Episode 11 – Carrie Rose – Rise at Seven

Listen Now:

Audio Transcript:

VO Guy:

Hello. And thanks for coming along to And we have an office Dog, the digital agency podcast where we talk to agency owner directors and learn more about what makes them tick. From the things that make them similar to the things they’d rather have known sooner, where they’ve success and where they’ve learned some hard lessons. All will be revealed with your host, Chris Simmance, the agency coach, and he’ll be talking to a different awesome agency person in each episode, asking them four questions and seeing where the conversation takes us over the next 25 minutes. Okay, so let us begin. Over to you, Chris.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Thanks, voiceover guy. And on the podcast today, we’ve got Carrie from Rise at Seven. Hi, Carrie.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Hello.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Welcome to the podcast. So, first thing, first thing, how are you doing?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

I’m really good. I’m having a good day. I was just skipping around my living room, because we just found out we won an amazing pitch. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks. It’s been a dream brand. And yeah, you know when you just really want a win? And we got a big one. So, yeah, today’s a good day. I’m in a good mood.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Fantastic. This is perfect. So, we’ve got smiles and a good mood version of Carrie for the podcast, which is fantastic. So, first and foremost, every single agency gets an opportunity to shout from the rooftops all about themselves.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Okay.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Shout from the rooftops who are Rise, what are Rise, what do they all do for that one person that’s probably listening that’s not heard of you.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Okay, I was about to say we shout a lot about who we are and what we do. So, Rise at Seven is a search first creative agency. And a lot of people might be thinking, “What the hell is that, search first creative?” I’ve worked in SEO most of my life and SEO was always a technical thing. It was always a technical discipline, but actually, search in my eyes is so much more creative than people think. There’s two sides of SEO. There’s facilitating search. People know what they’re searching for on Google, whether they’re looking for a holiday, they’re looking to buy a car, or whatever it is, an SEO facilitates that search through content, through UX, through links and all that sort of stuff.

But then there’s also this separate side of search where I don’t think many agencies explore and that’s around drivers. How do we get people to… driving people to search basically, search for a holiday, search for a car. So, we basically do both sides. We have a SEO team, a UX team, data team that look after the facilitating of search. But then we have this PR social brand team basically that help get people to search for in the first place. So, yeah, driving facilitators.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

You sell number one rankings and then you sell the people influencing people searching for the thing that you rank number one for.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Exactly it.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Perfect. It’s a perfect, perfect, perfect business model.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Agreed.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, in every single podcast, we start with four questions. We see where the conversation takes us.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yup.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, let’s begin. The first question I’ve got for you is what’s been one of the biggest successes for you as an agency owner over the last few years?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Ooh, that’s a big question. To be honest, I feel lucky as hell to have survived through this pandemic. So, I launched Rise at Seven in June 2019 and the pandemic hit… What? It was like maybe February 2020. Something like that.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

So, I had about five months before the pandemic hit and I remember we was growing at rapid speed. The industry was growing as well. Demand for what we did was all of a sudden increased. And when the pandemic then it hit, I remember shitting myself thinking, “I’m going to lose everything. I’m going to lose everything overnight.” I remember I rang my mom and I was like, “Mom, I’m going to lose it all overnight.” Like I had five job ads live and I was thinking, “Should I take that down?”

So, the thing that I’m most proud of is getting through that, getting through the pandemic, getting through the hard times of the Great Resignation, getting through trying to make profit as a business. Most businesses don’t make profit in their first year and we made a lot of profit in our first year. So, we really did do well. And something that I’ve been thinking about, I made notes actually about this last night when I was thinking about coming on this, and I was thinking, “What is it? What is it in the early days that really helped us from that?” And I think it was we focused on sales from day one. It was all about sales.

