Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: Hi my name is Adam Oken and I am the owner of AZ Web Consultants. We are a small agency located in Tempe, Arizona. We focus on digital marketing for small businesses to increase their ROI. We take a special interest in serving the greater Phoenix metro area because we are local to here. We also work with small businesses throughout the country.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: I grew up in New York and went to college at SUNY Binghamton New York. I was always into computers and sciences which lead me to graduating with a degree in Biology. I later went to Galvanize coding school where I learned software development. This led me to take a job out in Arizona where I worked with software development for enterprise companies. While doing this, I wanted to work more closely with my clients, something I did not get to experience at an enterprise company. I started my digital marketing business with a focus on helping small businesses get exposure in their local area. I was a one-man shop making phone calls, doing web design, digital marketing, administration and client management. This was all while working full-time. I finally decided to go full-time in 2017. I now work with a small team to help manage all of these parts.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: I came to the realization I cannot work at a desk job at an enterprise company. There is nothing wrong with it, but it is just not for me. I felt like I could really see the benefits I had on small businesses and change people’s financial lives. By bringing small businesses into the new digital age, older businesses that have extensive experience can be heard and seen. Newer businesses that need help with their digital marketing can use my consulting. This helps everyone from the business themselves and their clients who receive exceptional service.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
- Be your own coach – when starting out no one will tell you what to do except yourself. You have freedom to work your ass off and make moves, or you can lie in bed. If you have ever played a sport, act like how your coach would act towards you.
- Adapt – Always be aware of the newest thing and adapt your services to any gaps you may have. Digital marketing is constantly changing. What marketing was 10 years ago is drastically different than it is now.
- Enjoy and trust the process – there have been many times where I felt hopeless. I was not getting good leads and things slowed down. Frustrations and disasters occurred that were stressful. BUT I kept moving forward. Like Rocky says, “its not about how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up”. You won’t “fail” as long as you continue to push on. Trust the process and you’ll eventually get a WIN.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- SMART work ethic – its not about how busy you are or how many hours worked, but how effective you use your time
- Ability to adapt and try new things
- Provide the service at an above average level
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: It depends. In the beginning I was putting in at least 10+ hours a day. Some days I will work 5-6 hours, other days I will work 12+ hours. Each day is different but I trust my body’s rhythm. It’s not about how many hours but how SMART those hours are.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: Not giving up, finding the right people to work with, having a smart work ethic.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: Marketing is constant. I try to make myself available on multiple avenues — SEO, referral, cold-calling and working with salesman, freelancing platforms and lead generation sources.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: It started with my savings from my 9-5 job. Luckily, there is not much overhead for a digital business besides software. All I needed was a computer! I was able to make this last enough to build a sustainable business.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Smart work ethic. Adapt. Collaborate.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: I see my business becoming a large digital marketing agency that continues to provide for small businesses and drives results. I would like to invest the capital into SaaS companies and develop new apps/software for people as well.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Robert Herjavec’s company BRAK Systems before it got sold to AT&T. Robert grew up poor from nothing and built a software company worth millions. He then became an investor on Shark Tank to help small businesses grow through marketing, collaboration and mentorship.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: I would be no where without the help of my employees. They have been integral to my success.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: Sometimes ideas are great but it’s just not the right time. Other times they are simply not good. I usually test out an idea a few times before giving up on it.
Q. What motivates you?
Ans: Helping small businesses achieve financial freedom and having the freedom to do what I want.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Staying current with new marketing techniques and competitors. Also, seeing what works and customers are asking for.
Q. How do you define success?
Ans: Success is doing something you enjoy, helps people and on your own terms.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Take care of your customers. Offer them new services you think will benefit them and check-in with them from time to time.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: I really enjoy the freedom. Even though there is more work it does not feel like more work. I also know every bit of work I put it I get back.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Hearing my client’s tell me I have changed the direction of their business and helped them financially. If I can truly help someone’s life through this, it makes me feel like I can make a real difference in someone’s life for the better.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: Entrepreneurs are idiots. They are naive to the odds of becoming successful which makes them become entrepreneurs in the first place! If we knew the chances we would be crazy to quit our jobs!
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: Hindsight is 20/20 but I would say focus on driving immense results to a client and really master this. It is difficult at the start but you can get paid a lot more and get infinite referrals from one good case study.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: It is better. I can take the time of day to talk and slow-down. I have more freedom to visit and see them as well.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: I don’t think we are born entrepreneurs. It comes down to learned qualities. SMART work ethic, trust the process and collaboration with others.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Thomas Edison. I want to know what was going through his head, how he came up with ideas and his work ethic.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: I always looked up to Robert Herjavec. He came from rags to riches and had an entrepreneurial spirit. He also worked in tech.
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: Juggling my 9-5 with my business. I was not able to help my clients as well as I knew I could. Eventually I came to the point where I had to choose one or the other. I felt way better and delivered a better service.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: Have that one go-to person to call on when shit hits the fan. Also, systems in place that can prevent as much as possible.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: I like to watch and play sports. I enjoy music and going to festivals. I like hiking, traveling and trying new foods.
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: I have to sacrifice the typical work day of 9-5. I was working 9-5 then 5-10. I sometimes have to sacrifice hanging out with my buddies on the weekend. Sleep as well.
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