Larry Kim is the founder of WordStream, a marketing software company managing approximately a Billion dollars in annual ad spend for over 10 thousand customers. The Boston-based company employs around 200 people and has been among the top 500 fastest growing private companies in America for the last 4 years straight. He developed free tools for Facebook, AdWords and Keyword Research used by over a million marketers worldwide. Larry’s columns about marketing and entrepreneurship on his own blog and at Inc. Magazine are read by millions of readers every month.
Larry keynoted dozens of marketing events and was named "Most Influential PPC Expert" for 2015, 2014 and 2013 by PPC Hero, and recently won the 2015 Top Search Marketer of the Year awards from both the US Search Awards & Search Engine Land.
In this Startup Savant interview, Larry shares how WordStream was born, how he got his first $4 million and built the fastest growing company in America. As you go through the interview, be sure check out the links to his blog for added awesomeness. When you're ready to plug his marketing insight into your daily routine, follow Larry on Twitter!
What motivated you to start WordStream, Inc.? Did you see a way to serve customers better than your competitors?
Laziness. I was an internet marketing consultant doing the same mindless, repetitive search marketing tasks. I wrote some software programs to do the work for me. That became WordStream.
How have your motivations changed since you first started WordStream, Inc.? Is there an area that you have grown most?
Here are the three reasons I started a business:
- To make tons of money
- To make something that could be valuable/useful to other people or businesses
- To create meaningful jobs for people.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? How did you get there?
There are too many to list out. It’s like asking what your proudest moment with your kid was. A couple come to mind:
- Getting my first $4 million dollar outside investment
- Moving into a fancy office
- Winning big awards (too many to list out)
- Getting on National TV
- Becoming a Columnist on Inc. Magazine
- Signing up thousands of customers
- Getting more than 200 employees
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape WordStream, Inc.?
I learned a lot from Rand Fishkin of Moz who shares a ton of valuable information and has been quite inspirational to me.
What’s your most unforgettable experience as an entrepreneur?
The first time I ever went to an industry awards banquet, my wife came and was so proud of me. Unfortunately, some other company won (there were 5 finalists). I was feeling down and wanted to leave but my wife told me to stay because she saw that there was one other final award of the night for an unannounced category. I won that award.
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as a business owner? Do you have any advice for how future entrepreneurs can overcome it?
Couple of ideas here.
Are you using any Apps that help you stay on track every day?
Here are a few I use.
How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
It’s not as bad as you think it might be. For example, I have an admin to help with emails and stuff. And a very capable executive team that runs all aspects of the business.
The only downside is that my job requires some travel every month – my wife is a heart surgeon and we have a 2 year old boy at home, so scheduling is tough. It’s definitely easier to have a larger company vs. a smaller company where you have to do everything yourself. The people who struggle most with work-life balance are the ones who are bad at delegating stuff.
Looking back, what’s one thing you would do differently with WordStream, Inc.? Why would you change it?
I would take even bigger risks/bets.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in Massachusetts? Where should they start?
Start by thinking about your reasons and motivations for wanting to start a business in the first place. Then make sure that the idea you are pursuing is a truly remarkable idea.