So, I read this quote. I actually heard this quote many times over the years. And it was, “If you focus on sales, everything else falls into place. If you make money, money buys people.” Which a lot of people don’t have right now. Money also buys skill sets which you don’t have, money buys time, project management tools. So, if you focus on getting money into your business, everything else can be figured out afterwards. And I think so many businesses get it wrong. They focus on building a really good business that has processes, and tools, and people, but then they don’t focus on money. They don’t focus on making money in the end of it. So, yeah, I think we did it the other way round, but it worked.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

I think there’s nothing wrong with doing it in that way round. And as you’ve proven, it works really well. And you’re only as good as your cash flow in a business.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Literally, yeah.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And if you don’t have good cash flow, that dictates the speed at which you can grow. That, or debt. And a good amount of cash in the bank through sales is fantastic. As you know, most agency owners that you’ve come across yourself, they start their businesses because they’re really good at what they do. They’re not necessarily the business running person. And part of the problem with that is that they spend the first 18 months of their agency’s life selling via referrals and recommendations, and things like that. And that feels great. And then when they go, “Right, let’s get growth happening.” And you go, “Ah, shit, we got to do sales now. We got to sell quicker than we’re losing clients.” And if you start plugging them in early on, then you do get a fast growing business.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Exactly, yeah. And that’s what the biggest learning curve for me is. You mentioned something then, like typically people start businesses because they’re really good at doing something.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

And something they enjoy. Admittedly, that was me. I was really, really good at search first creative. That’s what I was really good at. I won awards for it. I did all this stuff and I loved it. I couldn’t let go in the first probably 6 to 12 months. I was running campaigns and I loved it, that thrill of it. But I always remember the moment that I realized I’m not running campaigns, I’m running a business.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

And mindset changes. Your mindset just realizes, “Okay, I need to make money. I need to keep people in jobs. I need to scale this and create processes, ways of working that I sell it once, but I’ll create it once and sell it 10 times. I’ll be able to just do this over and over again.” And that’s when my mindset shifted really as an entrepreneur, understanding, okay, you shift from doing what you are always good at, winning campaigns, doing SEO, pulling digital strategies together, and then to running a business. How do you devise that?

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah. So, I know I found that piece hard personally, from a personal point of view, letting go of the delivery part was… It was personally very hard. And also from a professional point of view, any mistakes felt like they were preventable because I could have done the bloody work. It’s really hard, isn’t it, to let go of some of that?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

It is.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

But I think you have to do it if you’re growing an agency.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, massively. Something that I learnt is hire people that can do the things you can’t. So, I think you should always stay true to what you’re good at and stick to that. And then hire people. I’ve hired COOs. I’m not the greatest at operational stuff, or even an FD, or a CFO, like hire those people that are good at the things that you’re not.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Certainly.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

But yeah, I think the hardest thing for me… Something I found quite interesting is when you do work like SEO, or when you do work like PR or content marketing, you get instant gratification because you know, “Oh, it’s generating results for clients.” So, that is your feel good thing. At the end of the day, you’ve delivered some goods for clients. Well, when you start to drop that, you start to let go of feeling good, because you don’t get that instant gratification.

Okay, the instant gratification you have is keeping people in jobs and it’s making money, and driving sales and revenue, but that’s not on a week or month basis. That’s a real long term thing. So, I think the hardest thing to get moving from doing the work to doing vision and and growing a business is you’ve got to find and celebrate the wins in a different way, because you’re not going to get the graph going up. That’s not going to make you feel good anymore.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Exactly.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

That’s what I noticed in myself.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, I had a guest on a few recordings ago and he said one of the things that he found hardest was to learn to have long horizons. And I think that’s-

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yes.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

… what you’re alluding to there. It’s the fact that you can see the win is a long way away, but you know the win is worth the wait and worth the time, and worth the effort. And quite a lot of building an agency isn’t just going quick. It’s also that traction and consistency, because hiring the right people and keeping them motivated requires traction, and accountability, and consistency. And if you don’t have that, then the wheels start falling off the bus relatively quickly. And you’ve just got to keep going. I’m not going to get my win for another six months, six years, seven years, whatever it might be, but I know it’s coming if I keep this all up. So, it’s quite tough.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, for sure.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, if Rise at Seven was to do some R&D tax credit relief and invent a time machine, and you went back in time to give yourself one piece of advice, the one piece of advice just as you were about to start Rise, what would that piece of advice be?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Ooh… What worked then… So, everything I did in year one of Rise at Seven, I templated things. So, people could just… Have you ever seen Wolf of Wall Street?

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Okay. So, you know there’s that scene where he passes the script and he goes, “Follow this script.”

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Oh, yes. Yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah. So, I did that. I did that in the early days of Rise at Seven where I literally wrote, “This is how I talk to clients. This is how I market the agency. This is how I run strategies. This is how I do an SEO audit.” I basically templated fucking everything, Chris, because I needed to be able to get it out fast. That’s what it was. I needed to be able to go, “Right, if you want to do the level of Steven came right and Carrie rose from day one, just follow the script.”

