My British wife and I had no friends or family to support us when we first landed on New Zealand shores in 2009.
Those first months were full of challenges. I had taken a punt on renting a property unseen through TradeMe, optimistic that things would work out. Without “Kiwi experience,” I struggled to find a job (a challenge so great I ended up creating my own job, founding Pure SEO). Laying the groundwork for the security and stability we needed to start the family we’d dreamed of would turn out to be a greater struggle than we’d anticipated. Fortunately, things did work out. After a few miscarriages, we built our family, and after a few hard lessons, the business we’d built began to thrive. The story of Pure SEO, however, could have turned out quite differently had it not been for these five lessons.
1. Find the right people
There is absolutely no way I could have built an international team of over 80 without the support, expertise and guidance of some truly brilliant people.
As the public face of the company, many of the plaudits are directed at me, but the real heroes are behind the scenes. Pure SEO boasts a wealth of loyal and amazing people that I hope to work with and have in my life long after Pure SEO is a distant memory.
2. Make the most of staff churn
I know this seems counter-intuitive but departing staff can be a good thing for a business (especially considering the first lesson). As a business evolves, so too do the required skillsets of the people within it.
Often, the best people for the start-up phase of your business will get lost as the business becomes more established. Their skill sets may have been perfect for generating momentum but not sustaining it.
Ultimately, however, the biggest benefit of staff churn for Pure SEO has been the people we’ve discovered along the way, from our head of product to our general manager to our account managers director to our operations person. These people have brought fresh thinking to a business that would not have endured had some staff not moved on.
(Slight caveat: there’s still such thing as too much staff churn…)
3. Trust your numbers people
I’m a numbers person but I’m not a details person. Every business needs people who know how to find the opportunities, weaknesses and threats hidden in the raw data. Finding such detailed, finance-driven people has been critical for Pure SEO.
The wisdom we’ve gained from the people who know where and how to look at the numbers has helped us update our systems, practices and processes. We’re more efficient and more profitable, and our experts across all our various departments can focus more on what they do best.
4. Value culture over profits and revenue
Like any company, we’re in business to make money, but making money should never come at the expense of doing right by the people that choose to work for you. Culture is a company’s lifeblood. Never compromise on looking out for your people and making your business authentic to what you believe. Doing so will pay dividends.
5. Keep having fun
As with many things in life, if you’re not enjoying it, what are you doing it for? This is true not just for you but also for the people who work for you. At Pure SEO, we only want people who genuinely want to be here.
These days, I spend a lot of time reflecting on the milestones in the business: our first office, our first $10k, $100k, and $1m months, spending time with Richard Branson on Necker Island, selling a stake in the business, writing a book. I think our biggest success has been the people and businesses we’ve touched along the way.
Here’s to the next 12 years of lessons to learn!