Akoca

Jordan Farrar is the founder of Akoca SEO.  Jordan founded Akoca SEO in 2017 with the initial plan being to source and brand products in order to sell on Amazon’s FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon) program alongside his current role. With an initial investment of £7,000.00 – Akoca’s pet project began. While the products did sell, the most valuable takeaway from the project was the education. In order to make a success of this project, a number of Digital Marketing skills had to be learned such as; Branding, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, A/B testing – the list goes on. At the beginning of 2020, Jordan started working with small businesses (initially in Oxfordshire and then further afield) to improve their online presence by utilising all that had been learnt. Today, Akoca works with multiple businesses in and outside of the area with Jordan and the team of virtual assistants helping to improve their online presence.

What is your background? What made you decide to get involved in supporting entrepreneurs?
My background is in the military. I had grown up in Oxfordshire and at 18 left to join the British Army. I spent 8 years in various roles and operations and learnt a lot – namely, how to work with people. Once I left the forces, I found myself in positions within Brand & Business Development. As much as I enjoyed the companies I worked with, the roles themselves weren’t as structured as I was used to. In addition, at some point I came to realise that I wouldn’t achieve my personal goals on my current path, so I decided something needed to change.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
In my opinion, there is no “one size fits all” definition of entrepreneurship. This said, I’ll give the question a go! For me, I’d say innovation is a key factor for anyone building a business. If you can see a better way to do something, do it. There’s an old military expression which I am fond of – “if it looks stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid”, I think that applies here.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
Initially, I didn’t. In my previous role I was in a Business Development position which was great. Though I didn’t mind warming up old leads and generating new ones, some inbound enquiries every once in a while would have been appreciated. And while they did come, this was usually from referrals rather than the company’s website. Knowing what I had learnt with my various e-commerce projects, and being privy to the investment which had gone into the website to date, I knew the website could be doing better & I knew, given the opportunity, I could do it better. Putting two and two together, I realised that if my company were experiencing this problem, chances are there were others that were as well, now I needed proof of concept. To get proof of concept I picked up the phone, called a number of local businesses and secured my first deal. That was good enough for me!

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
In no particular order, this is what has worked for me:
1) Perseverance/self belief – Not too sure if you could call this a skill, perhaps a mindset? But for me, this helped, especially in the early days where you are putting in a lot of work and seeing little to no results. Had I listened to others, or that little voice in my head telling me to find something easier to do, things could look very different.
2) Ability to self criticise – This, I believe, is something which has helped me greatly. Coming back to my time in the Forces where everything was always very structured, you knew when you were performing well and when you weren’t. As anyone else that has been in will tell you, there are grading systems such as top, middle and bottom third and you work off of tried and tested Doctrine. In the private sector, there is no instructions per se on the best way to do things, in my experience, it was a bit of a free for all. Knowing that I didn’t know everything led me to listening to numerous audiobooks, podcasts and reading many blog articles. This has helped in ensuring I’m on the right track.
3) Sales – Being able to have a conversation and discuss business problems (and solutions) has really helped me when growing my business. Naturally, I’m quite the introvert however, putting a sales system in place that you can be stuck to, I find helps.

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
I enjoy the freedom of choosing how I’m going to spend my time. I value time greatly and am building my business with this in mind.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
There’s not a single person or organisation that inspires me most. Any inspiration I’ve had would come from the books I’ve read, each book providing a golden nugget/key takeaway which can be implemented. So to name a couple;
1) Michael Gerber
2) Tim Ferris

If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
Honestly no idea, I’d have to think about this ahead of time.

What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
This would be a successful web design and PPC (Pay Per Click) project for one of our customers. They provide an excellent service but were in a position where there were 0 new enquiries through their website. Furthermore, they were spending a significant amount of their per project profit on an external sub contractor who was responsible for the sales. They wanted to take back control but weren’t sure how best to go about it. We discussed this in detail and worked together to completely re-design and develop their website and set them up on a Google ad campaign. The campaign was a success, today they have gained complete control of their pipeline saving money and the reliance of said third party.

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
A key lesson, which I was fortunate enough to learn early on, is to ensure you charge enough for your service. I made the mistake in the past of undercharging for an SEO project, while the project was a success, it took up far too much time to deliver what was discussed.

How have you funded your ideas?
As mentioned, initially for our e-commerce projects we invested in products, branding, shipping etc – this was funded by X-forces funding enterprise who were great. Though we did see a return, I personally view the experience as the cost of an education in Digital Marketing. From there, all we have done has been organic.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
N/A

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
I’m based in Witney and in my experience, most people here seem to love supporting local businesses.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
Books are a great place to start along with blog articles/podcasts/videos – however you learn best.
Networking in Oxfordshire is great, There’s a large number of networking groups that will no doubt be able to provide value to you. Happy to recommend Buzz networking as I’ve made some good connections there personally.
If you want regular best practice Digital Marketing insights specifically from an Oxfordshire based business, feel free to check out my blog.

Any last words of advice?
I think something holding a lot of people back from starting their own business is the idea that they need to “jump into the deep end” and leave their job/safety net in order to start. Rather than quitting your job outright, could you drop a day or two and use that time to start building your business? If you have an idea, go for it – you just need to figure out how to make it work.

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