Hey, I'm Martin SFP and I run Big Revolution, a boutique agency helping tech companies with their communications strategy. That can be PR, branding, and making sure that they're telling the right story about what they do. A lot of the companies I work with have great tech, but when it comes to describing and framing it in terms of putting it to market in an interesting way, they need a little help. Often you can get to that simply by talking to them. Once you understand where they're coming from, putting it into words is a lot easier. It's also a vehicle for all the other things I do as well like my YouTube channel and newsletter.

Getting My Business Started

I went through life working in various jobs, then started a career as a tech journalist and built my way up through that. I realized that what I was constantly doing while I was working for a company was asking for permission to do extra things. I noticed that I was much better and more comfortable doing my own thing and leading my own path rather than being an employee. That's not to say I'll never be an employee ever again, but it would have to be the right role at the right company. At the moment I feel a lot happier doing my own thing. So at some point, I decided it was time. It's now or never. Let's do it. Let's start.

How Does Big Revolution Work?

I don't try to cajole companies into going on retainer if they don't need it. I think especially if you look at the PR side of things, a lot of tech companies, especially startups are pushed into these long-running retainer agreements. But the fact is that a lot of the time if you're a B2B tech startup, the press is generally going to be interested when you've got something to announce, which is around funding or that kind of news. So I tend to work more in short bursts with companies. There are companies I work with on a long-term basis if that's what they need, but really it's down to client needs rather than what I need. You could say that isn't the best way to grow a business, but I'd rather grow a business the right way for my clients than the right way for me.

Being A Business Owner During Covid

At first, I was worried, obviously. I think everyone was worried in March when suddenly everything stopped. We had to put things on hold. I was lucky that some people wanted to carry on with what they were doing around that time. People started to realize that tech companies could continue doing a lot of what they do. And in many cases, there's more demand so I've kept busy through the year. Although there are definitely opportunities that have either been delayed indefinitely or put on ice, at the same time, lots of new things have come through.

Growing My Business

I prefer the gradual building up of the business through having a name, a reputation, and people knowing who I am and growing connections by being referred through word of mouth. When I had a quiet patch for a week or two, I decided to start a YouTube channel. So I keep busy. That's when I started reaching out to more clients. But generally, it's about word of mouth and natural growth.

Simplicity As A Productivity Hack

I think people can overthink productivity and use loads of different tools. I like simplicity. So I have a Trello board with my long-term projects on. Then for day-to-day things with little bits of all these different projects get done in a simple text document. It's a Google keep document. I've got a list for each day of the week.

Social Media Tips From An Ex-Journalist

It's really down to consistency, passion, and focus for what you share and talk about. When I was a tech journalist, I was publishing tech news every day. I was one of the people who was talking about it first. And so people follow me for that.

I think a great example of someone who's doing it really well is Matt Nevarra. He's a social media consultant. And I do a podcast and newsletter with him called Geek-out with Mike Navarro. We interview social media executives from big companies and figures in the social media world. What I like about his approach is that he is consistently on social media. Whether it's Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, he is posting every day all sorts of social media news. It's his passion. That's part of the reason he can be so consistent.

That being said, I wouldn't recommend being always on. When I was a journalist, I would constantly be looking for updates every day, seven days a week to make sure we'd never miss a thing. It was draining. Now I have a pinned tab with TweetDeck. It's an app made by Twitter with a more convenient display. That's how I stay updated.

If you don't have a lot of time, but you still want to share things throughout the day, use something like Buffer which has scheduling built into it. That obviously means you're not immediately engaging with anyone who might reply to those posts, but at least it gets your face on there through the day.

Keeping A Work-Life Balance

For me, it's easier in the COVID-19 world to find balance. It's easier for me to very strictly say it's time to stop and go do family stuff. I might need to do a bit of work later on, but because there's less travel involved, it's a lot easier to manage my time.

I also feel that having an hour and a half lunch, rather than one hour seems to work better for me. If I don't have too much work, it helps pace out my day a bit more. Taking time to do nothing is important as well.

Who and What Keeps Me Inspired

I like people who have a passion and stick with it. People who might get knocked back but still push forward. One person who comes to mind is Christian Reber and the people who started Wunderlist about 10 years ago. They launched it, got acquired by Microsoft, but ended up getting shut down. And eventually, they built Pitch.

Someone else that comes to mind is Elon Musk. I think people pay too much attention to the things he says. You should look at what he does. He does a lot of very good things, but people listen to him too much. He's also a bit of an internet troll and talks a lot of rubbish as well. So focus on what he does rather than what he says.

And I would say don't read too many business books. They can be useful, but if everyone reads the same business books, you get groupthink. Take inspiration from elsewhere. Be interested in the world. Be interested in far more beyond entrepreneurship. For example, an interesting book about how the world works is actually about politics. Haven't You Heard...? by Marie Le Conte is about political gossip and the way that UK politics is shaped by relationships. Who drinks at which bars, who's friends with who, etc. Once you see just how much that kind of below the surface interactions influences politics, you realize that actually, that's the way the world works beyond politics as well.

Advice On Starting Your Own Business

Just do it and don't worry about it. Stop thinking there's a definite way to do everything. There isn't, so find your own way. For awhile what scared me off was thinking that I'd get something wrong or that there would be a wrong way of doing things. You just have to get on and sort it out yourself.

Embarrassing Work Fails

I remember chairing a panel about a topic that I didn't really understand, which was quite a deep tech thing. And it was fine because although I normally wouldn't chair a panel about something I didn't understand deeply myself, on this occasion, it was just a favor. And so I was sitting there thinking, this is going to be easy because the audience will have questions. It's a very hardcore technical audience. They understand this topic very well. The panelists too.

The first problem was two of the four panelists didn't turn up. So we had two panelists and it turned out that they were the least talkative people I've ever been on stage with. So I asked the first question and they answered it in about a sentence each. I asked the second question. It was over in about 30 seconds tops. I asked the audience if they had any questions but they were completely silent. We wrapped up a half-hour slot in about five minutes.

I think the whole remote work thing is going to continue. Even as people start to go back to offices, I think that it's just a fact of life that people like to do some work from home now. It will be interesting to see which model of blending home and office works best because I think that companies will try different things. What I find most interesting is the kind of tech tools we'll see. For example, Slack and Zoom have been very popular, but there are a million little things they don't do, problems they don't quite solve for people. So there will be loads of different services that will emerge.

Where To Reach Martin & Big Revolution

You can find me on Twitter and @thebigrev

Martin originally spoke with Jonny for 'The Go Solo Show' - you can listen to and watch the full recording here...

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