Deepak Shukla is the Founder and CEO of Pearl Lemon, a 4x award-winning SEO agency in London. Deepak bootstrapped the business from his mum’s place to a £250k company in less than 24 months. He’s since gone on to invest in algorithmic trading, launch 5-figure online courses and continues to grow.
Deepak has been featured in TEDx, SEMrush, BBC, Chelsea FC, Appsumo, Bright Talks & more. When he’s not running his agency, you’ll find him running marathons (25 so far) completing Ironmen (2 so far), getting inked (40% body coverage) or playing with his cat Jenny.
Most passionate about
- I’m passionate about helping people. I think everybody has the ability to unleash greatness within their lives. The way I’m serving businesses today is through my agency, Pearl Lemon; we specialize in helping companies make sure they get enough visibility on Google for keyword terms that can really get the right people to their doorstep. That’s what I do today.
- Where I’m headed: there are now Pearl Lemon videos, we’re in the midst of releasing Pearl Lemon reviews, I’m trying to build a foundation from which we can spread our message about accelerated growth within not only the businesses we run, but within our own lives.
Deepak’s best advice about approaching customers
- Be your own devil’s advocate. The number one thing that anyone, as an entrepreneur, needs to be able to do is be able to get money in the bank. You have to be able to sell your proposition and the way you do that is be able to answer any question any one throws at you. For me, those questions are: Do you have a case study? Yes. What format of a case study? Any format you want; we’ve got video, PDF, spreadsheets, fancy documents. Do you have someone I can speak to? Yes, you could reach out to Hayut right now, here’s her LinkedIn profile, I’ll also do an email intro, what would you prefer? Brilliant! You should be able to answer all of those kinds of questions in any conversation you go into because a lot of people will falter and fluster here, and I do believe that in today’s age, it’s easy to spot where the numbers don’t quite make sense or things don’t quite stack up.
- The presence of competition is so developed that you need to make sure that you have left no stone unturned. When you go into these conversations, ask yourself: would I be satisfied by my answer? Does that answer make sense? And certainly, if you can begin to make sure you’ve covered every answer, you very quickly begin to differentiate yourself and this has been the way that we’ve begun to win awards. We’ve won three now in our first year as a SEO only agency and I’d love for more people to copy me.
- I think you need to be unreasonable in your pursuit of success and unreasonable in the level of quality that you bring to the table.
- They’ll say well, the client didn’t provide the blog content, and I’d say well, why did you just assume that they would do what they said they’d do. That’s your fault, for making an assumption that people follow through. Do you follow through on your New Year’s resolutions? Do you follow through on your fitness/weight/diet goal plans? You probably don’t do half the things you say. So, why do you expect someone else to do the things they’ll say they do? It’s naive.
Biggest failure with a customer
- There’s a company called City Relay; they are a property management company. At that stage of the business, I was focused on the business development and sales side, so I lost touch a little bit with the day to day of what was going on with the actual work. I remember getting onto a call because City Relay had brought in someone with a SEO background into the team and they wanted to review the work. I still remember that call. I was caught with my pants down. They said, why have you not changed the metadata here, why are there images where the alt text has not been renamed, why have some of these things that are simple to do not been done? And I, on the call, tried to make excuses and say, oh, well, the results are good, I think I even said, ‘it doesn’t matter so much.’ That was nonsense. Although the results were good, there were lots of flaws within our work and that culminated with them billing us immediately then writing a scathing review that still exists on Google my business, you’ll find a one star review and a very detailed break down of al of the things we screwed up upon, and that was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was amazing!
- Hailey, who wrote that review, who still probably hates me; Thank you Hailey! You did me the honor of making me overhaul my entire process, of making me review absolutely everything while letting me understand that I was letting your business down. The worst thing for any entrepreneur or anyone trying to grow a business is comfort. Comfort will kill you. Comfort is a silent killer. What Hailey gave me was basically fear. What she gave me was the impetus to create massive amounts of action.
- Have you ever noticed that it’s only when people get fired or get made redundant they produce the biggest volume of activity that you’ll ever see. You’ll see someone who coasts through work, who doesn’t really think about over-achieving or makes excuses that haven’t happened that haven’t gone their way get fired and suddenly they’re on Monster, they’re on Reed, they’re on Indeed, they’re calling recruiters, they are messaging and going to interviews. I’ve got several members in my family that followed this route. It’s incredible what fear does to people and how ignorant we are to not leverage that. I think that taking this unreasonable approach is the quickest way to build excellence.
