Daniel Reilly of Ruler Analytics: “Avoid distractions and novelties!”

Avoid distractions and novelties! Allocate your time to improving your knowledge, physical health, and building relationships. Nothing else really matters: This is true both personally and professionally. Ideally, you’ll be given the time and resources to develop yourself in your career. But we always encourage a work-life balance. Happy employees lead to happy customers, which leads […]

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Avoid distractions and novelties! Allocate your time to improving your knowledge, physical health, and building relationships. Nothing else really matters:

This is true both personally and professionally. Ideally, you’ll be given the time and resources to develop yourself in your career. But we always encourage a work-life balance. Happy employees lead to happy customers, which leads to happy profits.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Reilly.

Daniel Reilly has over 11 years of experience in managing, developing, and growing businesses in the agency and SaaS sectors. In 2012, Daniel and business partner Ian found a gap in the market after a few years in the digital marketing space and so created their own marketing attribution software, Ruler Analytics. Daniel supports business development, partner relations, and more, most recently helping Ruler become an official technology partner of Google.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve always been interested in building relationships with people and helping others from a young age. I think it is in my nature to solve problems so getting to know people, understanding their needs, and introducing them to resources and people who could help has always been a natural fit. I have always thrived on meeting new people. My two main interests looking back as a young men were sport and business. Movies, TV shows, and books about entrepreneurs and business people have always been a firm favorite. At 19 I moved to the United States to attend University and studied Business and Economics, played sports for the university, and joined a fraternity — I was involved in a lot of different groups, communities, and activities whilst studying for my undergraduate degree.

In my studies, I frequently heard rhetoric around businesses underserving their customers. I’d always liked the idea of running my own business, so ensuring a client-first attitude was a value instilled early on in my journey.

After finishing my studies, I partnered up with my friend, Ian. Since graduating, we had both gained experience working on PPC and digital marketing projects for large media agencies. We kept stumbling across issues with reporting back to clients. Our data wasn’t as robust as we thought it could be.

By trying to solve problems in measurement and reporting return on investment from the client work we were doing we started investing our profits into the development of new tools and methods of measuring the effectiveness of what we were doing for clients. Years of hard work, more problem solving and a lot of technical headaches led us to what became our very own SaaS company, Ruler Analytics.

To be honest, it wasn’t something I ever thought we would fall into, but I’m glad that we did. Working on Ruler has been a real learning curve. There’s no manual to creating your own tech company! Now, I work on business development, connecting with relevant contacts in our industry to grow our client base. Particularly overseas as the North American market is mature and is a great growth territory for us.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

When we first started in SEO and PPC, we found ourselves reporting in the usual style using tools such as Google Analytics, etc. We were tracking the usual suspects: clicks, impressions, conversions, that sort of thing.

But we quickly found, particularly for our B2B clients, that we weren’t getting the full picture. While we were tracking form submissions, we couldn’t definitively prove any conversion via form was a result of our PPC campaign. And for many of our B2B clients, we found their leads often converted via inbound call or live chat too. These were two conversion routes we weren’t able to track.

Customer journeys are long. It’s highly unusual for a potential customer to see a blog or an ad and convert for the first time, so we knew the impact of our work wasn’t being accurately measured.

We investigated solutions but didn’t ever find one that was innovative enough. So, we decided to create our own. And that’s how Ruler was born.

In your opinion, were you a natural-born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I still don’t think I am an entrepreneur. I think I just like helping people solve problems. For us, that has meant solving the age-old problem of marketing and advertising attribution. I know and have met many entrepreneurs and have found they were often seeking opportunities to make money more than anything else. Perhaps my business partner and I aren’t entrepreneurs at all, but just business owners? We want to provide a high-value service and/or product for businesses and we know that businesses will pay in perpetuity if we serve them well.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

I wouldn’t be anywhere without my business partner Ian, he’s my best pal and I trust his judgment. We work really well together as we have different personalities, which when put together, makes for a pretty well-rounded package!

We always wanted to start a business together, but it is very difficult to find people you can trust and have similar long-term objectives as you. Ian’s domain expertise is excellent and he is great at the operational side of things.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Although we have 100’s of clients globally, the Ruler business is still a relatively small scale-up based in the UK. We are a small enough organization that everyone in the business knows each other, there is a very little disconnect between founding principles and current operations, this means that our customer service goes above and beyond and what you get from the big corporations. Our clients are our lifeblood. We have a customer success team on hand to help customers no matter what the issue. And we go beyond that too.

