Rob Barratt is the Co-founder of The Industry Leaders (this very website!) and is on a mission to help new entrepreneurs and solopreneurs get the attention their work needs, without wasting thousands of dollars on ads. Rob tells us about how he got here and why he's doing this interview with his own website!
First off - why are you doing this interview?
Well, yes, it's normally me on the other side of this, asking questions to everyone from industry influencers, blue-chip business leaders and first-time entrepreneurs. I've done interviews for other media outlets and podcasts before, but it's a new one getting interviewed by our subscribers!
I've created, run, and sold businesses and I know how hard it is for business owners to drum up attention around their business.
I constantly bang the drum on LinkedIn about being visible and making noise about your business everywhere you can. It's vital because, without this noise, customers who might be interested in buying from you simply won't find you. So they'll go elsewhere; to the entrepreneur who is drawing attention to their expertise and products.
That's why, when I Googled myself a week ago and found a British comedian above me on page 1, I knew I needed to do something. So I set myself a public target of 6-months (and a secret one of 3) to reach the top 3 spots on page 1 when you Google Rob Barratt.
I asked subscribers to our email what they'd like to know about me and what you're reading is the result.
Can you give us a quick rundown of how you got to this point?
Sure. I'd never run an online business before. So when I finally branched out to create one, I spent thousands of dollars advertising online with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. None of it brought me sales.
I didn't want to fail and go back to my old corporate job, but it was so much harder to get my business off the ground than I thought it would be. I lost confidence in my ability to be successful.
It didn't help that I was constantly seeing success stories on LinkedIn and hearing podcasts about founders who had gone from zero to thousands of customers seemingly instantly.
Then I got invited to do an interview for an online magazine.
I was blown away by the response I got to posting a link to my interview on my social channels. People responded in a way they hadn't to my other online posts. They were genuinely interested in my journey and what I was doing now.
I knew I could do the same for other small business owners.
So I learned as much as I could about digital marketing on a budget and, at the same time, I was expanding my network by interviewing business leaders in my niche.
I never looked back. I went from struggling to get anyone to take notice of me, to speaking to some of the most influential people in business and helping other entrepreneurs get their businesses in front of people who matter.
You mentioned your aim to appear in all of the first 3 links for a Google search of your name. What's the image you want to project that differentiates you from the other Rob Barratt’s?
That's a great question!
Well, I like to think I can make people laugh, though probably not as well as the other Rob Barratt currently occupying my top spot on Google!
However, what I do know is how difficult it is to build a business from scratch - especially if you're doing it on a small budget, or doing it for the first time. It's daunting and super easy to burn through money by advertising in places you don't fully understand and that don't give you a long-term ROI.
So, what differentiates me is I help small business owners and startup founders, get the attention they need by:
Interviewing them so they can tell their story
Letting them publish on the site
Getting them booked on podcasts in their niche
Giving them long-term exposure
What was the best advice you were given that you ignored and then wished you had followed earlier in life / your career?
You know it's a good question when it's not easy to answer!
And I have mixed feelings about my reply here.
Because I think the advice that I kind of forgot about somewhere along the way would be to do things that you enjoy for work. In my early twenties I got caught up in a well-paying job that allowed me to travel and live in some incredible places. The lifestyle it gave me was wonderful but the work itself didn't light me up as often as I needed it to and that's important to me.
It was in my early 30s, when I was starting to see what the next couple of decades looked like, that I started to think about follow my passions again. It meant taking risks - some very big ones like starting a restaurant in Hong Kong with zero experience - but as soon as I started doing so all kinds of new and interesting things happened to me.
And they still are!
But the reason I have mixed feelings about my answer here is that if I hadn't taken my original path I wouldn't have met my incredible partner, my friends, or had the kind of experiences I've had that really make me feel lucky.
One thing I feel grateful for though is that I re-found that advice to follow what I'm interested in and it's led me to a place where I'm constantly learning and lit up by work.
If you could tell your 6-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Tell your Mum and Dad thank you every single day.
How do you keep going when it gets really hard (and a bit lonely) and are there any strategies you have in the arsenal to recognize and get around these?
I don't care how well-funded you are (or aren't) - every entrepreneur is going to have tough days. For me there are two ways to get over tough moments:
Look very deeply at what you're doing and ask yourself why you're doing it. The answer to that will either make you change course or push you to keep going. 99% of entrepreneurs find the latter.
Remember that it's a moment in time. It's not forever. If it all goes to sh*t then so what? You did more than most people even dare to do because you got started and you put yourself out there. I guarantee that you're going to be a better future employee for someone or a better entrepreneur in your next venture.
How can we get over the fear of being visible?
I love this question because so many entrepreneurs have this problem.
Very often you'll find a lot of first-time entrepreneurs are very happy for their business to talk as if they were some kind of giant corporation. They do this because it's safe and allows the entrepreneur herself to not put their own face and/or name to what the business is putting out there.
But that's just not going to fly when your business is just getting going. Because your customers - especially your early buyers - are buying from YOU, not the business.
An easy way to get over this fear is to re-frame your state of mind.
Instead of worrying about seeming 'salesy' or being judged, remind yourself that the reason your business exists is because someone needs what you're selling. You're helping people.
If you don't share advice and tips on blogs, interviews or social posts, you're not helping anyone.
Help people, help yourself.
Thanks to all of our members and subscribers who asked the questions we put to Rob Barratt in this interview. As promised, we're providing a shoutout to each of them and backlinks to their websites so you can learn more:
Ryan Gonsalves - Founder and CEO, 2nd Wind.io
Michelle Ensuque - Founder and NLP Coach, Meliusse Ltd
Kerry Madgwick - Author, Speaker, and Licensed Hypnotherapist Kerry's Natural Health Solutions
Lindsey Burden - Founder, Intuitive Business Coach
Sarah Gordon - Founder and Managing Director, Signature Tuition Ltd
Rob Barratt is the Co-Founder of The Industry Leaders and is passionate about helping first-time entrepreneurs get the attention their business needs while learning from industry leaders in their field. After creating and selling his first business (a restaurant) Rob found out just how hard it is for small business owners to get the word out about their businesses on a budget. This lead him to create The Industry Leaders which offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to get published alongside industry leaders and appear on podcasts in their niche. You can find out more about becoming a contributing writer and getting booked onto podcasts in your industry, here.