And what worked then does not work now. And that’s one thing I wish I could tell myself and be open to changing the way that we did things, and that actually change is fucking good. You have to change to be able to grow. And in the early days, you see it working. You’re making money, you’re winning awards, you’re growing as a business. So, you think, “Well, this is working. Why would I want to change?” But actually you need to, you have to, and change is actually the thing that you need to focus on.

So, what I would tell myself is the things that worked then isn’t going to work now and it’s definitely not going to get you to the next thing. And it’s the same with people. This is a horrible kind of realization that I’ve had around building a business of… We’ve got 110 staff now. And I remember we had the first 15 to 20 people and those were people that are my friends. These are people that hopefully one day are going to set off into the sunshine together until we decide to sell this thing. These are the early day risers. And ultimately, one thing I realized is the people also that got me there aren’t going to get me to the next place. You’ve got to be open and accept change.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Absolutely.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

That’s what I would tell myself.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yup. Every agency I ever go into to do any work with them, one of the first things I do is I draw on their… Obviously, they’ve got a whiteboard, because… Next to the bean bag, there’s a whiteboard.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

I draw on the whiteboard a tombstone that says, “We’ve always done it this way.”

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yes.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And I put the death date of that on the date that we are talking.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, exactly.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Because if you think like that, it’s the same as treading water. Eventually, you’re going to get tired and you are going to sink. And if you keep going forward and you keep changing, and you keep adapting based on not just subjective stuff, like does it feel right, is it making an impact? If it isn’t, then you have the parameters set to make some changes.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Do you know what most founders go wrong? It’s their ego. Definitely been there, Chris, definitely been there.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Oh, yeah. Me too.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yup.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

I’ve seen your agency grow as I’ve closed mine down. And I was like, “I thought I had some balls.”

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, yeah. The ego takes over when you’re a founder. And what you know works is also what made you look good, but you have to accept that no longer could make you look good. You could actually be a failure and you could lose everything overnight. I had to tell myself these things. That actually drop the fucking ego, Carrie. What worked and your ideas, and your strategy might not actually be the best one. I started hiring consultants. I hired COOs. I hired CFOs. And all these people said, “Right, you’re doing it wrong.” And I remember the early days thinking, “No, I’m not. I’m doing…”

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, I know best.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah. I made 4 million this year. Like fuck you kind of thing. And then you realize, “Okay, they’re trying to get you to there and what you did then to get you there isn’t going to get you to the next stage.” And that’s what you have to do. Drop the ego, focus on the business, focus on what’s missing in the company. And that’s definitely been a massive learning curve for me, but one that I’ve really enjoyed going through.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, if you had that time machine and you went back, and you gave yourself that advice, would younger Carrie have listened to that advice?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

No.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

No?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Younger Carrie is very rebellious. That’s actually a good thing though. So, the interesting thing, we did a… Oh, what do they call it now? It’s like a personality test.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Oh, yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

We did that for…

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Like a Myers-Briggs, or something like that.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, something like that. So, we did it for myself and Kenwright, my co-founder, and all the risers as well. So, at this time, I think we had about 50 members of staff. So, it was about a year ago, or something like that. So, we had about 50 members of staff, did all these personality tests, because we wanted to find out what haven’t we got. So, we’ve got a lot of balls in Rise at Seven, a lot of creativity, and we have a lot of ego and all these sort of different traits of people. But what haven’t we got?

And one thing that we didn’t really have is people that were hesitant to take risks. We are massive risk takers. And that’s what I guess this risk taker and rebelliousness is something that I’ve always driven in the company. I always have this saying ask forgiveness, not permission. And I tell all of them, even SEOs, developers, just after forgiveness, not permission. But then also I’ve started to hire people are a lot more, yeah, cautious, I guess, is the best word.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

I think that’s necessary in some senses. You need that yin to the yang in an organization, because it keeps your feet on the ground sometimes. And I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to hear no, but sometimes no is actually a good thing.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, it is.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And it’s for your own good to swallow some bad medicine once in a while.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, absolutely.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, is there something that you’ve learned over all of your years in the industry that’s set you up for the success that you’re seeing now?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yes. Overall in the industry, I think one… There’s that saying: is it better to be better, or better to be different?

