One year ago today, I launched Blue Cliff Media.
Well, that’s a lie. I launched Adworthy. We changed our name.
What a year it has been. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, that’s for sure! In this article I want to share a little bit of the journey as well as the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.
It all started on 22nd June 2015. I was sat on the bus, reading Dan Norris’ 7 Day Startup.
As I read the book, I started to get an overwhelming itch to launch a new business. I had a think about what to do and decided to launch a social media management company. You can read about the launching of the business here.
The business has pivoted a couple of times. After a few months of social media management, I had picked up a number of clients. But, I wasn’t satisfied. I fell into the trap of working IN the business, rather than ON the business. I decided to make my first pivot to try and stop that from happening. I decided to offer more high-level strategic services, as well as management and training.
And guess what, I struggled to sell. I effectively became another “social media expert”. A term that seems to be used by everyone these days!
I knew things had to change and around December 2015, I decided to focus in on Facebook advertising. We had managed to get some great results for clients over the previous 6 months and really enjoyed learning and implementing different Facebook campaigns.
Since then, the business has continued to grow. We’ve grown every month and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
I started the business from my bedroom and whilst that was really cool to begin with, I started to get cabin fever. Here’s a picture of the first ever Blue Cliff Media HQ. Pretty grand, eh? This entrepreneurial life is all about the fast cars!
I got sick of it after 5 months and was lucky enough to grab myself some office space in CodeBase, the UK’s largest Tech Incubator. It’s been an absolute game-changer for the business. We’re still there today.
We now work with companies all over the world. We still offer a wide range of digital marketing services, but with one main focus.
My Top 3 Lessons from first year in business
1. It’s better to focus and specialise on one thing
As you can see from what I’ve written above, I’ve moved the business from being specific (social media management) to non-specific (general social media) to being specific again (Facebook ads) and I can tell you 100% that going specific is the way to go.
You might feel like you’re leaving potential business on the table by doing so, I certainly felt like that. But in reality, you end up winning more business because people see you as the expert. You automatically position yourself as the go-to person. You start getting more referrals and people remember you. Not only has the agency grown as a result, I’ve been lucky enough to get booked for speaking engagements, talking about Facebook.
In fact, I get more enquiries from people looking for general social media/digital marketing advice now than I did when I was branded as a general social media/digital marketing person.
2. It’s okay to pivot
Taking a pivot in your business is totally fine. The majority of businesses end up doing something different to what they originally set out to do. In fact, I’d go as far to say, it’s important to pivot. It’s important for you to take your business in the same direction as the marketplace.
Agile businesses that keep their eye on where the market is going are the ones that are going to win. It’s down to me to offer my clients the very best service – the one that’s going to make them the biggest ROI. Whether that’s through Facebook advertising or another form of social media marketing, it’s down to me to educate and help them with that.
3. Be patient
If I could tell myself one thing last year, it would be to be patient. When I first launched the business I sometimes found myself being crippled by how slow things were going (slow by my expectations – things were actually moving pretty fast). I would look around me and see people that had been in business for years and felt like I had to be doing the same.
Around Christmas time, it hit me that I just needed to be patient. I was 21 at the time, the business was 6 months old and I had only lived in Edinburgh for 1.5 years. Growing a business takes time! We’ve taken on no investment or funding. Everything has been totally organic. The first invoice I ever sent out was for £60. And that’s all I made in the first month!
It’s been quite a sharp period of growth and I’ve loved every single minute of it. Many ups and downs, including personal life and business life, but hey, that’s what running a business is all about, isn’t it?
I hope this wee article has shown an insight into what a business looks like in year one. Let me know how your first year in business was. How did it compare? I’d love to know.