Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder of SparkToro, located in Seattle, WA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

SparkToro makes audience research software. Our customers range widely, but most are marketing professionals and product builders seeking to better understand their potential customers' online behaviors and demographics.

Tell us about yourself

I started my first company, Moz, as a blog back in 2003. That business eventually evolved into a consultancy, then a software company, and raised several rounds of venture funding. After stepping down as CEO in 2014, I struggled with the new leadership team and eventually left in 2018 to start SparkToro.

Nowadays, my motivations are less about hypergrowth at all costs to make money for investors and prop up stock options prices and more about delivering great value for customers and a great life for the three of us who work at SparkToro.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

It really depends on who you ask! For me, doing a business that's profitable, enjoyable, functional, and delivers a high-quality product is it. For others, it probably has to do with big numbers from my previous company (employees, revenue, customers, funding -- all that stuff).

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

It's a huge privilege and, in many ways, much easier than being an employee. I struggle when business owners complain about how hard their lives are or how difficult their work is. I know I'll never work as hard as most janitors, schoolteachers, and even retail or fast food employees.

I get to control my work environment, design the life I want to lead, and then build a business to fit those things. I think the only truly difficult piece is making decisions that affect a lot of people and the weight of responsibility if those decisions aren't right.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Before you build your business, build an audience of people who care about the problem you're about to solve. Marketing, product development, and sales are so much easier if you have a caring community.
  2. Don't assume you have to follow an existing path. You can fund your business, design your workday, choose a type of business, and craft a team in so many ways that work for you and the life you want.
  3. Be humble and kind, no matter what. You're not special or better or more deserving than anyone else just because you started a company.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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