The spirit of small business is raw and innocent conversation that leads to ideas that are put into action.
James Harper (Founder of GoEdison) and I have been friends for a long time; we’re approaching a 15-year milestone before too long. We found our friendship through shared obstacles. In my experience, nothing bonds two people faster than reciprocal pain. Let’s just say we both know the harsher side of reality in a highly correlated way. The blessing of these obstacles are bonds like ours; it’s the cycle of life.
Through the years, we’ve learned each other’s quirks and – more importantly – each other’s gifts. James is great at seeing the opportunities in things and people. I’m good at seeing the dangers in things and people. Haha…
We have a Ying-Yang thing going on, and we definitely see one another’s blind spots. Also, we work better together than separately – like two road bikers who create slipstreams to complete grueling long rides much faster together than they would alone.
I mention all this because we founded a business together as a result of trust and faith in one another, which should be the foundation of any business. Alluding to the very first sentence, we were having raw and innocent conversation on my front porch late at night (PG-rated I’m sure) that had all kinds of ideas flying around, which is common for us. However, something powerful happened this time; James said to me: “We should start a business.”
For those who know me well, before answering this question, they would expect me to run an elaborate statistical analysis on at least one spreadsheet, carve-out a pro-con analysis, meditate on it all for several weeks, begin a market analysis after that, then an analysis of the competition, etc.
Instead, almost without knowing I was saying it, I responded without hesitation, “Let’s do it.”
Thus, the potential energy of the idea was transitioning into the kinetic energy known as ACTION.
What started as a friendship, became a mutual respect predicated on trust and humility that led to a conversation that sprung an idea that became a business. For those of us who love business for the sake of business and/or have started a business, the moment our stories go from ideas into action is magical. This story is what inspired me to write this. Like a photograph – where if we don’t snap the shot, to everyone else, it “didn’t happen” – I wanted to write about GoEdison’s story, as a metaphorical photograph of our GoEdison chapter.
Skipping ahead almost exactly four years, we sold GoEdison.
Selling a business is nearly impossible without significant growth in a short amount of time. Even then, if you’re into statistics, your chances are less than 10%. I won’t say how much less than 10%, but it’s something that requires not only growth, but timing of the right people wanting the same things at the same time – agreeing on the terms with the other side of the deal before someone else offers something potentially better than you’re able to offer. In the information age, you can’t hide from competition; the data is everywhere like water finding the cracks.
It’s important to note that by “we” I’m referring to James, Lish (James’s wife), myself, and Shawna. Shawna is my wife. Like James, she knows my quirks, but she also knows my favorite everything, my ego, my next thought, how to make me do things I don’t even know she made me do, and – you get the point. Shawna knows me better than I know myself, which is terrifying (for her), but it was great for GoEdison. I’m sure the other James – who won the thumb war for “James” on the business cards (I resorted to my nickname, “Jimbo”) – would agree Shawna navigated both of our quirks quite well, which overlapped more often than not. James and I are both a “little” ADHD. So, Shawna gets the GoEdison award for patience, which I’ll call the “white knuckle” award. At times, she protected GoEdison from James and I. Haha…
James’s wife, Lish, was there in the very beginning when we were still second-guessing many things. Lish always gave us confidence when we needed it, which was often in the beginning, and necessary periodically as we continued to grow. Lish’s wisdom and instincts were valuable in our meetings and brainstorming sessions – especially when we were overthinking things.
Shawna’s involvement was a turning point for the business when James and I realized GoEdison was experiencing growing pains that could only be mitigated with more hands on deck. Shawna was the sealant that found the cracks in our pavement. Wherever we needed stabilization – no matter how mundane it would sometimes be – she gladly rolled up her sleeves and provided assistance when it was needed. We needed to grow and I can’t imagine it happening as well as it did with anyone else.
Last, after we outgrew our three-person team, we needed more help as we continued to grow. After a significant amount of candidates, we found Tiffany Rhys, Ashley Andrien, and Andrew Rice, which completed the team we had before our sale. Andrew Rice gave GoEdison a one-two punch of website development expertise and client correspondence – a rare hybrid in that realm. Before Andrew, we benefitted from the website development expertise of Connor Storer – who fell on the sword for us in the beginning when it was only James and I. Without Connor, we wouldn’t have made it to Andrew!
Tiffany and Ashley created an impossible choice when we were thinking about bringing in a single person, so we did what any indecisive group does: we hired them both! Thank God we did, because our success after Tiffany and Ashley is difficult to envision without them. We learned the importance of people in business, but – most importantly – good people. Tiffany and Ashley showed us new ideas and pathways we wouldn’t have benefitted from otherwise. Also, they created an energy that was an intangible asset that helped build the culture every healthy business has, and they continue to work with GoEdison.
