Manoj Tomar is the president and founder of Amplimark, a hybrid branding and digital marketing agency based in West Des Moines, Iowa. Over the past 23 years, Manoj has worked in different roles ranging from application design, data architecture, to project management and business management.
In his current role, Manoj (equipped with an MBA in marketing from University of Iowa Tippie School of Business) works with clients across multiple industry segments to develop branding and marketing strategies.
In this Startup Savant interview, Manoj shares his insight on being a successful business owner and what it really takes to start a business. He also shares the competitive edge of Amplimark and the difference it can make in the industry.
His biggest piece of advice to entrepreneurs facing failures:
It is okay to accept the failure and move on to the next thing but no matter what you do, make sure it isn’t going to fail for lack of efforts on your part.
To know more about Manoj and how Amplimark makes a difference in the branding industry, follow him on Twitter!
What motivated you to start Amplimark? Did you see a way to serve customers better than your competitors?
I started Amplimark to accomplish two goals – provide professional branding and marketing solutions to small to medium-sized businesses at an affordable price and bridge the gap between traditional and digital marketing agencies.
Most businesses evolve over time. Is there a way that you slowly evolved the mission of Amplimark to serve your customers better?
Every growing business evolves and Amplimark is no exception. While the overall mission hasn’t change, we have refined our methodologies and how we serve our customers in a most efficient way.
How do you get ideas for your design projects (e.g. Logo Design & Web design) and SEO/SEM projects? Is there a type of marketing that has worked amazingly for Amplimark?
We have always focused on quality rather than quantity. We do only limited number of projects every year and that allows us to seek out businesses with unique challenges across different industry verticals. Given the nature of our business, digital marketing has worked rather well for us.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? What was the biggest thing you did you get there?
When we first started, most of our business was transactional. In last few years, Amplimark has transformed into a relationship-based business where clients value our reputation and trust our expertise. To accomplish this, we had to make sure we delivered consistent excellent customer experience.
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape Amplimark?
Quite a few people along the way. I am a firm believer that the key to success isn’t knowing what you do well, but rather able to acknowledge what you’re not good at and then surround yourself with people who compliment your skillset. At Amplimark, we have always hired people for attributes and then trained them for skills. This has worked well for us.
Do you feel like writing a business plan or having some sort of plan in place when starting a business is important?
Business plans can help when you’re trying to raise capital but having a mentor is more valuable to get over the critical mass. A business plan is useless if you cannot execute on it and execution is where you’ll benefit having someone who has been there before.
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as a business owner? Do you have any advice for how future entrepreneurs can overcome it?
Having too many balls in the air. Often times, entrepreneurs tend to take on tasks that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I have been guilty of this as well. My advice would be to find capable people and let them run with it. Hire competent people and learn to trust them and do not micromanage.
How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
Being an entrepreneur means 24x7 thinking about “what's next.” This could weigh on your personal life if you aren’t able to find a balance between life and work. I make an effort every day to find time to unplug myself from my work to focus on friends and family.
We’re huge believers of every entrepreneur keeping their business’ finances under control. How do you keep Amplimark books in check?
Most startups don’t fail because their ideas aren’t good, they fail because they run out of money. As an entrepreneur, it is critical to have a good handle of business’ finances. I’d recommend learning the basic financial concepts to make sure you are able to comfortably work with folks who do numbers such as CPAs, financial and tax planners.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in Iowa? Where should they start?
Starting a business is hard and it is even harder to get it past growing pains. Often times, it is okay to accept the failure and move on to the next thing but no matter what you do, make sure it isn’t going to fail for lack of efforts on your part.