We have a long way to go and have an ever-evolving product roadmap — we are making iterative improvements and building new solutions continually. We don’t ever believe our product is ‘fine as is’. We always want to improve. Primarily for our customers. So, if they need a particular feature or are missing something that we can deliver, we’ll work to do that. We love getting feedback. It’s what helps us become a better product and a better fit for our customers.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Patience: It has taken us 5 years to achieve what a younger less realistic version of myself thought could be done in 1 year!

For us, becoming a Google partner was high on our to-do list. It’s not an easy process though and although it took a while (and a lot of patience) it has been so worth the wait. It’s rare that Google deals with someone at a partner level who doesn’t have direct control over ad spend, so it highlights the power of Ruler when it comes to paid advertising and optimization. Our contacts at Google have been fantastic, and it’s such an amazing resource for us to tap into. Working together on this project just gives us so much hope for our future and what’s to come.

Selective listening: There are always people who tell you it cannot be done, those people typically don’t have a better suggestion on how to achieve things either. Ignore the naysayers!

During my studies, as was expected at university when studying business, I was surrounded by others who were set on opening a business. It’s hard to close off the negativity because you do feel like a small fish in a big pond. Having a positive attitude and believing in yourself goes a long way though, and I’m proud I didn’t listen to those who said it couldn’t be done.

Frugality: I think it is critical to allocate resources efficiently, there is zero need for lifestyles to creep or to allocate resources to unproductive items or activities.

For us, we’re strict with how we use our resources to grow. We’re not interested in fast unsustainable growth. We want to grow at a pace where we continue to give the best possible service to our customers.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Plenty of times I’ve been given advice like “speculate to accumulate”. I don’t ever see the need to speculate. Always avoid the downside and allocate resources based on quality data. I try to ignore dogmatic clichéd phrases like this as they’re just not useful.

A lot of VC-backed start-ups get the advice to spend and raise more money continually to achieve super growth and escape velocity — this is only relevant for the rarest handful of marketplaces. Sustainable and surplus generating growth is a much better way, surely!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Listening. It’s a fundamental part of running a successful business. But it’s often overlooked. Striving and pushing for success is key, but it can’t be at the expense of your employees. Listen to their needs and do your best to fulfill them. Give them opportunities to grow, learn and develop. It’s not a surprising concept but happy employees work much better, so not only is it key for you in order to become a good business leader, but it’s also to your advantage to do so.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

I think it is important to be authentic. I see too many people proclaiming with absolute certainty that their idea or philosophy is the correct way — I’d like to see more humility and an understanding that you don’t know what you don’t know. Broadcast your thoughts and current message by all means but do it in a way that shows that your opinions are a work in progress!

Everyone is keen to jump on trends and the latest buzz in contemporary thought, I think most problems are far more nuanced than most ‘experts’ claim.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

In the current climate, thoughts are highly polarised. But this isn’t anything new. While you might feel like you’re an expert in your field, there’s nothing quite like collaboration. You can learn so much from other people.

Engage in polite, civil discourse and be transparent on your success, your failures, and your experiments.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Paying themselves too much! Spending too much on speculative initiatives! Not building a big enough surplus to support the salaries of staff and supply chain for at least 2 years. Many business leaders try to play the part too much as opposed to building sustainably and in a frugal manner.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

There’s a lot of risks involved when owning and running a business. A regular 9–5 job isn’t comparable because you can switch off at the end of the day. As a business owner, you’re always on. Whether it’s looking for opportunities on social in your spare time or watching the news for anything that could impact you, you’re completely exposed as a business owner. And with that comes responsibility too. While your employees are a great resource for getting jobs done, they don’t have as much invested as you. It’s up to you to manage each thread and ensure you’re on the right track, in every single way.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

To a small degree I feel very high each day as we engage new clients/customers, this REALLY excites me and I feel very grateful for each new business that we onboard each day.

The problem is if you allow yourself to feel too high with the micro-successes then you expose yourself to the opposite too! I think we need to learn to not congratulate ourselves too much or berate ourselves too much either!

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

By week 2 of March 2020, it was evident that the world was a very uncertain place, what we had spent 10 years building and the work our clients and customers have done in their own businesses/organizations was also in jeopardy. It was an uncomfortable time as a business owner and was a great lesson in being pragmatic when it comes to managing elements in and out of your control.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

Thankfully we weren’t too badly affected but because of the connected nature of the economy, some of our clients felt the pain that they were unfairly exposed to, as a part of their supply chain we felt that too.

