Meet the founder of Curated Digital
I'm so excited to get started Simon, thank you again for joining me. Now, before we get into Curated Digital, tell me more about Simon Douglass before the business?
Thank you for having me Nadine. Well, I'm the Founder and Owner of Curated Digital. I have 15 years experience in Digital Marketing, joining Google when it was a fledgling startup back in 2003. I've worked at Google for 7 years (with a break to attempt a full-time career as a stand-up comic) followed by a few years working for various digital agencies before forming Curated in July 2014.
Inspiration is always a great indication of why people launch businesses. Who or what inspired you to get started?
I had known for a long time that I wanted to be my own boss, so when I saw a gap in the market which other digital agencies had failed to fill, Curated Digital was born. My inspiration comes from…. My background working in other agencies and how siloed and political it was to actually get something done - I wanted to put client goals first and worry about figuring out the internal stuff behind the scenes.
How do you set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry?
We're an open and honest digital marketing agency, whose signature 'Curated' approach focuses on complete goals rather than individual channels working in silo. We're experts in search, digital PR, content marketing, paid advertising, and social media marketing and our clients come from a broad spectrum of B2B and B2C industries. We look at an integrated strategy for our clients, and that coupled with the transparency we adopt means that we offer something different to the others in the space.
What’s the single most important decision that you made, that contributed to your business?
Probably evolving the way that digital marketing is done into the way that digital marketing should be done, in our way - primarily evolving our SEO offering into a content, PR and multimedia offering, and evolving our PPC offering into a paid advertising channel which also includes paid social, biddable media and affiliates. The people we’ve hired have shaped our product and service offering and, given that we are a small, agile company we have been able to develop that service offering quickly into something that delights our customers by delivering amazing results
How did you fund the launch of your business and what creative strategies did you use to execute a minimal cash flow?
I launched Curated with only my life savings but we were immediately profitable which is unusual for a small business. We were profitable from month one because I’d ‘creatively’ scoped out potential clients behind the scenes in my previous job. There were lots of companies who wanted to work with me but because of the size of the agency I was working at, it wasn’t always possible. Since we were a new company, we were able to take those briefs on, and grow them too
How did you conquer those moments of doubt that so often affect entrepreneurs or stop many with great ideas – what pushes you through?
I’ll be honest, some days its really tough - some mornings I will wake up with the weight of the world on my shoulders and think, “I wish someone was there to tell me what to do” but that’s often tempered by the immediate realisation that “great, there’s nobody above me to tell me what to do… lets do this”. All of the jobs I’ve ever had have put roadblocks in the way to prevent things from happening - remembering that you’re in charge of your own destiny always pushes you through.
What would be your number one tip for young entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their own business?
Starting a business is not for the faint hearted, there will be times when you question whether it’s all worth it and times where you remember the freedom of a 9-5 working life. There will also be times when you feel on top of the world and you know that it’s the best decision that you have ever made. I would say stick to you gut, be prepared to work for long hours and try all the free trials of software that you can.
If you could have one person record your voicemail, who would it be and why?
Who needs voicemail when you have email? I’m not good with the phone - there’s actually a problem with my phone which means it never goes to voicemail but just rings out instead. Also face to face is better than phone. OK, so if I had to pick someone, it would be Dylan Moran.
What’s the most important question entrepreneurs should be asking themselves?
I think something along the lines of why you are doing what you are doing? Are you really trying to make a difference and do you have a passion for what you are trying to achieve. If the answer is yes then you’re in a great place.
Recharging every so often, especially as a parent and entrepreneur is important. How do you recharge when you’re feeling burnt out?
Honestly, I run a bath and lie in it for about an hour. It’s difficult to block work out, it flits in and out of my head, but my wife teaches mindfulness so I’ve been trying to accept that those thoughts will occur, but try to bring it back to the now.
If my son is awake, then I love spending time with him, telling jokes, building stuff, reading stories, creating adventures. I can genuinely lose myself in that relationship and totally forget about work
How did you build such an amazing consumer culture around Curated Digital?
At Curated Digital, one of the most important things for me in the wellbeing of my employees. It’s always been my experience that if people are happy with their job and in the office, then this reflects on the work that they produce. In order to do this I have done several things over the years. Firstly, I ensure that people feel valued as employees. This is what I did to ensure that this happened
Giving people autonomy over their projects from the beginning.
- Adopting a flat hierarchy across the business
- Allowing new employees to have client facing time from the beginning
- Having open and transparent talks about where the company is heading
- Ensuring that everyone’s ideas are heard
This approach has helped to build and maintain the culture of the office which is strong and vibrant and is one of the reasons our clients stay.
What are your thoughts on failure as an entrepreneur?
Failure shouldn’t be feared, a lot of businesses go under and there is no such thing as a overnight success. If anything I would say embrace failure and learn all you can from it so you don’t make the same mistakes again.