Biggest success due to the right customer approach
- When that issue with Hailey and City Relay happened, one of the other things that I quickly stumbled upon that I still do today is I realized that the biggest flaw within my process was that I wasn’t auditing my team. I was accepting their reasonings and rational, but I wasn’t creating a structure.
- What has happened since then, which has really accelerated our ability to deliver ROY, is every 6-8 weeks, I will hire an outside contractor for 1-2 hours to review my staff work. Then I will share the results with my staff and I’ll say these are the flaws, fix them or within two months, you’ll be gone, or give me a rational for why those flaws are actually nonsense. In the instance where they provide pushback and say those flaws aren’t accurate, I’ll get another contractor and if that contractor validates the flaws, then I’ll say you’re just talking nonsense because I’ve had two independent parties verify that that is a problem and that process has led to incredible growth in our ability to actually deliver ROY because everybody knows now that game on!
Deepak’s most recommended tool
- When I say color, I think you need to add emotions to any level of communication. I think when people can see, hear, or sense that you care, it’s a big thing. So, color is different for different people. I know that I’m quite an enthusiastic speaker. SO, that’s something that I leverage in the use of video and in the use of my voice when I send my client communications. I’ve got Adina, who is in my team, and she’s an introvert. You’ll talk to her and she’s very quiet, she’s quite reticent, however, through the medium of words, she’s able to express her passion. She uses awesome emojis and gifs that seem to bring her words to life. Whereas, when I write stuff, I sound rude. I sound very short, I don’t use emojis, or when I do it feels forced and I’m not able to display my power there. My emotion and the fact that I care.
- I love a tool called Useloom. What I do that’s been very different is whenever I send anything, we very quickly might forget there are two problems: 1, your reader might not understand the linguistic nuances of the industry, 2, the reader may pass it on to someone else and they may look at your proposal and not understand a thing and 3, you can’t really demonstrate how it all fits together or what the pieces are.
Deepak’s key success factor
- I think that execution matters more. For me, it’s the most powerful three words that have accelerated anything that I’ve achieved today, which is if something makes sense in your head, do it. Do it now. When I say that, I mean literally right now. Execution matters more.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get a fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain; I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed.
- In 2014, I lived for 3 months in Lisbon. As part of that trip, I journeyed over to Madeira, which is an archipelago off the coast of Portugal. The reason I was there was to climb the mountain, the formerly active volcano of Madeira and when I say climb, it was to run in a 150km ultra marathon. It ended up being a 27 hour run, it’s started at midnight on a Friday and I finished, battered and broken, on Sunday morning around 5am or so. It had a 50% finish rate; half the people who started did not finish. You had 7200 meters of elevation gain.
- So, close to 10,000 meters up and down, up and down. That whole journey was a lot like businesses. You start off at midnight, excited, happy, chirpy. You get going, things are exciting and interesting for the first 6 hours, there’s lots of chatter. As time passes and you begin to get a bit weary and you begin to get a little bit less buoyant, you see the herd start to thin as people spread out, as people go at their own velocity, and the realization of what waits in front of you begins to slowly ease its way into the run. You team up with a person here or there, some don’t quite make the checkpoint for the cut off, then you find yourself alone again.
- You’re 15 hours in now and it’s 2am, it’s raining, you’re up so high you’re in the clouds, and you ask yourself: why? Why am I here? Why am I doing this? The next 5-10 hours will be just relentless pounding, just doing the same action over and over. Boredom, pain, distraction, all these things enter your mind and you try to find as many reasons as you can to give up or go back.
- For most of us, that’s the journey of entrepreneurship.
Social media links
- Loom – Easy and free screen recorder for Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks. Record your camera and screen with audio directly from your Chrome browser and share the video with your team, friends, and family.
The best way to connect with Deepak:
More resources for Entrepreneurs
- Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
- Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
- Former interview: Christopher Penn: “I’ve been practicing martial arts for almost 30 years. You learn how to you win against someone who is bigger? Stronger than you? who has better funding than you?…”