In order to bounce back, you need to be able to adjust, stay flexible and commit to building an anti-fragile business in the future.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

1 . Get lost in the process and not too attached to a destination:

We’ve always been quite laid back with where we want to take our business. We have ideas but we don’t tie ourselves to them. Instead, we’ve put our product, and our clients first and allowed them to direct our sails.

It’s made us more open, more collaborative, and more successful, I think.

2 . Surround yourself with good quality people. Folks with excellent ethics, morals, and people who are open-minded and strong:

This is true for your circle of friends as well as for colleagues. I’m lucky to have a close circle of friends who support and motivate one another in whatever endeavor they’re pursuing. For Ruler, we work hard to employ the right people. People come before profits so we try hard to create a working environment talented people will enjoy and give them the room and space to innovate and grow.

It’s worked out quite well for us so far!

3 . Be useful to other people:

There’s no harm in helping. Too often I see people asking for money or a deal from helping someone. We always try to help people solve their problems, first. The product comes second.

And if the product isn’t a good fit, we’ll tell you. It’s a waste of our customers’ time, and a waste of our time, to sign up a customer that will churn in a few weeks or months. But in that discovery period, we will tell leads exactly what’s going to work best for them. Our experience in marketing gives us the edge as we can provide real solutions.

4 . Be frugal, do not let your lifestyle increase with the increase in your companies revenues or dividends:

We don’t ever get carried away here at Ruler. We prioritize our spending to chase steady, sustainable growth as opposed to growing too quickly to keep up with.

5 . Avoid distractions and novelties! Allocate your time to improving your knowledge, physical health, and building relationships. Nothing else really matters:

This is true both personally and professionally. Ideally, you’ll be given the time and resources to develop yourself in your career. But we always encourage a work-life balance. Happy employees lead to happy customers, which leads to happy profits.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is being strong in the face of adversity. But it’s more than just that. It’s being able to spring back and use difficult times as learning curves.

I think resilient people are generally motivated, strong-minded, and thinkers. They plan and have a good ability to foresee outcomes of actions ahead of time. But there are those who are also just intuitively resilient. They might have a strong work ethic that lets them bounce back, or perhaps they’re strongly motivated.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

In my younger years, I was picked out for being fairly talented in golf. I was encouraged to pursue a career in the sport, but it ended up not working out. Ultimately, I put my whole childhood and youth into the pursuit of something I failed at. Having an all-out failure by the age of 21 means you learn to be resilient, quickly.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

Yes, I think it is important to always work to achieve a daily marginal gain. Enjoy the process and try and improve in a tangible way each day.

Difficult situations are a test, a hurdle, to overcome and grow from. So like most people I always try to keep positive in the face of adversity.

I think regaining perspective is key to staying positive in difficult situations. Covid has been one long difficult situation for many people and for many reasons. Navigating a business through this time has just been about gaining perspective. To be able to have flourished during this difficult time is achievement enough.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact on both their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Positivity is infectious. Having a positive outlook and a can-do attitude is a great motivator to a team. For leaders, in particular, being positive is key. Positivity tends to mean you’re well invested in your product, your team, and your customers. This results in a few things.

  1. Being invested in your team means they’ll feel well-cared for, listened to, and appreciated. By understanding their concerns, their ambitions, and their feedback, you’ll have an arsenal of insight that can help you grow your team, your product, and ultimately, your business.
  2. Being invested in your product has a dangerous line between being protective over it and being a changemaker when it comes to developing your offering. By being the latter, you can open yourself to so many more opportunities. Feedback is your friend! Take constructive criticism positively and use it to arm yourself, and your product. You’d be surprised how easy it is to become blind to product flaws when you’re heavily invested in it.
  3. Being invested in your customers as a leader is important. Some palm it off to customer success or service teams but remember, customers, are your greatest advocate. Word of mouth marketing doesn’t come easily. By creating a positive environment with your clients, you’re opening the door to recommendations, testimonials, social proofing, and more.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

‘To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.’

This helps every day as you realize that there are always folks that criticize from the sidelines or berate things that they do not understand. It is therefore important to never fear other’s judgment if your intentions are well-founded.

We have to try to live with less fear whilst also making ourselves less fragile each day.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Here I am on LinkedIn and Twitter!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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