Seo agency

How I Had a Baby and Started an SEO Agency at the Same Time

When I told my wife I wanted to quit my job and start my own SEO agency, she was 4 months pregnant.

Rise at Seven was born on June 17, 2019. Maximus was born on October 2.

So as I write this I have a 6 month old company and a 15 week old baby.

Here’s what I do to deal with those two things together and not drop the ball too much.

How I Balance Fatherhood and Running an Agency

I know I couldn’t do any of this on my own

I was able to take two weeks of paid paternity leave only because my co-founder Carrie Rose was there to run the agency while I was away.

My wife and I also formalized the compromises I would make for my family.

  • I don’t check my phone between the first trip home and when Max goes to sleep.
  • I have a to-do list in the morning and evening to help around the house.
  • I have Max for a few hours in the morning and let my wife sleep.

I know who is in my support network

I have wonderful friends in the industry who I know will help me.

But I take a chance and DM people I look up to once in a while when I could really use some advice from someone who’s been there and done it.

I’m always happy to chat, so if any of this resonates with you, send me a message.

I remove non-essential travel

A lot of porn on social media basically advocates door-to-door selling. Hit the road and force your way through buildings to get meetings.

Really, don’t do that.

We won 10 of Rise at Seven’s first 12 contracts without meeting with our customers. I still haven’t met some of our best customers.

Qualify by phone.

Give your potential customers the option to stick to email if they want, not everyone even wants a phone call.

If I have to travel (I work on site with clients two days a week at the moment), I stay at the hotel.

I’m worse than useless (disruptive, actually) if I come home at 11 p.m. and leave at 5 a.m. — something I’ve done for years and never batted an eyelid.

I know Rise at Seven would not work as a remote company at this time

I need separation or I know I will constantly put Max down to fight the agency fires and quit my job when Max cries. Remote work is a great choice for many people, but I know it’s not for me.

Don’t feel like you have to be a remote business just because it’s all over social media.

Similarly, there are plenty of remote agencies you could work for, so I don’t feel like I need to change Rise at Seven to accommodate potential hires at this time.

In fact, I love commuting: I take care of 15 employees and 27 clients every day in the office. Driving is the only time I’m alone with my thoughts before heading home with my wife and Max.

I gave up drinking at night

I barely even realized I was doing it at the end. But I know I can’t walk in the door and serve a whiskey when the next thing I’ll do is go get Max.

I think anyone with a high-pressure career should find out what their coping mechanisms are.

Outside of work and family, I reject just about everything else

I haven’t turned on my Xbox in months; I don’t look at boxes.

The downside is that I don’t really exercise either, so when I stay at the hotel I make the most of the gym. Studies show that exercise is extremely positive for mental health.

The time between Decide start an agency & In fact, tossing it Was a month

the only The reason we were able to do this was the time and effort that Carrie and I had put into building our reputation, our networks, our social following, and our skills.

We never worked 9-5 jobs. If you plan to start an SEO agency in the future, start building now – it’s a game of momentum.

I spent most of the month before launch planning for the launch itself

We didn’t tell anyone about the agency before it went public and because we had a launch strategy – and the element of surprise – we were able to get a lot of attention.

I am absolutely convinced that if we had started small and said we would “try this agency” or “dip our toes into consulting”, we wouldn’t have grown so fast.

Growing up fast was essential

I knew (roughly) when Max would be born and that I wouldn’t be able to work for clients while I was in hospital or on paternity leave, so we did everything we could to make enough money to make a job.

Our SEO and CRO manager joined us just before Max gave birth.

Delegation is important

I know I could never forget the agency if I thought I was the only one who could solve something. I hired Matt because he’s a better technical SEO than me.

I hired an Insights Manager who is more data savvy than me.

Blair Enns and David C. Baker talked about the “12 roles” a Founder plays in an episode of their 2Bobs podcast – I wanted to whittle those 12 down to a manageable number as quickly as possible.

Home time is home time, work time is work time

For me, home time is home time and work time is work time, so I don’t procrastinate at work.

I want to do everything essential before I leave the office so I can give Max as much attention as possible.

I knew it would be hard work, so I was transparent about it

I know I have to be honest with my teams, at home and at work. When we interviewed our first recruits, we gave them every reason not to join us.

We were a startup (again, don’t let social media fool you that startup life is amazing – it has its ups and downs).

We didn’t have a process to speak of.

We had no structure.

We only had a few clients…it would be hard work.

Eliminate negativity

Again, on social media, I’ve muted a bunch of people, even some people I like (in real life).

I need all the help I can get to stay positive so I don’t see constant criticism from the same people (but they can contact me if they really want to).

I highly recommend using the mute button whether you have a small child to watch or not.

Don’t sweat the little things

I wasn’t prepared to have a baby or have an agency and it’s not exactly how I thought it would be.

I don’t sweat the small stuff so I think things are generally good.

to summarize

Although it may seem obvious, it’s not really a guide to having a baby and starting a business at the same time.

As my former colleague Gina says, I’m lucky, as a man, that this was possible for me.

I’m just pointing out that this thread is geared like “how to have a baby and start a business at the same time” when it’s really about “how to be a dad and start a business at the same time”. This is gender-specific advice, but not labeled as such.

—Gina Kershaw (@gmkershaw91) December 11, 2019

But hopefully my experiences so far can be helpful to anyone who runs (or helps run) an SEO business and doesn’t want to let their young family down.

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