Take’ by Adam Grant. This book had a significant impact on me during my first job at an investment bank.
In short, Mr. Grant (who is a professor at Wharton Business School) asserts that hard work, passion and effort in the business world are actually not as important as you think. Instead, he claims that selflessness, giving and emotional intelligence are really the building blocks to a successful career. This argument really hit home for me since the investment banking world is so predicated on grinding and being ruthless.
What is your favorite quote?
“See the forest through the trees”. Essentially, see the big picture instead of focusing on inconsequential details.
- Take sleep seriously. A good night of sleep will do wonders for a busy entrepreneur in terms of productivity.
- Focus on a specific niche. By doing so, your product or service will have a better chance of standing out
- Take hiring very seriously, even if it’s for a lower level position. One bad apple can have a negative effect on the entire team morale.