Joshua Daniels is the owner & managing director of Go Amplify. In this interview with The Industry Leaders, they share their top advice for business professionals, namely the three things they wish they'd known when starting out.
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
After completing a Level 3 BTEC National Diploma for IT, I began working at a local fashion store in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
My responsibilities included maintaining the website, uploading products, designing banners, and copywriting. Eventually, I became an e-commerce manager at a designer furniture store, despite being the sole member of the e-commerce department.
We engaged an SEO agency during this time, but our partnership failed to yield results after nine months. This prompted me to delve into SEO independently, regularly watching YouTube videos and staying updated on search trends.
We ultimately parted ways with the SEO agency, and I applied my knowledge to the furniture brand. Within a few months, we ranked on the first page of Google. Simultaneously, I began offering my services to local trade businesses through cold calling and acquired two clients on a £400 monthly retainer.
Shortly after that, the director of Airbrand—a web development firm that had built the furniture brand's website—approached me with an incredible opportunity to establish my own business, serving several of his clients with paid and organic marketing. I jumped at the chance, left my full-time position, and founded my agency. The rest is history.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
One individual who has been instrumental in my journey from the beginning to where I am now is Paul Inman. He allowed me to establish my own business and trusted me with the responsibility of servicing his clients.
Over the years, my relationship with Paul has evolved into a strong friendship, and his invaluable guidance and mentorship have played a significant role in my personal and professional growth.
Paul's support and belief in my abilities have genuinely made a lasting impact on my success.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
In the early days of my business journey, I received a piece of advice from Paul that has proven invaluable to this day.
He shared the quote, "Will it make the boat go faster?" as a guiding principle for planning tasks. This concept has been instrumental in helping me prioritise tasks based on their return on investment (ROI) and impact on the business.
With overwhelming responsibilities and challenges in running a business, staying focused and prioritising activities according to their potential for driving success is crucial.
By continually asking myself, "Will it make the boat go faster?" I have maintained clarity and made more effective decisions throughout my business journey.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
Throughout my business journey, I have learned numerous lessons on leadership; however, one stands out as particularly crucial: ensuring effective communication and fostering team development.
By providing opportunities for learning, training, and career advancement, I invest in the success of my team members. This empowers them to contribute positively to our brands' growth and success. A strong emphasis on communication and personal development benefits individual employees and bolsters the company's long-term success.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
Focus on a niche: I tried to focus on too many services aimed at a broad market in the early stages of our business. This led to an inability to focus, and our service delivery suffered because I was burnt out. Over the last few years, we have repositioned Go Amplify as a specialist search marketing agency for e-commerce brands. We have experienced substantial growth YoY since this radical change, with a 54% increase in revenue within the last 12-months.
Importance of scalability: As our client base grew, we needed to scale our agency to meet the increasing demand. This required having efficient systems, processes, and tools in place and the ability to train and manage our growing team. For the first few years, I had yet to learn what SOPs were (standard operating procedures). They are critical for scalability as they provide the foundations for staff to execute tasks without relying on my time.
The importance of setting clear expectations with clients: Before starting my SEO agency, I wish I had known how crucial it is to set realistic expectations with clients regarding the time it takes to see results. SEO is a long-term investment, and it's essential to communicate this to clients upfront. By managing expectations, I could have reduced the chances of client dissatisfaction and built stronger, long-lasting relationships.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
Based on my experience, one of the most effective ways to build a strong network of mentors and advisors for guiding business endeavours is to connect with former agency owners who have successfully scaled and exited their businesses.
Many of these individuals are now retired or concentrating on other ventures, making them more inclined to share their experiences, challenges, and successes.
Engaging with these seasoned professionals enabled me to gain invaluable insights, view situations from different perspectives, and learn to avoid potential pitfalls. This approach has significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth, equipping me with the knowledge and support necessary to navigate the business's complexities.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
In my previous role, I needed more leadership and better communication, which left me feeling isolated in my efforts to grow the brand.
Recognising my skillset and entrepreneurial mindset, coupled with the high demand for my services, I decided to venture into self-employment.
During the initial years, business growth was slow. Still, after consulting with peers, I chose to pivot by narrowing down our target audience to e-commerce brands on Shopify with a minimum turnover of 5 million or more.
Additionally, we streamlined our offerings by reducing our services by 50% to focus on three core areas: SEO, Digital PR, and PPC advertising.
This strategic shift to search marketing for e-commerce allowed us to concentrate on our strengths, develop specialised processes and training, and optimise our business operations to accelerate growth.
I created a more focused and successful business model by recognising the need for a pivot and carefully considering the appropriate adjustments.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
When confronted with obstacles, I always remind myself of the underlying purpose and objectives that inspired me to embark on my entrepreneurial journey.
Reconnecting with my goals and vision enables me to maintain motivation and drive. In addition to self-reflection, I actively seek support from my network, reaching out to peers, mentors, and friends for advice and encouragement during troubling times.
Additionally, I have recently collaborated with a mindset coach, which has proven to be a transformative experience. This partnership has allowed me to focus on self-care, meditation, work-life balance, and overcoming limiting beliefs, ultimately fostering a more productive daily routine.
Addressing my mindset and ADHD through the guidance of a mindset coach has been a crucial step in my personal and professional growth. While I have previously worked with business coaches, their impact was limited due to the root of my challenges being intrinsically linked to mindset and personal factors.
This newfound focus on mindset has allowed me to navigate the complexities of running a business with greater resilience and determination.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
If I were to start my journey from scratch, one significant change I would make would be to prioritise the development of my personal brand from the very beginning.
Establishing trust with a target audience is vital to success, and personal branding plays a crucial role in fostering that trust. Rather than merely sharing content through a company page, I would leverage platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to create and share content from my personal account.
This approach allows for more authentic connections with potential clients and partners, as people are more inclined to trust and engage with individuals rather than faceless corporations. By investing in my personal brand early on, I would have been better positioned to cultivate meaningful relationships and foster long-term success in my career or business endeavours.