Steve Hooper is the founder and CEO of Site Geek; a website design and digital marketing company this is dedicated to providing companies with ‘full and complete solutions to their inbound marketing requirements’. Having built the company from nothing to the success it is today by being extremely client-focused, Steve now feels that he’s in the position to focus some of the company’s time on developing Site Geek itself and taking the business to the next level - and this reinvigorated motivation fuelled his desire to become a member of the IOEE. This month we chatted to Steve about embarking on this exciting new chapter, staying accessible, and finding that elusive work-life balance.
Before setting up Site Geek, Steve had built up a wealth of experience in website design and digital marketing. Steve says:
“I’ve been involved in the design and promotion of websites since BG - i.e. Before Google! I was there back in the day when it was all Yahoo! and Ask Jeeves, and people were generating web traffic by stuffing trending words and phrases into sites - so you’d find copy jammed with ‘Britney Spears’ all over the place! I’ve been there on the journey and seen the evolution of SEO, and this gives me a greater understanding of how it all works today.”
Steve ran numerous digital marketing companies that have done extremely well, and has a rich and varied portfolio of success stories, with everything from the design and promotion of gambling websites to SEO specialisation in the wedding industry, until taking the plunge and setting up his own business 2009:
“It’s been fantastic - to take the company from absolutely nothing to it being this successful - but now that I’ve reached a level of doing reasonably well, it’s almost just the beginning. I’m now in the position where I can afford to focus a bit of time on myself and the company. Yes, I need to work in the company, but I also need to work on the company.
“When you’re in the throes of building your business from nothing, it’s really difficult to find the time to spend time on promoting yourself, when you have clients and work coming in - so you’re basically helping other people to do it, but not doing it for yourself! So I started looking into mentoring and organisations that could help me grow, and wanting to take the business to the next level is what led me to become a member of the IOEE - to build a relationship with an organisation that’s supporting entrepreneurs. I really wanted to give myself a push.”
In an ever-growing market of website design companies and SEO specialists, Steve says that Site Geek’s branding and style is deliberately relaxed and accessible, and this helps to set it apart from other digital marketing companies:
“We’re very much relaxed for a reason. People can read our website without being overloaded with technical jargon; they can understand it all and relate to it. Everyone with a website needs this sort of service, so we need to stay on an accessible and engaging level - we’re not a firm of guys who’ll be marching into your company in suits and telling you a load of facts and figures. Once you start saying to people ‘we need to alter this bit of coding on this page of your website’, you can see you lose them. Something that I’m a firm believer in is keeping it simple.
“Honesty and transparency is at the heart of Site Geek. Site Geek is about ‘building businesses - not just websites’. What we offer is a 360-degree marketing experience. We take people from the very initial stages, through the entire journey, to the point that they’re thriving and getting reviews. We’re not about saying ‘this is SEO… this is how much it will cost… you’re in the big wheel of the digital world now, and we’ll send you a report every month. We work with our clients, and it’s a case of guiding them through the whole experience.”
Steve says that, for him personally, a large part of this new company chapter is about finding that elusive work-life balance, and he says that the two are equally important in achieving professional success - ensuring that he has the balance right on the ‘life’ side enables him to push forward in the ‘work’ side and grow the business:
“I was once renowned for being the guy who could get by on three hours sleep… not anymore! Sure, I could do that - but then I’m useless for three days afterwards! Of course, it can be idealistic to keep it down to 40 hours per week when you’re growing a business - sometimes if you want to be successful, you have to put in that extra time - but I’m in my forties now and I’ve just got married, and it’s time to be a bit more balanced with everything.”
As Site Geek has grown over recent years, Steve has found his role as CEO evolving from running the company to being a figurehead that is invited to talk at prestigious digital conferences, and he says that variety is one of the privileges of his job:
“Two years ago, I was turning up to these events as an unknown fresh face in the digital world, and now I’m being invited to talk at huge events in all sorts of industries - two days in this job are rarely the same. Later in the year I’m talking at the Farm Business Innovation Show, and I’m on the same bill as Michael Eavis - founder of the Glastonbury Festival! I’ll be there for two days, talking to landowners who are wanting to capitalise on their land and bring in more money, and advising them on how they can use their websites to attract more clients.
“The next year looks set to be big for Site Geek, and I’m excited to embark on this new chapter of pushing forward. One of my main targets it to help 1000 companies grow within the next five years - yes, it’s a huge target, but I absolutely know that we’re going to get there.”
To find out more about Site Geek, please visit www.sitegeek.co.uk