An attribute I really like in the people that I work with is having the ability and drive to do a legit self-assessment. Nothing is better than working with someone who knows that they have strengths and weaknesses, and are aware of both. To me, the best people teach others about their strengths and remind others about their weaknesses and seek help regularly from others.
I say that because I do this re-evaluation quite often. Every founder must be cognizant of their skill sets and the needs of their company, and must also be honest enough to know when the needs of the organization are greater than their skill sets and natural tendencies.
Last year was a tough year for SEER. We were making investments in things that pretty much had an unconfirmed long-term impact on SEER’s expenses. Buy that big software, relocate these 5 people, fly the team here and there. I was so used to our top line growing so much that it actually masked years of me making poor financial decisions. Last year even a YoY growth over 30% couldn’t protect us from my loose management style.
So I looked in the mirror and at the bank account and said, “maybe I am a great CEO up to a certain size.” Since early on I never really wanted SEER to get over 10 people. I think I would have been fine if we stayed under 30-ish. As we became bigger with 74 employees, 2 offices, and 4 divisions, things become more complex and keeping it all in my head (and in evernote) was virtually impossible. Not only that, but it was impacting our company. And to be honest, it was impacting me as well. I was spending way more time away from doing SEO than I ever had, and that is why I started this business in the first place.
My answer is cut and dry: begin the process of demoting yourself, which is exactly what I did with Crystal O’Neill. We’ve been working together for 7 years and its been nothing but amazing; Crystal has always been more than just someone I work with. I also watched and became completely envious of how much better her division (PPC) ran than mine did, and also realizing that her ability to see ahead, plan ahead, and to ask the right questions to get to the true issues was so much stronger than mine.
As such, the time has come to hand the torch over. We announced this to the company 4 months ago and it’s been out there since that time, but how I arrived at this decision was never disclosed.
Crystal is now my boss (when I am in SEO Director mode.) She and I did a one-on-one recently and she asked me about how my division was doing, and I’m not too sure if she saw the smile start to creep across my face. I had a boss and that was so cool for once. I am now spending more and more time on working with my team and our clients, and it feels great.
With the time that I’m now getting back, I’m going to backfill with the team on a few things…
We will produce more epic content. We’ve learned so much about promotion, data, and responsive sites and now we’re able to bring that to our client work. We have one in the hopper now.
We want to help great content by great writers get found more often. Keep an eye out for AmpliFound, our free advice service for bloggers who love to write and hate seeing their content get outranked by low-quality stuff. It’s time to even out the playing field and we are going to sink at least 500+ hours in this endeavor.
We are going to keep working on content acceleration testing.
We are researching how to rank in Amazon.com, the app stores, and Pinterest. The industry is moving us there little by little, and we want to be ready.
We’re going to continue to find the synergies between analysis, PPC, SEO, and content.
So welcome to what we’re referring to as SEER labs. In a world where everything is changing, I’m now going to (with Crystal’s help) have the time to think about just that and how to best prepare our clients for it. I don’t care if we call ourselves inbound marketing, content marketing, SEO, or Internet marketing. I think it’s come time for us as SEOs to start showing people that we can also develop marketing concepts that drive business value, with or without an impact on search.