Interview with Julian Baladurage, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at MBJ LONDON
The founder series explores the creative minds of entrepreneurs, delving into their journeys to understand a little more about what inspires them and how they got to where they are today. Learning about what makes an entrepreneur tick, the intricacies of their business, and why they provide the service that they do, gives us an insight into the details of their world.
The information that these business owners provide helps inform others who are looking to make an impact as an entrepreneur. These lessons can be applied to our very own journey, so thank you to all who have taken the time to share their knowledge.
Thank you for joining us, Julian. Can you tell us about your business and the services that you provide?
When I was fresh out of university, I founded MBJ LONDON with friend, Toni Horn. We initially offered digital business consulting as we felt that SMEs struggled with digital marketing, and therefore, identified the need for affordable and accessible services. Along the way, we continued to tweak the business model, based on how the industry was changing. This is essential, especially when working in digital. Today, our headquarters are in London, but we’re also lucky to have excellent teams around the globe.
Our core product is WaaS — website as a service. In addition to website design and development, we also offer a range of website management services, including SEO, PPC, and social media management. Our all-inclusive packages are designed to provide everything that a business owner might need for their website. We’re currently launching a sub-brand micro-influencer agency, One Cirqle, which aims to connect small genuine influencers — making influencer marketing more accessible to smaller companies, enabling micro-influencers to monetise on their profiles while cutting out the boring stuff such as admin work.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
It can be difficult for SMEs to have access to affordable websites and online marketing. A lot of providers of digital marketing services are guilty of not being transparent about pricing with SMEs encountering many hidden costs. Our WaaS and related products offer an affordable option for everyone, from individuals to companies with a few hundred employees. One Cirqle will make genuine influencer marketing more tailored and personal by reaching the people who matter within a business. We carefully match the products with the influencers as we know that one size doesn’t fit all.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
Traditional marketing is shifting, and we’re very much aware of this. We stay ahead of the game and offer solutions that aren’t readily available to many SMEs. Our packages are affordable and transparent, unlike many other digital marketing businesses. Our personalised and unique design and management services take care of all digital marketing needs within a company, no matter the size. One Cirqle will be working with small influencers to connect them with both small and large businesses — something that’s currently hard to find and expensive in the existing market.
We always follow the newest trends and keep up to date on what’s happening in the industry so that our packages can be adapted as technology moves forward.
Let’s get to know the man behind MBJ LONDON a little more. Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally?
As a fellow entrepreneur, Ben Horowitz has inspired me. He’s a brave, courageous and hardworking man that kept going against all the odds. His book, ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’, gave me a lot of support during a tough phase. I appreciate that Horowitz has dealt with tough times and still had the determination to come out the other side and stick to his goals, pushing himself above and beyond. Even though he’s experienced setbacks, he persevered and achieved success.
His message speaks volumes. He’s telling me and others like me that there will be difficult times, but to not give up. And that important message is what has helped to push me to achieve all that I have so far.
And finally, what three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
Keep evaluating your service, product, and business model as there’s always room for improvement. Don’t try to adapt to every little thing within the industry, instead, keep a tight grip on what’s happening around you. Be aware of the latest developments and trends, but also stay true to yourself. Don’t let your mind be swayed by what others are doing and don’t get too focused on what you do, forgetting about all variables around you. Don’t let obsession drive your product and avoid being too focused on one thing to the detriment of everything else.
Throwbacks and ugly surprises will arise, so be prepared. You need to stand up more often than you fall but always strive to keep a close grip on reality. Don’t just fight because that’s what every entrepreneur is telling you to do. Stay realistic and assess whether the fight is worth it. Sometimes, the best thing to do is take a step back and ask whether something is really working and if it’s worth pursuing.
Let go. Many entrepreneurs, including myself in the early days, tend to micro-manage everything. It’s normal that you want to be in control of everything. You have probably invested most of your own money, time, and made many sacrifices along the way. It’s important to know what to do yourself, and what to delegate to others. If you don’t, you will never be able to grow, scale, or keep your own creative freedom. You should focus on hiring the right people for the job and being able to delegate. Letting go of some of the control you have can allow your business to flourish and it will help you avoid burnout.
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