Pop Quiz, Monday with Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan
Photo credit: Paul Sullivan

What is your job role?
CEO and Founder, but I win the business for the business

Tell us about your company?
Bias Digital effectively represents everything that I believe. I am biased, I 100% think your business does not succeed without a comprehensive, multilevel online strategy.

Not merely an inbound marketing strategy, but a combined Research, Inbound Marketing, Inbound/Outbound Sales Strategy and a Business Development plan.

We use this approach with all our clients to continued success.

What do you love most about your job?
I love working with different companies, putting the strategy together, bringing new processes and methodology to workplaces and seeing businesses flourish.

It sounds cliche, but I am selective about with whom I work as I need to feel inspired continuously and there is no better feeling than seeing a fellow entrepreneur see success in their business.

I’m a constant learner, so I develop new skills and understanding of new technologies on an ongoing basis, so I broaden my mind. That stimulates me intensely.

Recently, I put together two of my clients and pitched them on how if they joined forces and created a new business, they each would increase market share and profitability. That’s the kind of reward I get, by seeing things grow and develop and helping business owners see things they hadn’t considered previously.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?

If I weren’t in a relationship, I would literally be married to my work, if it were possible. My girlfriend travels a lot for work, and she often asks, “What are you doing this weekend (whilst I’m away)?” and before I respond she’ll roll her eyes and say “Work right?”

So I’m a workaholic, but I have three awards for my work in the past two years, so maybe that’s my passion and I am good at it, who knows???!!

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I work with smarter people with different skill sets, that inspires and develops my broader understanding. The adage of no I in team is absolutely correct.

I allow my team to develop and encourage them to take responsibility and apply their influence as much as possible.

I also hire entrepreneurs, I want them to continually challenge me and the status quo, giving us an edge over our competitors with our “Big Picture Approach.”

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
I think the most memorable thing I did was tell the team to meet me for a pitch in London and I had actually purchased tickets for the new James Bond Movie which went down a storm.

We also do other things like crazy golf, bowling and we are currently considering an escape room, that would be really cool.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Some of the significant challenges of my job are getting CMO’s, CEO’s or business owners (tech startups) to see a different perspective.

Allowing what was originally a marketing agency (us) to become a consulting and delivery partner who can deliver innovation and education programs as well as marketing and sales strategies.

Also, I appeared on the UK version of The Apprentice, and I probably came across less well in the edit, although it has hugely opened doors too.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Projects give you continual lessons, and we try to be transparent with our case studies on our website. But a recent engagement with an Insurance Tech startup really hasn’t gone too well from our perspective.

We were hired in as consultants to fill a head of marketing and sales role temporarily. The challenge to set a go to inbound market strategy, client acquisition strategy, build commercial partnerships and generally help build a team and culture.

We ran buyer persona workshops, did the keyword research, created the content strategy and hired a marketing assistant for the company and some interns.

Through my own network, I got them a deal to be the official recommended provider of insurance for small businesses and freelancers for a large chamber of commerce.

The company failed to follow through on the strategy we set, pitched as an AI company when they weren’t using AI, which we said was a false representation and the relationship soon became untenable.

As an individual my work is personal, if you criticise it, its personal, if you cheerlead it, it’s personal. I am wholly invested in my client’s success. So to part company without a project seen through to success is always disheartening although we did win another award this year for our Inbound Marketing Services, as best in the UK 2019.

Another recent deal we tried to facilitate also didn’t work out. This one really frustrated us at Bias Digital.

We are working in an Accelerator program, and one of the startups is using AI to tell large chain supermarkets how much in perishable goods to stock based on historical sales and a number of other social data points.

I got it straight away and asked the startup if they would like introductions to two of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, Tesco, and Sainsbury.

We could make the intro and help secure the deal, but our fee would be 5%, and we always have a clause that if an intro invests, we get a percentage of the investment funds. Obviously, we take no upfront fees, so this is a success based business deal.

The startup was interested, and we set the two meetings up, but then they didn’t want to agree on terms. We tried to explain the enormous impact this could have for the success of their business, but they completely disagreed.

Accepting their response is natural, comprehending that response was not so easy. As such, when I get asked to speak at events, I often tell this story, and it always gets us interest from other more commercially minded businesses.

So the lessons learned are simple, there are always lessons to be learned, and you must always look to stay ambiguous to situations to find the lesson and then move on.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in your industry?
My advice would be NOT to be a “full service” agency. More and more we are collaborating with niche service partners who are winning business on their core strengths.

When you niche and become an expert on a particular subject matter, you can have unlimited earning potential.

Why are we so diverse? Because we bring 20 years plus marketing, sales and business consulting experience to bear.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:


Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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