Have a great internal team backing you. Your business is only as great as your team running it.
Never give up on yourself and your ability to learn, improve and pivot. Never stop your progress.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Deepak Shukla, founder of the Pearl Lemon Group, a multi-award-winning marketing agency in London that generates 150+ inbound leads per month.
Deepak bootstrapped the business from his mum’s house to 500k in just it’s 3rd year. He’s since gone on to invest in algorithmic trading, launch multiple apps, build a 5-figure online course and start a food delivery service.
Deepak Shukla has featured in TEDx, SEMrush, BBC, Chelsea FC, Appsumo, Bright Talks & more.
When he’s not running his agency, you’ll find him running marathons (33 so far) completing Ironmen (2 so far), getting inked (40% body coverage) or playing with his cat Jenny.
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 am the founder of the Pearl Lemon Group, a multi-award-winning marketing agency in London that generates 150+ inbound leads per month.
I bootstrapped the business from his mum’s house to 500k in just it’s 3rd year. He’s since gone on to invest in algorithmic trading, launch multiple apps, build a 5-figure online course and start a food delivery service.
I have been featured in TEDx, SEMrush, BBC, Chelsea FC, Appsumo, Bright Talks & more
When I’m not running his agency, you can find me running marathons (33 so far) completing Ironmen (2 so far), getting inked (40% body coverage) or playing with his cat Jenny.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Hard times came with needing to fully restart, restructure and rebuild a service branch. Having it fail initially was hard to go through. Having to rebuild took time, effort, and a new team. We rebounded though and are rebuilding the branch.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I accidentally included some clients in our internal emails! I said “Guys, you’re making me look like an absolute twat!” (yes, I actually used that word) and added that we were in danger of losing a major contract! Luckily, I’ve since learned how to avoid hitting the ‘Reply All’ button!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Pearl Lemon stands out as a multiple award winning FULLY digital agency based out of London. Our team is global, spanning from the UK, to the US, to India and throughout Europe. We are a highly diverse team and extremely skilled. That is what makes a stand out the most.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take care of yourself. It may sound basic but it is true. Have time each day set aside to have to just yourself. Read, walk, relax. If you are over stressed and overworked, you will burn out. Know your limit, but take care of yourself to be able to continue that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am most grateful towards my family and my partner. They have stuck by me and supported my endeavors through the ups and downs of having a start up and aiming at creating an outstanding business.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
A good company makes profit and follows its mission. A good company is honest and sells genuine products and services. A great company gives back and supports their team and employees. A great company is always striving to improve and provide the best possible solution to the problems its prospects have. A great company makes and impact and difference.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
1)Have a plan. Have a north star and know where you want to go and what you will do to achieve that.
2) Have a great external team backing you. Having friends and family that support you and your endeavors will help greatly when needing to look for advice or purpose to keep going.
3) Bring in help when needed. Never shy away from needing a coach or someone greater to be able to help you improve areas you may be lacking.
4) Have a great internal team backing you. Your business is only as great as your team running it.
5) Never give up on yourself and your ability to learn, improve and pivot. Never stop your progress.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Purpose is the driving force behind business and people. Having a larger goal, like giving back or committing to the environment, allows that company to connect to both the public and a cause. This also helps develop a further company culture and image. This extra driving force and way of giving back can help be that extra push a client may need to feel like they are participating in something greater than themselves and the company.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
I would say start by analyzing what you both do and don’t do. Growth hacking is a viable path for businesses to be sure that you break through plateaus. Maybe paid ads will be a good option or giving your site an overall facelift in terms of. Each business will have its struggles, so it is important to check each business individually.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Lead generation is the lifeblood to my agency and many other service industries. Invest in outreach and in the use of directories to help increase leads and help maintain a flow even in turbulent times. Linkedin is a powerful platform for outreach and networking.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
One underestimated item is the value in having a proven and effective HR process and hiring process. When starting out, there is a need to get help, but equally you need a tried and true process for finding the best candidates. It is important to take the time to develop a recruiting and interviewing process, along with onboarding to be sure the best people are trained fully to support you and your endeavors.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Targeted ads can be one approach to take, this helps ensure that your ideal client is being approached. Another funding is in and link building, this allows for your target keywords to be the most fitting to search queries that involve your products. Another fix is to be sure that you have strong CTAs on your site, these give the push your customers need to book a call or make a sale as they strike up a need sensation and give a little extra push.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
One way is that you can run flawless social media pages and engage with customers. Another point is to be transparent, people want to be able to trust you and by having a brand that shows their cards and practice what they preach are both large ways to accomplish this.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
A few important things to note include ensuring that from a website perspective, all links and menus work properly. Having a site that does not work right is a major repellent. If you have an ecommerce site, you need to be sure that your checkout functions smoothly and is secure. In the service industry, your contact form needs to be able to submit properly as well. Other wow factors include giving the customer a personalised experience and journey, make them feel special and unique.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Yes and no. Social media is definitely a “necessary evil” in modern society. You must have an online social presence to make a lasting and continual impact. The importance of reputation comes with having preventative measures in place. These are things like making sure posts and comments are approved by a board before publishing. This helps ensure grammar, brand voice and more items are followed. Maintaining your brand’s reputation and having a solid foundation in the public eye is critical.
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?
The most common mistakes are probably a combination of items. 1) not having a well built plan and doing enough research on the desired niche prior to getting started. 2) they don’t continue learning, they stop and become stagnant. 3) they don’t plan the right amount of funding into their project. All of this can be avoided by bringing in coaches and researching further into ways to learn and expand knowledge. Planning needs to begin far in advance, launching a successful business doesn’t just happen on a whim or overnight. It is important to have a plan and the funds to support yourself through the startup phase.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Allow your randomness to be your best strength and believe in yourself. Find your strength and run with it. Never stop improving or striving for your own greatness. You are in charge of your own success.
How can our readers further follow you online?
You can find my personal website here: https://deepakshukla.com/. It’s the best place for getting to know more about my journey and what I’m up to at the moment. I’ve also got a YouTube channel, a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (@deepakpshukla1) and Instagram page where you can hit me up!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!