What’s your backstory?


I come from very humble beginnings in the UK. I was raised by a single parent who somehow managed to make ends meet but we definitely didn’t have a lot. No one in my family has ever really been successful or created any wealth, and nobody has ever been an entrepreneur. One thing I excelled at when I was younger was sports; it was my passion.


At the age of 7, I started training in the Korean martial art of Taekwondo and that became my life. By my teenage years, was already winning at multiple European and World Championships for England. One time I won a silver medal at a World Championship in Belarus. All of this was a huge part of how I realized that I could really win big when I get older.


Then again, I had to go to school, but like a winner, I didn’t merely accept my situation. Simply because I wanted to make more money, I did some Ebay buy-and-sell with clothing and accessories. It wasn’t long until I realized that university wasn’t for me. I left school and landed my first sales role for an engineering supplier firm. I helped significantly increase the revenue of that small business and I was approached about a role within recruitment (headhunting).


I eventually joined that recruitment firm and delivered stellar results. During my first years I was already billing 6-figures, but I absolutely hated that job. It was so old-school, and they only cared about the calls and the number of hours you did on the phone. You can get fired easily, and the managers didn’t even make us feel like anything more than a call center. I started experimenting with social media and realized that I could be way more productive using its tools to close more deals but make less calls.


When I discovered social media, I made it to a point to apply to LinkedIn or Hootsuite. I jumped through hoops, did several interviews, and finally landed a job at Hootsuite. I was able to improve my social media skills, rub elbows with executives of Fortune 500 companies, and most of all, destroyed my sales targets while I worked there. Such a life-changing experience, if you ask me.


Not long after that, I was approached by Leadfeeder. They were a Helsinki-based SaaS company who wanted someone to lead their growth in the UK and European markets. I accepted the job because it felt exciting and challenging to work for a very promising startup. I contributed to the growth of Leadfeeder too--taking a team of 16 to 40, and hiring employees from LinkedIn, Salesforce, Hootsuite, Google, and Dropbox.


When these results got into several talks around the SaaS world, my name got more traction and I also started doing growth marketing work for other SaaS companies. Then it hit me: it’s time to go solo. Left Leadfeeder in May 2018, and set out to build Hey Digital, my own growth marketing agency that helps other SaaS businesses grow.


What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.


Start building your personal brand from the get go.


Building a personal brand is what’s allowed me to position myself as a leader within my space and has opened the door to so many new opportunities. It’s helped me land speaking engagements, media appearances and most importantly close new business easier and faster.


Pay for mentoring/learning.


You’ll often hear sayings along the lines of “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” or “If you’re the smartest guy in the room then you’re in the wrong room”. But many people find it hard to spend time with more “A players.” In reality it’s simple. If you pay someone for their mentoring or their time, then they will immediately let you in as you are valuing them. This is the best way to learn from those at the top of their game.


Delegate or outsource tasks that aren’t the best use of your time.


I value my own time extremely highly and as a CEO of a growing company I have to prioritize what activities of mine have the highest ROI and provide the most value to my team. Too many business owners and people in general are wasting time on menial, administrative tasks. This is a poor use of time. I outsource and delegate as many tasks as possible so that I can spend my time on the most important things. You can outsource so much now, things like proposal sending, call scheduling, email admin, bookkeeping, content creation, travel booking etc. Don’t veer away from your zone of genius and keep producing high quality work there.


Don’t be afraid to lose.


If you are scared of losing before making decisions, then you’ll never make the decision. It’s fine to lose, it’s actually totally normal. This is how you learn, and that’s what business is, really. At the end of the day, we are all just “winging it”, but the more shots we take, the higher our chances are at winning. But yes, we lose. We lose sometimes. And that’s okay. Losses can help you rebalance and improve next time.


Lead into all decisions with your core values in mind.


This one is really prevalent for me right now. As I’m growing Hey Digital it’s really important that we work with clients who have values that align with ours and that we’re clear about this from the beginning. This can help stop so many roadblocks and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Published by john paret