UK lockdown: Government may face legal action says entrepreneur
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Mr Coram-James, the current CEO of Go Up, founded the agency with childhood friend Tom Skinner in 2011: “The business started with just me on my sofa. Tom joined swiftly after, and we started to plan.” Armed with £15,000 and a talent for SEO, the pair were able to create a market leading business and speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Mr Coram-James shared their recipe for success.
“I started Go Up in 2011. I had received £15,000 inheritance from my dad and wanted to put it into something important. I felt that a digital marketing company was future-proof, with all of the rapid tech developments taking place at the time,” Mr Coram-James said.
He got in touch with a childhood friend, Tom, who was also interested in getting into digital marketing. “With the £15k, we rented a desk in Easy Office,” he said.
“With a lot of hard work, we got all of our initial clients there. We were simultaneously working on getting Go Up onto the first page of Google for ‘SEO Agency’, and after climbing up to position three, we started to have clients reach out to us,” he added.
“We’d initially intended to stretch that £15,000 over six months, to protect us if we weren’t having luck with clients, but we hit the ground running. By month three we’d started to expand and hired our first designer, and developer. Within a year we were ranking well on Google for SEO Agency and we developed some great case studies. We went on to hire grow our established teams, as well as hire Content, PR team, and PPC teams.”
The quick success of Go Up saw their LA offices opening in 2018 to cater to the American market and made a profit in less than two months, but this isn’t to say that the road was always easy for the pair.
“Our mistakes have been as key to our growth and evolution as our successes, often more so. And if we did things differently and never made those mistakes, then we would not have learned the lessons that followed them and we wouldn’t be where we are today as a result.”
Go Up has a current turnover of just under £2million and this is without any investment into the business. Instead, the founders choose to reinvest majority of the profits to keep the business growing.
SEO and a solid digital marketing strategy are vital to business in the modern world, ensuring that people searching for a business find the perfect one. Although smaller businesses can sometimes be outdone by larger corporations with big budgets, capitalising on free tools like Google Analytics, if used correctly, can help the underdogs win the clicks at the end of the day.
This is exactly what Mr Coram-James accredits to the success of Go Up: “Our own SEO efforts did us the world of good, as it got us ranking so well on Google. This combined with really strong in-house marketing and great customer reviews and feedback gave potential clients the ability to trust that if we could do it for others, we could do it for them too. Our strong company values have also driven our journey.
“By knowing our values we have been able to attract like-minded clients. People respect companies with strong values and we haven’t ever let ours waver. We hold kindness, fairness, honesty, and sustainability at the core of what we do. If a client does not hold those values or has a negative impact on the climate or world around them, then we don’t want to work with them.”
The founders also don’t plan on changing their values in return for financial gain: “There have been times where we have been offered some high-value contracts from companies within the fossil fuel and fast food industry. Though we could have made huge financial gain from taking on such contracts, it would have undermined our principles.”
Go Up, although his most successful, was not Mr Coram-James’ first entrepreneurial venture, prior to making his start in digital market he founded a local magazine.
“The magazine was profitable from month one, as I sold lots of advertising space. Though the magazine was doing well, I felt that there was more potential in digital, so I shut the magazine and pursued founding a digital marketing agency.”
He added that he is excited for the future of both Go Up and potentially other entrepreneurial ventures for both him and Mr Skinner.
“We have 33 staff, but we’re hoping to see that increase to 50 over the next three years. We also want to ensure that we maintain a culture where people are excited to come and work for us.”
As a successful entrepreneur, Mr Coram-James noted that founding and running a business is not what many people expect, advising young entrepreneurs that making the money is not as glamorous as it may seem.
“There is a lot of hard work involved, and very little of it is remotely sexy. I think Hollywood has really crafted an image of entrepreneurs that are decked in glamour. The reality is monotonous and very hard work.
“You’ll be doing the same job, day in, day out until you grow enough that you can hire and begin delegating tasks. You’re also constantly looking for solutions where there seem to be none. You really must be realistic about what you’re taking on.”
He continued: “I would also stress that if you own a business, that business will have a greater effect on the world than you will as an individual, so ensure that you are honest in the way that you conduct your business. Even if you are individually a good person, if you are dishonest in business, then you are a dishonest person. By always remaining honest you will build a client’s respect and loyalty.
“Finally, it is integral that you choose the right business partner. Tom and I get on so well, and even in the instances that we strongly disagree with each other, we have a lot of respect for one another and will not argue. Your business partner will be one of the most important relationships in your life, so you must be able to trust each other immensely,” he concluded.
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