“I used to do backflips on the mattresses. Anything crazy that would get people’s attention. Whatever it took to get the views.”
Pulling wild antics to draw attention online may sound trite and obvious now, but in the heady days of the mid-2000s – before Facebook and YouTube became as ubiquitous as breakfast cereal – marketing strategies like these were groundbreaking. As a young furniture store owner, Aaron James was looking for strategies that would give him a leg up – and had the mix of moxie and cachet to pull it off.
He rode the wave to local digital glory. Traffic to Aaron’s website started to climbed with every wacky video he posted. “I became the crazy consignment guy,” he recalls with a mix of nostalgia and relief.
Discount furniture was hardly Aaron’s first entrepreneurial rodeo. He’d been a flight school student running a 3-location massage kiosk before he’d corrected course to Roger Williams Business School. Consignment furniture led to discount furniture, which led to a specialty mattress store that employed e-mail auto responders to boost revenue. These were busy, crazy, lucrative times in his life. And a furniture entrepreneur Aaron may have stayed, were it not for the interjection from a most unexpected source: his 2-year old daughter.
“I was at the peak of life. 33 years old, multiple operations, a million-dollar business. I was going after what I’d always wanted and I got it. But once I had it, it hit me that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. At that same time in my life, my toddler daughter spoke her first word, “daddy”. That really woke me up. Working 7 days a week was not the life I wanted.”
It was time to get out.
Aaron exited his ventures, and after some soul-searching, put his attention toward a different passion: building websites, and helping people. True to his nature, Aaron had to go big or go home, and set his sights on one of the most fickle challenges of all, the notorious Google search algorithm. So far, his record for getting on the front page of Google’s search results for targeted terms remains a perfect 100%.
Since then, Aaron has built an impressive ecosystem of ventures – from a DIY website creation guide, to web hosting, to a virtual reality project with love from the Providence Journal and Senator Jim Langevin – all of which funnel into his entrepreneur and small business consulting services he provides through his main venture, Small Business Deacon.
It’s a neat system, and Aaron is constantly evolving with the times. His latest venture, the Rhode Island Small Business Yellow Pages, will aim to be the definite small business directory in the state, offering free advertising to entrepreneurs to boot.
Hey, if all else fails, we reckon he could leverage the old backflip strategy.
Learn more about Aaron’s latest venture at SmallBusinessDeacon.com.