I had the opportunity to interview Nicholas Reed, a digital agency owner, this week as we talked about getting niche-specific and finding that perfect route for yourself.
Hey Nicholas how old are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Hey Adam, I’m 24 years old and I was born and raised in a suburb in Northern California, however, I recently made the big move to Salt Lake City, Utah. Currently, I own and operate a social media marketing agency called 253 Media. We specialize in creating complete advertising systems for the automotive industry. I focus more on the advertising system side of things because that’s the part of the business that I enjoy the most.
What made you want to go choose the route you did and be an entrepreneur?
It’s actually a funny story. So I was working as a salesperson at an Eco-Friendly product company while I was trying to break into the pro cycling circuit. I had the opportunity to race on a pro cycling team in the Netherlands and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep my job over there. I still needed to have some money coming in, so before I moved to Europe, I decided to start my agency. I had been doing freelance marketing projects since I was 15 so it seemed pretty natural to just make a bigger push and start an actual company.
Over the years, I had started multiple side hustles from personal training to an e-commerce cycling company. I looked back at what I had done well with each project and what I had done poorly with each project and I decided to take my strengths from everything and capitalize on them. The biggest strengths were definitely on the marketing side of things so starting a social media marketing agency seemed like a good idea. I had a fair amount of experience with Facebook and Instagram ads from the work I had done for my projects so I thought that taking what I knew and applying it to other businesses would be less headache and more profitable.
Before I started the agency, I thought about working another job, but one of my biggest struggles with working a 9-5 was how my managers never listened to my ideas, then I would notice that they would slowly start to implement my ideas. I was by far the youngest person in the company and I never got taken seriously, even though my sales numbers were competitive. With that in mind, I thought doing my own thing would allow me to grow and learn and really see how businesses work.
Have you always had an entrepreneurial mindset or been interested in the idea?
Yes, I have actually but I never had an entrepreneurial focus. Growing up, I always dreamed of being a professional motocross racer. I raced from when I was seven years old until I was 20, then I switched over to road cycling in 2015, then turned pro in 2016. With sports, I always saw myself as a brand and my business was to connect with potential sponsors. My entrepreneurial side was helpful because that’s how I kept racing. I grew up incredibly poor and my parents didn’t have money to help support my racing. In fact, when I was in high school, my dad and I rented a room in a house and shared the room for four years just so we could afford to get to the races. Unfortunately, motocross is a rich man’s sport so I needed to make some extra money. But when you’re racing on the weekend and training all week while going to school, having a job isn’t really in the cards.
I did stuff like selling Pokémon cards in elementary school, selling custom tech-decks in middle school, then selling dirt bikes and custom beanies and mowing lawns in high school. Everything I did was tailored around getting myself to the dirt bike races and having enough money for coaching.
As I was racing, I always knew that motocross wasn’t a permanent thing nor was I going to make much money racing, so my plan for after racing was always to open a training facility. I’ve always loved helping other people get to the next level and I always knew that I would be a business owner. For me it was never about the money, it was just because I loved the sport and wanted to help other people, but at the same time, growing up so poor put a chip on my shoulder and made me never want to struggle for money again. I saw business owners that could provide their family with a lot more than my family could so that appeal to me growing up.
Have you always known that you wanted to have a social media marketing agency? If so, why?
No not at all! The agency was actually more of a random start. I had quite a bit of freelance marketing experience and a fair amount of social media experience and when I moved to Europe I needed something that I could build and operate completely remotely. So I decided to make a bigger push and turn my side hustle into a real business.
At the time, I didn’t even know who Tai Lopez was. I didn’t take a course or even know that starting an “SMMA” was a trend. I started the company because it was something that I knew I could be good and fit my need for working on my computer. I was pretty bummed when I found out about Tai’s course because I thought I had a really great and fairly original idea, then I realized that I really didn’t. So that’s when I decided that I needed to differentiate my agency and turn it into what it is today.
Do you think with an agency it’s important to be niche specific? Are you niche specific?
Yes and no. When I first started, I called people who were advertising on Yelp. My niche was just businesses that were advertising on Yelp. My first client was a dealership (and I still work with them to this day!), but I also worked with a lot of other companies. My dealership client actually opened a lot of doors for me and introduced me to other dealers as well, which helped.
I did a TON of research on all the courses and different ideas that people were pushing and what everyone was focusing on. I saw that my system was working well and had a few additional pieces that not very many other people were offering, plus I could easily replicate my system for other dealerships. I also really like the people in the automotive industry. I know that dealerships get a bad rep, but my experience has been the opposite. Most of the time, the dealership people are pretty cool! And if they aren’t cool, then I don’t want to work with them anyways.
That’s how my niche found me. Whenever I meet someone that is just starting their agency, I always tell them to keep the industry broad and niche down on the location. Your niche should be businesses in your area. This will allow you to get your feet wet in lots of different industries and learn what you like and what will work best for you. Let the niche find you.
Where do you see your business in the next year?
Right now I’m in an aggressive team-building phase. My big focus is building a team of motivated people who want to grow and learn how to do sales or learn how to do marketing. By summer 2020, my goal is to have two or three people on the sales team then one or two other marketing people.
I think that team building is one of the most challenging aspects of building a business, but I think it’s necessary to build a team of people who can complement your skills to get to the next level.
What are 3 tips you’d give to somebody just starting in entrepreneurship?
The first tip I would say is to take a trip by yourself for the weekend. Put your phone in airplane mode and think about yourself. Practice self-awareness and think about where your strengths lie and what’s important to you. What are you good at and how can you monetize that? By realizing exactly who you are, you’re able to be much more genuine in your venture and you’ll be able to do something great instead of just faking something that you’re not.
The second tip is to try as many things as possible. If you want to be a digital marketer. Work with as many niches as possible and learn what you like and what you don’t like. I never expected to like working with dealerships, but now I love it.
The third tip I have is to stop scrolling Instagram and comparing yourself to other people. We are all on our own journey. That was always something I struggled with. At 23, I’d see these people who were 17 or 18 and they were ten levels above me and it used to frustrate me like crazy. Now I just realize that I’m on a different path and I’m going at the pace I need to go. Besides, why would you want to be like someone else? Be yourself.
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