Having an innovator mindset

Gunnar Hood, WSI-Summit

As a kid, I was hardwired with curiosity. My mom said it was always hard to contain me because I was off climbing on things, exploring, and taking things apart to try and figure out how they worked. That curiosity has stayed with me throughout my life and has made an impact on my success in business.

When I left the corporate world for the uneasy landscape of entrepreneurship, I was pretty confident I’d be successful. Why? Because of my history and the skills I’d developed in the corporate world.

Prior to starting my own business, I’d spent a chunk of my career creating systems for other companies. When the division I was working for got sold, I decided it was time to go into business for myself. Moving to a different landscape was a huge change, but I didn’t lose those experiences when I made the switch.

Making the leap

When it was time to step out on my own, I looked at all the things that I could bring to other companies. One of the biggest things that I had going for me was my involvement with the Chamber of Commerce and the board of advisors to that chamber.

I had been a member throughout my corporate career and had the opportunity to develop many relationships along the way. My membership also provided me with insight into the business community in my area. I discovered a large number of companies were about eight years behind the curve on digital marketing. Revenue local companies could be earning was going elsewhere because the local companies were invisible online. I decided this was a problem I could help solve.

The right skills in the right place

From my time in the corporate world, I had built a skillset around problem solving and building customer services using technology. I wasn’t a salesperson really, but I knew I wanted to build a business that could help people. There is no shortage of agencies created by former programmers and graphic designers. What seemed to be missing in the market were agencies led by people with deep business experience.

I joined up with WSI, a global network of marketing agencies that had been around since 1995. Instead of starting from scratch, I was able to plug into all the systems, strategic partnerships and thought leadership offered by WSI. Moreover, WSI caters to experienced business leaders, providing me with the ability to tap this collective knowledge base. WSI allowed me to ramp up faster and help people get ahead of the digital marketing curve. Six years later, my business has grown steadily every year.

Staying ahead of the curve

Maintaining an innovator mindset and being an early adopter has helped me get many companies on and ahead of the curve on technology. Creating opportunities for firms to get the word out in the digital sphere is something I love to do, and it’s something my corporate experience prepared me for.

Mobile strategy is a good example. When we were first advising companies on their mobile strategy, it wasn’t on most business radars. Our experience working with clients in other countries helped us educate our clients on the developing trend in mobile. As a result, our clients were well positioned for the shift to mobile. Last July, Google shifted to a mobile first index which gives better search visibility to businesses that offer a mobile friendly user experience.

Staying ahead of the curve takes work, energy, and an awareness of trends, but it’s an important part of long-term business success. And having an innovator mindset and constant curiosity can help you stay ahead of the curve.

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