MSMP 74: Ryan Stewart on People Scaling

While technology is an important part of scaling any business, without the right people, that scaling will never be successful.  This is a deeply held belief of my guest for today’s episode of the Mads Singers Management Podcast, Ryan Stewart.  Ryan, like many entrepreneurs I know (myself included), doesn’t limit himself to one business.  But he has smartly ensured that all three play in the same space: Webris, a digital marketing agency focused on SEO for B2B SaaS, The Blueprint Training, to train people to be better SEOs, as well as a software company that helps companies automate their marketing.

While Ryan has been in the marketing space for a decade now, he originally started as a consultant for Deloitte before discovering this thing called “internet marketing.”  Soon enough he was building his own websites, wordpress plugins, and even a digital marketing agency, all of which he has sold at one time or another.

Right away I asked him how he managed to keep all these businesses running smoothly, and he quickly answered: people and processes.  He firmly believes that the only thing that stops businesses from growing quickly is having the right people in place.  I couldn’t really disagree with him.  People are everything to a scaling business.  

As for where to find those people, Ryan really likes using LinkedIn not only because he can learn a lot about a potential hire there, but also see what their activity level is like and learn more about them through what they are commenting and sharing.  He has an interesting recruiting process in which he puts final candidates through a paid trial in order to assess them in a “real world” environment.  Not everyone goes for it, but that’s one more part of the screening process that gets him to the right candidate.

As for what could differentiate an SEO agency from the competition, Ryan focused on customer service and EQ.  “Customers have differing levels of what it is SEO ‘does’ exactly, so you need to know what level of knowledge you are working with and communicate appropriately.”  I agreed and pointed out that that’s also related to how much you charge.  The better you communicate with your client about what you’re able to do for them for what you’re charging them, the likelier they are to accept your (higher) prices.

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Key Learning Points:

  1. Ryan talks about his secret to maintaining multiple businesses successfully - 2:45
  2. Mads shares why you DON’T want to just hire a copy of yourself - 4:15
  3. Mads discusses the importance of case studies - 10:13
  4. Ryan agrees, and notes that those case studies should be niche-specific for maximum impact - 10:13
  5. Mads notes the direct relationship between pricing and what you’re able to do for a client - 14:30
  6. Ryan talks about how Covid-19 has affected his business - 17:10
  7. Ryan sees the value in SEO as something that cannot yet be automated - 20:28
  8. Mads talks about the fading importance of physical office space as part of business “legitimacy” - 27:15
  9. Ryan talks up the value of LinkedIn as a place to hire - 30:45
  10. Ryan tells us why he pays people for a paid trial as part of the hiring process - 32:07

Connect with Ryan Stewart:

LinkedIn

Twitter