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

It’s 100% better to be different. I’ll give you some examples of this. So, in the early days of pitching for work, I always remember we walked into Missguided and we was up against… So, I’ll tell you about Missguided. It’s an interesting story. I’ve tweeted about this before, but… So, myself and Stephen was on our own in Rise at Seven. There was two members of staff. And to win Missguided, we needed to look a lot bigger than we were. So, we basically took a few friends to the pitch, pretended that there were staff, but they actually did work in the industry. And we said, “If we win this, we’ll hire them as well.”

But one person we took along was a girl called Thea. And Thea was quite well known in the fashion space because she ended up becoming like a bit of an ASOS star. And yeah, when we walked into that pitch, they already knew that our proposition was different. We was bringing search and brand together basically. And that at Missguided was so much more valuable than other agencies that they were pitching with.

But what really made us stand out is having Thea in the room, because they were like, “Thea, you’re the ASOS girl. Oh, my God. Can you tell us about that stunt?” Blah, blah. Immediately, we looked different. We looked different to the last agency that came in, the SEO agency that pitched a couple of hours before. And that’s when I realized looking different and being different, and having different people in the business is our USP.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Absolutely.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

So, then I scaled that. I scaled that from not only our people, but our brand, the way we market ourselves. Being different is absolutely the thing that makes you win massively.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, yeah. On the other side of the coin, if you look at every single digital agency, almost every single digital agency, sorry, good agencies out there-

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Oh, no, yeah.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

… for the majority of them, if you go onto Google and you search for award winning digital agency, and look at every single one of the websites-

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

They’re all the same.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

… they also say results driven.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Disruptive.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Disruptive. We are an extension of your team. And we have an office dog. All of those sorts of things. And you’ve got all of that there that is this sort of faux differentiation. And your differentiator is one big part of being successful. Part of the rest of that differentiator is having a real reason to believe. And that’s your results and that’s just case studies, and that’s the numbers that you show that happen. And with a real reason to believe and a differentiator, that’s when someone goes, “Wow. Okay. So, that is different. That is different to what… I can believe in this. I have a reason to believe you now.”

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, 100. And it’s worked. I always tell the story of what is Rise at Seven’s proposition and how… So, 100% of clients that we work with to this day came to us. All inbound, no outbound. We don’t do any outbound. We don’t even have a sales team, Chris.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

So, for that to happen, we had something different and people came to us. And that’s what I always tell people is differentiating is one of the biggest things we need to constantly do as well. You can’t just say, “Yeah, we’re…” Never say you’re different. You always have to show it. Never have a slide deck on your pitch or your website saying, “We are different.” You always have to show and tell it. But yeah, I thought this when it come to definitely the SEO industry. I was on a podcast similar to this maybe about a year ago.

And it was with an SEO expert basically. And he was… I wouldn’t say he weren’t a fan of Rise at Seven, but he definitely was grilling me. He was grilling me about the people and you guys seem like… The average age at Rise at Seven is 27 and we have a lot of graduates. We’re doing a lot more creative things on search when it comes to Pinterest and YouTube, and things like that, and Amazon and stuff. And he said, “Is the office just full of kids?” And I always remember that moment and thinking, “What do I do here? Do I back up, or do I back ourselves up? Do I show in favor of having young talent in the industry?”

And at that point, I always remember Stephen came back saying that is our differentiator. We have new young talent coming into the search industry that are bringing innovation, bringing new ideas. But what they do bring is creativity and naiveness really of why not? Let’s try it. They trial things. And that’s what SEO’s all about, trial and failing. And that young people do like to try and fail. So, yeah, we went down this route of having a young workforce and bringing in innovation. And different ways of thinking about search is actually our USP. And I always remember thinking at that time, really being pulled them one way or the other, and I just stuck to it and said, “That is what our differentiator is.”

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah. The thing with these sorts of things is it’s not a differentiator if you buckle to something else and there’s pressure from other people. And quite often, anyone out there who’s got a personal opinion about one agency or another, that’s their opinion.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, literally.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And anyone is welcome to have an opinion. However, as I said to someone yesterday, if you have an opinion on something, if you voice it, you should expect to be challenged on it. And if you can’t be challenged on it, keep quiet. If you can be challenged on it, have a good reason to be challenged on it, because otherwise it’s just being not that nice. Now there’s arguments for growing steadily and slowly. And that’s good and that’s what some agency owners want.