GoEdison: Passing the Torch
GoEdison sold officially on November 13, 2019.
James, Lish, Shawna, and I met Joel and Gary Allen that day after many phone calls and email exchanges beforehand – not to mention the presence of our brilliant broker, Roger Smolik.
We can’t imagine a universe where we were approached by better people who’d make GoEdison even better in the future. Not only was our process enjoyable, smooth, and constructive – but they’re the epitome of integrity and the American dream.
Joel Allen is the CEO of GoEdison. He decided to move forward with the GoEdison brand after purchasing the business. Joel operates out of Tennessee, but has many roots in Colorado. He brings a conscientiousness to the digital marketing industry that is rare, indeed.
Joel operates with the mindset of helping businesses achieve enhanced success and visibility. The success of GoEdison is predicated on others’ success. Joel instinctively was fluent in the idea that others’ success equates to the success of the business. I could sense the genuineness in Joel and Gary; they’re the quintessential people I think of when I think about business in our country and what made us who we are.
As a result of the fragility of clients in any acquisition, James and I weren’t able to publicly discuss passing the GoEdison torch until April – at the earliest. As we know, the country and world at-large looks much different than 2019 with COVID-19 happening in 2020. People have been affected in a multitude of ways and many things have changed.
With that being said, many things haven’t changed.
What hasn’t changed is the need for GoEdison. In fact, these times probably call for GoEdison more than before. GoEdison’s model is predicated on the idea that a team of people who eat, sleep, and breathe marketing will do more for far less money than any staffed marketing employee – let alone a staffed team. Few would argue that a business can succeed or experience significant success without marketing themselves. Further, most business owners would say they’re too busy operating to worry about their marketing. Therefore, there’s a need for marketing. So, the only remaining question is this: Where does it come from?
Is the marketing coming from inside the business or is it going to be trusted outside the business? This question is very important because the answer sends ripples that go much farther from there. Businesses are founded on ideas and expertise that shouldn’t be interrupted unnecessarily by clutter. If certain essentials can be delegated – allowing the core business to retain focus where it matters – maximum efficiency is achieved while minimizing costs.
This is why GoEdison exists.
How much does it cost to hire someone – just one person – in 2020?
Few people with years of experience, who’re experts at their craft, would work for anywhere near $40,000/year. However, suppose we used a hypothetical $40,000 salary, which we know is pushing the realms of reality. That same salary would be the equivalent of $3,333 per month. This doesn’t include benefits and the many other incidental costs of hiring a single employee given the reality of personnel in the current age.
For the sake of emphasis, it’s unlikely this hypothetical employee would work for a $40,000 salary at the skill level a business owner would expect to handle their business’s marketing. However, this expense is more than possible with a team of experts that eats, sleeps, and breathes marketing and nothing but marketing. The key word is team.
GoEdison focuses on quality lead-generation, maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the industry to avoid ineffective and obsolete tactics, and implementing proven strategies with streamlined processes to integrate these strategies into a business. Therefore, the business working with GoEdison can spend more time on what they’re the best at.
In today’s times, I’m confident GoEdison is positioned as an even more essential solution than they were before. Businesses can’t afford to focus on anything other than what they were founded on – not when there’s a solution out there, like GoEdison, that focuses on the marketing demands more efficiently and cheaper than internal staff can achieve. Whether it’s a lawyer/firm, a dental practice, or a medical billing company, those companies are in business to sell the services they’ve become masters at; they’re the experts in their field.
I don’t give myself a root canal; I go to a dentist for that because I’m no expert. I don’t represent myself in a legal case; I get a lawyer for that. I look at marketing the same way. Some would say this comparison is an exaggeration. I say it’s the opposite.
The biggest danger of marketing is that it gives the illusion of something “others can do themselves.” I immediately think of watching someone try to sing on American Idol – only to crash and burn in front of famous singers who’re painfully combing through the early rounds of aspiring singers.
I watched GoEdison’s metaphorical version of the early rounds of American Idol where companies were winging it with their marketing. Honestly, this was probably more painful because – rather than having an embarrassing 5-10 minutes – these companies had very expensive and lackluster results spanning months and, more likely, years. They wished they chose help sooner. The realization of lost money and – even worse, lost time – is a painful realization. The key is to start being better and stop losing time.
We will need to be better as we exit the strange beginning of 2020 and enter the latter half into future years. The savings and – more importantly, enhanced revenues – will be worth it.
I hope everyone finds the marketing they deserve and desperately need as we return to normalcy in 2020 and beyond. Focus your time on what you do best.
In our digital age, as we see the new norm with telecommuting and the rest, GoEdison’s model – in many ways – is the future.