If you ask online entrepreneur Llew Jury what a start-up needs to get off the ground, he’ll tell you passion and smart digital marketing tactics are the key.
And he should know, having launched two highly successful businesses in just over a decade. The first was web design business Alfresco Design, which he launched with brother Al in 1999 and later sold to a consortium led by Next Digital and STW Group for a reported $1 million.
Having had experience with search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) as early as 2001, Jury saw there weren’t any solid businesses offering these services in Queensland. So with just $500 in capital he launched Reload Media in 2008, and has been delivering market quality return-on-investment based digital marketing solutions since.
From those humble beginnings just five years ago, Reload Media now enjoys 100 percent growth every year and Jury employs 55 staff, who work from offices in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and India.
Jury tells Dynamic Business what he sees as the next big online opportunity for entrepreneurs and reveals how company culture is contributing to the success of his business.
Q. You’ve worked closely with your brother over the years, what are some of the benefits of launching a business with a family member? Are there any downsides?
My brother Al and I worked well together for seven years, but we really had to work on our personal relationship outside of business hours. It’s very easy to “talk shop”, even at family events, and it can become all-consuming if you’re not careful.
If you do work with your siblings, I recommend physically sitting away from them. I did this with Al and it worked well, as we didn’t have to see each other all the time.
One of the positive aspects can be linked to the saying “blood is thicker”, as this was really true in our case. We know each other pretty well and could tell what the other was thinking, which came in handy in difficult situations or negotiations.
Q. You were at the forefront of the web design and SEO trend – what do you see as the next big online opportunity for entrepreneurs?
There’s huge opportunities available with mobile technology, such as NFC (near field communications). I believe it will be bigger than QR codes as you don’t need to download an app to read the content. NFC allows you to position your mobile close enough to an item of marketing and it will automatically push content to your device.
Mobiles and tablets are going to overtake laptops as the most used devices and there will also be massive opportunities for advertising.
Q. What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Cashflow is king. In our business, we have two people who work on getting invoices paid at all times. What appears on your accounts receivable list doesn’t necessarily mean you have that much in the bank.
Q. How important do you think it is for entrepreneurs to work on building a good culture in their business?
A great culture from day one is everything. We’ve set up the company to run itself, as our staff at all levels feel like they own a little piece of the business.
We have lots of great corporate culture incentives including geek shirt Friday, weekly massage, golf days, pool tables, XBOXs, lounge areas with Google bean bags, footy teams, flu shots, and staff even get the day off on their birthday.
Q. What are your three best start-up tips?
1. Enjoy what you’re doing. The more passionate you are about the venture, the more this confidence rubs off on prospective clients and staff.
2. Don’t use set questions at an interview. We have a basic structure, but find a general chat will allow you to find out much more. Let the applicant talk more than you though!
3. Use digital marketing as a cheap of way getting set up. Areas such as SEO, PPC and social media are a great way to cost-effectively grow your brand and measure the ROI of any campaign. Remember – if it’s not working, turn it off and try something else.