Exploring the WHY behind businesses is a topic that’s always fascinating to me. I’m not alone in wanting to know why any business was started and what drives it forward. Knowing the origin story can help us understand the values behind any organisation.
Influence of Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with WHY’
The question of WHY is not new, but it was popularised in business circles by the publication of the book ‘Start with WHY‘ by Simon Sinek in 2009.
Because this article is about why I, Andrew Laws, decided to start an SEO agency it is probably going to get a bit personal, but everything we do at Yeseo is done as a part of our mission to be the most transparent agency that we can be.
If you haven’t read the Simon Sinek book, I’d recommend it or you can look up a video about it on YouTube. Start with WHY is one of those books that influenced a whole genre of business philosophy, and with good reason – it condensed many generations of buying decision thinking into a single sentence or even a single word – that word being ‘WHY’.
Musical Beginnings and a Shift to Entrepreneurship
So, why did I start an agency?
In the interest of my earlier mention of transparency, I’m going to be incredibly clear by telling you that I didn’t intend to start an SEO agency at all.
Way back in the year 2001, I was playing bass guitar in a band called Junk Culture and we were starting to take our music more seriously. Despite the fact we started as a band in around 1993, it hadn’t occurred to us to actually try and get gigs, but a friend called Stuart Tyldesley had recently joined the band and he was determined to get us out on the road. As a result of this, we were starting to gig a lot more often and were even putting together rudimentary short tours of a handful of days at a time.
The Early Days: From Website Controller to Badge Maker
The new lad in the band ran his own electronics manufacturing company. He runs the same company now, called Wardley Electronics.
I was working in central London as a website controller for Airmic. The drummer, Johnny, and the guitarist, Graham, were both long-term unemployed. At that point, Johnny had been on the dole for seven years and Graham for around 15 years. Many years earlier, I had tried my hand at being on the dole but was bored to tears within a few weeks.
The Birth of Best Badges and Lessons in SEO
The prospect of popping off for a few days at a time to play crappy gigs with our terrible band wasn’t a challenge for my two friends who were on the dole, and appeared to be of no consequence to my friend Stuart, who was running his own business.
I had a problem with being able to gig and hold down a job. I live in Ipswich, which is only about an hour and 10 minutes on a train away from where I was working in central London, but due to the nature of trains at the time, that journey to work and back could take anything up to four or five hours a day.
With some coaching from my business-owning friend Stuart, I left my job in London and started my own SEO and tech consultancy. Looking back on it now, it wouldn’t be fair to call the company an agency because the truth of the WHY about why I started that company is that I didn’t want to have to carry on managing being a full-time employee commuting to London and touring with a band.
From Small Acorns, Saplings Grow
There was no grand scheme to take over the world and have fancy offices and a huge team of people. I just wanted to play terrible gigs in places around the country on a Tuesday night to no people for no money and then sleep in a transit van. It’s not exactly a classic origin story for the owner of an SEO agency.
Enough of the backstory. Why did the SEO agency start?
To explain why I’ve got into SEO, I need to go back a few more years. In 1998, I was an IT technician working on networks and servers for a very small company in Suffolk. We decided we would start building web servers to place on the Internet ourselves. Back then it seemed really complicated to buy domain names and sort out things that are now basic, like hosting. At this time, I also started building websites.
I remember realising that nobody would see any of the websites I was building if they couldn’t find them. Simply building a website felt like a technological achievement, but if nobody was going to look at the website then what was the point of making the effort?
I can’t even claim that the websites were visionary and made the world a better place. One of the first websites I built was called ‘Cats in Boxes’ and was full of – yes, you guessed it – photos of cats in boxes. People sent me photographs of their cats asleep in boxes from all around the world, which blew my mind.
Now that the history lesson is over, let’s look at how this WHY affects the way we run Yeseo and how we look after our clients.
Future Outlook: How ‘Why’ Shapes Yeseo’s Direction
To a certain extent, our WHY affects what types of companies we work with. We are applying the David Ogilvie precept that you should only work with a company you think is great. If we only work with companies we think are great, we can harness the same enthusiasm we might have if we were part of the origin story for that business.
Our WHY dictates that we approach SEO like an adventurer on a new frontier. We know the lay of the land and follow best practices, but we always look to see what opportunities might be on the horizon. We love figuring out how to make the most of new technology and opportunities in a way that will put our clients ahead of their competitors. We want our clients to reach the other side of the opportunity horizon before anybody else.
How will our WHY affect the future of Yeseo?
Because we celebrate curiosity and creativity, we encourage everybody we work with to approach learning and developing great practice with joy and enthusiasm.
We love what we do, and it’s infectious! This is a quality I look for when building relationships with strategic partners, clients, our team, and everything I do.
I would love to learn your WHY and what we can do to help you amplify your excellence. Call me on 07793 416611.
Last Updated on January 17, 2024