How to Succeed in Business: Tips From a Superstar Digital Strategist
Far fewer than six degrees separate me and Andrew Fried; we both have a number of connections in the business world. Andrew has spent considerable time consulting, so he’s no stranger to strategy, which helps him take action and not just advise.
As the co-founder of Spark Growth, a digital agency based in Brooklyn, Andrew puts his smarts and creativity into measurable acts that propel his business. I’m excited to introduce you to him.
David: How did you arrive on your current path?Andrew: I was working at Deloitte Consulting when I met my (now) business partner, Elissa Liu. We were both enjoying consulting, but each had a craving to go the startup route.
We initially had our hearts set on building an app or tech company, so we started down that path. At the same time, we were helping a few small and mid-size businesses with their digital and social strategy (read: needed to pay the bills). We immediately figured out that:
a) we loved working with smart, motivated business owners looking to step up their digital game,
b) we weren't that impressed with some of the competition (note to our partners: there are also a lot of other good firms out there), and
c) as we started growing a team, we liked bringing together creative, technical, and business-minded people.
Alas, now we're laser-focused on building and growing Spark Growth as a digital agency with a core focus on social media.
David: What are the most common issues you notice that keep entrepreneurs and small businesspeople from reaching their full potential?Andrew: First of all, not taking the plunge.
I've talked to many, many people who have the potential to create great things, but never take the step to create a company. All we did at Spark Growth to initially create a business was take that first step.
I will talk about the issues that I've faced that have stunted our success...
1) Not giving up enough control. Delegating is hard, especially when it's your company. At first, I was reluctant to give up control on projects, as I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I realized that once we hired the right people for the right roles, giving up control was easier, and the quality of work actually went up (note: other people are better than I am at MANY things). I then had a whole lot more time to grow the business.
2) Hiring people who are right for the job, not the people who are right there. It's easier to give up control when a) you have clear definition about what people should be doing, and b) you have the right people. When we've done a wide and thorough search, and written up very clear job descriptions, we've found our most effective talent.
3) Know what you're bad at. Then find someone who's good at it. I'm bad at a lot of things. I know this. As a team, we have a very transparent culture so we can be open about what we're each good AND bad at. Sometimes we all just need to buck up and improve on our weaknesses. Other times (and oftentimes) it's better to have someone else fill in those gaps.
David: If you could advise business owners to take one action to improve profitability, what would it be?Andrew: Sometimes, our most expensive employees are our cheapest employees.
We've found that it's often better to pay more for someone who's more efficient, more independent, and more productive. In the end, it improves overall profitability.
David: What was the most important thing you did to grow your own career?Andrew: Quit my job and do something else that I love.
I love working at and growing Spark Growth. Every day is a new challenge. Every day I feel like we're making a difference for other companies. And every day I enjoy working with our team in the culture we've created.
When we work with our clients on social media, we talk a lot about intentionality. Whether or not they're active on social media, people will still be talking about their brands. Creating an intentional strategy helps to shape the conversation, and create an online presence on their own terms.
Quitting my job to start Spark Growth with Elissa allowed us to be intentional with our own careers. We're able to create our agency on our terms, and work with clients and a team we like working with.
Andrew Fried (@andrewfried) is a digital and social strategist, and the co-founder of Spark Growth, a digital agency based in Brooklyn, NY.
To find out more, check out www.sparkgrowth.com or give Andrew and team a call at 646-389-2618.