There’s arguments for growing at pace and doing it in certain ways, or other ways. But being true to the purpose of the existence of the business, which is to do different stuff, do it differently, you can’t have 40 plus year olds who worked in house and have a beer belly, and think that they know what they’re talking about because they’ve just been what they call themselves an OG for so long.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Exactly.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

It doesn’t work anymore.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And so whether you like the approach, or you don’t like the approach, it’s the approach and it’s working, so F off.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah. Also, one thing I’ve seen in the agency space, not just SEO, but the agency space overall, so a lot of people have hired in house. They have SEO directors now and they didn’t used to have SEO director. They had an SEO agency. All of these different things have changed where a lot more people have gone in house, or they’ve gone freelance.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yes.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

So, people are struggling when it comes to talent. And one thing I realized is we are the ones that had the talent. We are the ones that had the training of the staff and things like that. And a lot of people hated that. A lot of people hated it in the early days definitely. And you just had to stick to it. And we always said definitely at the beginning of Rise, because we are so different, you’re not going to get… It’s a bit like marmite. You’re lovers or haters. And we have to accept that. There’s some people that won’t like it and some people that will. So, yeah, you just have to realize that, but actually, I’d much rather be different. I’d much rather be different than the same as everybody else, because it really has worked for us.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah. And if it works again, like you said earlier, if it stops working, change it.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, exactly.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, if anyone’s listening to this podcast now and they’re thinking about starting their own agency, and they’re not sure whether to start it, or indeed, they just started the agency and they’re starting to work through things, what one piece of advice would you give them, do you think?

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Oh… Other than focus on sales, because everything else falls into place. Because I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard or listened to. I think the second thing is the destination of where you are going isn’t important. So, where you end up basically… I get asked a lot, “Do you plan on selling Rise at Seven? Do you plan on expanding to Germany? What is it that you ultimately want to be? What’s the reason for Rise?”

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Yeah, yeah.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Destination is not important. The direction is. So, as long as you’re going in the right direction, then your destination might end up being somewhere else. But the direction is the most important thing. I think always having a direction from the beginning and going back to that is so important. Something I’ll tell you, Chris. So, we wrote the business plan and the business plan basically was a direction. That’s what it was. Which way are we going in the industry and what is it that Rise at Seven is going to attract to?

So, I wrote this plan. And then throughout the last two and a half years, as you can imagine, you’re scaling, you’re winning, you’re doing all these fun things, et cetera. You go off plan sometimes. And everything… It’s probably once a quarter I open that plan back up again and I go back to it. And I go, “Okay, let’s go back to that direction. Let’s make sure I’m always on that line.” And that’s one thing that I would advise people to do is write down the direction that you’re going in, not the destination, and stick to it. Review it and make sure, because actually one thing you’ll realize is you was right from the beginning.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Absolutely.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Whether that’s your proposition, or who your target market is, and what the value you’re putting out to the world as a business.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

Spot on. Yup, I totally agree. And what great advice to end the podcast on. So, thanks very much for that. All new agency owners, or aspiring agency owners, take that and stick with it. It is really good to have a direction. And a direction is basically your purpose and the reason for getting out of bed in the morning. And you can stick to that. If you can stick to something like that, then it doesn’t matter necessarily if the goalposts move here or there. The mission can change. The mission is something that isn’t fixed.

It should be fixed to some degree, otherwise the direction constantly flip flops. But you don’t have to say, “In three years time, we’re going to be here with this and that, and the other.” You can say that’s the signposts to success, because you need that. Your stuffy FDs will tell you that. But you’ve still got to have that purpose and that purpose is the direction. That’s the reason everyone gets out of bed in the mornings, turns on bloody Slack. That’s why people do it. So, thanks very much for coming along, Carrie.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Thank you.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And we’ll be talking to you next at the And we have an office Dog live in April.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

Yes.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

So, looking forward to that. Thank you very much.

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝘀𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁):

I’m excited. Thank you.

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁):

And thanks very much for listening, everybody. In the next podcast, we’ll have another different awesome agency owner talking about their experiences and the lessons that they’ve learned along the way. So, thanks very much for listening.

 

Apply as a guest: