Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi there, my name is Robb Fahrion and I am the Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group, a digital marketing and advertising company located. We service clients all across the globe and help them grow their business through the power of the internet. My passion is for business and there is nothing more rewarding than helping others grow their businesses and share in their successes.
Our flagship service is centered around search engine optimization and content marketing. SEO is the best investment someone can make into their business, bar none. SEO provides tremendous value alongside content marketing that will turn your business into the expert voice in the space. With that being said, we provide end-to-end marketing and advertising solutions for our partners.
Today, Flying V Group employs 12 people, has worked with over 300 clients, operates internationally, and is on pace to double revenue for the second year in a row. Crazy to think about being here when my brother and I both got up and quit our corporate jobs and put $5k into the project to get us started!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Flying V Group was not a master-planned company. There definitely was not a business plan or even a plan in general. The company was started based on opportunity and an obvious hole in the market.
Do not pass by an opportunity without vetting it because it may be an opportunity that helps position you for success!
At the time, I was working as a financial consultant (I had a background in marketing) and my brother was working as an auditor for Deloitte. We always wanted to start a business, but we never knew what we would start. I got a call from a mentor of mine who runs a very successful law firm. He was in dire straits. His website was hacked, emails were blacklisted, and he had no idea what to do. I was the only one he knew to call for these types of problems. Long story short, we got everything back up and running for him, cleaned up his email issues, and redid his website. He then asked for me to send him an invoice (I had no idea what to charge) so I sent him what I thought my services were worth. He paid for it. No problems, no questions asked. This was the aha moment.
I asked myself, “How many other individuals are out there like my mentor that need digital help?”
At this point, I went to my brother and told him we needed to start a marketing services firm. With blind faith he said, “Let’s do it!”
While not a novel idea, the focus was different. We wanted to help the groups that didn’t even know they needed our help. We were ahead of the curve in terms of the types of businesses we were helping. Not always the sexiest, but definitely the most profitable.
To this day, firms in the professional services industries are still one of the top verticals that we service. This includes law firms, financial service firms, accounting firms, etc. We help those that are unfamiliar with the digital space dominate the digital space (and they don’t even have to worry about it). We were quickly able to validate the idea with every conversation we had. A majority of these groups generate new business through word of mouth and referral and they have never considered opening up new revenue streams until Flying V Group came around!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We designed our services with one thing in mind: generate more revenue for our clients. Everything we do is focused on the end goal, which is to generate more business that returns anywhere from 5-20X the investment. Our clients are motivated by increasing revenue, so we made sure we found ways to generate the biggest return as quickly as possible.
Although we are a digital marketing company, we see ourselves more as a lead generation company. By generating new interest in our clients’ businesses, we knew that we could generate more leads and then more revenue. This increase in business would be welcomed because our clients never knew the revenue existed in the first place.
Because our clients are in some pretty complex industries, we knew we needed to capitalize on their expertise and experience. This shifted our focus to heavy SEO work and content writing (blogs, white papers, lead magnets, etc.). By turning our clients into industry experts online, we knew the rest of the services would fill in the lack of exposure. So, we use content and information to show others that our clients are the best at what they do. We then use paid advertising to promote that content in front of the proper demographics. Automation and analytics are extremely important for what we do because they drive our decisions moving forward for the changes we make and the adjustments to strategy.
All in all, we work with high-end clientele that operate in complex industries that do not have the necessary tools or human capital to compete in the online space. Our team is designed to fill in as a marketing department and handle everything from a digital perspective. This allows our clients to focus on what they do best while we handle the complicated online space.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching the business happened very quickly. As mentioned, we didn’t put together a business plan or a plan in general. We decided to go and go fast. We knew we needed to invest in our own infrastructure, so we spent a lot of time building our website and starting to create content. We also wanted to have a professional feel so we made sure that we had every social media channel, professional signatures, and anything else that could elevate our presence and make us look like anything but a bootstrapped startup.
The early going was tough. We had nothing to stand on. When someone would ask, “Who have you done work for?” We didn't have an answer because the answer was no one.
Be humble and don’t be afraid to lean on others for support. Many people have been in your shoes at one point or another.
It took almost three years for us to really start to gain traction. This was the point in time in which our investment in content started to pay off and we saw a big influx of traffic from organic search (we couldn’t pay for ads because we did not have any money).
In terms of financing, my brother and I both put $5,000 into the company. To this day this is the only financing or loan we have taken for the business and we continue to operate debt-free and cash-positive.
My best advice for new startups is to take every opportunity seriously until you determine it is not an option. Do not pass by an opportunity without vetting it because it may be an opportunity that helps position you for success!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since launch, we have focused on what we could control. One thing we could not control was our funding and capital. Since we bootstrapped the company, we did not have additional budget to spend on paid advertising or any additional marketing opportunities.
What we did have was time! Being that we did not have a ton of clients and hourly deliverables, we had time to invest in our own business. So, we capitalized on our expertise, which was SEO. We spent enormous amounts of time and effort optimizing our website and producing highly valuable content for our potential clients to consume.
The most important component of online business growth is having a holistic marketing and advertising strategy. One platform works off of another and so on and so on.
While this did cost our time, it also helped us to grow our business organically without exorbitant ad spend fees. And, still to this day, our inbound organic lead flow from SEO traffic is our #1 new business generator. I am a huge proponent of content marketing and SEO efforts to grow your business. It is the best long-term investment you can make into your business because it ALWAYS works for you. 24/7/365, content is available on your website that is building your expertise, authority, and trust with your audience. Unlike paid marketing, the time or money you spend to develop SEO and content works for you months and years down the road and only gets stronger!
Take a look at our 2020 vs. 2019 traffic:
We generated 540% more traffic in 2020 than 2019. From a user's standpoint that is over 35k more visitors. You can only imagine the business growth from these new potential customers!
So, if you’re starting a business, invest in your website as fast as possible. It is not a quick win, but it will lead to many more wins than any other channel!
Currently, we do a bunch more. Here are a few of the other activities:
- Regular Blog Posting
- Email Marketing
- Paid Search Ads
- Paid Social Ads
- Outbound Sales Team
- Social Media Content Posting
- Personal Brand Building
Here is the point: start with channels that you have a competitive advantage in. For me, I knew SEO and I knew it better than my competitors. So in place of money, I spent my time focusing on one channel. Once this channel became profitable we were then able to move to other channels to improve overall deal flow.
The most important component of online business growth is having a holistic marketing and advertising strategy. One platform works off of another and so on and so on. If someone comes to our website via organic search we retarget them with Facebook Ads. If someone comes to a particular blog post, we try to capture their email address to solicit them with additional content and information.
But remember, focus on your strengths and then supplement other areas with other experts.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Flying V Group is an extremely profitable business at this point. We have been in business for six (6) years now and we have increased revenue 100% YoY for the past two years. We are on track to do this again this year. We anticipate the same type of growth next year as we add new members to the team and increase our capability to scale out our processes and services.
From a margin perspective, we clear anywhere from 50-60% on services from strictly a cost-basis. Service-based industries are a little tougher to track true margin due to the value of time, but that is where we believe we provide the best for our clients. Our team of experts is able to drive revenue growth for our clients and turn prior pain points into ringing successes.
Business is so fluid and being able to adjust is extremely important. You cannot be rigid and expect to succeed.
In terms of operations, we have an end-to-end solution for our clients that makes the onboarding and execution of the efforts seamless. We have added new specialists, client success managers, and more to ensure that our team is delivering the best results and service to our clientele.
We plan to continue to expand our service offerings and provide the most comprehensive digital marketing and advertising services to clients near and far.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Starting a business has been the single best decision I have made in my entire life. I have learned so many valuable lessons on the fly and have learned how to quickly adjust and think on my feet.
I’d say one of the best decisions we have made over the course of our business growth is to hire the best people, which is different from hiring the best fit. We look for people with high-quality character and work ethic to bring to our team. We can teach the rest. By surrounding yourself with talented individuals that care about the success of your clients, creates a win-win scenario for everyone.
Business is so fluid and being able to adjust is extremely important. You cannot be rigid and expect to succeed. You must roll with the punches and take every moment in time as an opportunity to improve or get ahead.
Mindset is also extremely important. Believing in yourself, your people, your concept will do wonders when it comes to the actual business success. Always remember that there is a solution to every problem and the ability to keep open eyes, ears, and minds will help you to succeed in every situation.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We lean heavily on technology and automation to work efficiently and provide more for our clients. Some of our favorite tools that we use include the following:
- Slack - for communication
- Wordpress - preferred website platform
- Shopify - preferred e-commerce website platform
- Google Search Console - organic search reporting
- Google Analytics - website user behavior
- Reporting Ninja - holistic marketing reporting
- Trello - SCRUM project management
- GSuite - email, docs, drive, etc.
- Clearscope - content SEO monitor
- Ahrefs - SEO health tool
- Hubspot - CRM
Of these tools, the most valuable for our firm is Slack. We can communicate seamlessly both internally and externally with our co-workers and clients.
In terms of analytics, we lean heavily on the numbers. This is why our tech stack includes heavy analytical tools like Google Analytics and Search Console, Reporting Ninja, Clearscope, and Ahrefs. We love numbers and we use them to tell stories and indicate successful vs. unsuccessful channels.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential book that I have read that has helped me with business is from one of my college professors, Dr. Dennis Laurie. The title of the book is From Battlefield to Board: Winning Management Strategies Today’s Global Business.
In the book, Dr. Laurie uses battles that span history and relates them to particular business strategies or instances. I have been able to incorporate his approaches and historical events to help perform in the business arena.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice for other entrepreneurs is GO! Stop waiting around, just go. I am not saying that you need to dive in headfirst, but stop waiting for the perfect moment in time. That moment does not exist. The perfect moment is now. I always relate to an old Chinese Proverb: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
The same is true for starting your business. There is no playbook other than starting and figuring it out. I know that may be unsettling for some, but that is the reality of entrepreneurship. Every business is different, every engagement, every day, so there is no set path to determine how to be successful. If you are someone that is hard-working, a problem solver, and a dreamer, you will be just fine. Go out and get it.
The other advice I have is to be humble and don’t be afraid to lean on others for support. Many people have been in your shoes at one point or another. These are the people that will help and support you. I love lending advice or just chatting with other aspiring entrepreneurs. It makes me excited for them and excited to be able to pass on knowledge from my experience to someone else that values the same things I do!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Flying V Group is always looking to hire. We are looking for full-time sales and business development associates and social media and PPC specialists. These would be full-time, paid positions with incentivized compensation packages. Flying V Group is an equal opportunity employer and we look for talent all across the globe!
Please email us your resume and cover letter to [email protected].
Where can we go to learn more?
- Flying V Group Website
- The Migration Blog
- Flying V Group Facebook
- Flying V Group Twitter
- Robb’s Twitter
- Robb’s LinkedIn
- Robb’s Email
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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