Spending his year split between two continents, self-described “traveler and entrepreneur” Andrew Steven quit his day job in 2012 and moved to Europe, freelancing for a time before joining forces with a friend to start a business.
Today, High Voltage SEO (hvseo.co) uses a combination of traditional and new SEO methods to deliver real results for clients looking to boost their search ranking and increase high-value web traffic. Dedicating their efforts specifically on SEO rather than diversifying into related fields of web development or social media allows High Voltage SEO to “focus on what we do best.” Recently, High Voltage SEO launched an SEO Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) called Page Optimizer.
Global ambitions from the start
One of the motivators to starting his business was a desire to maintain his “lifestyle of flying around the world”, explains Andrew – despite many warning him it would be more challenging.
“In 2012 I quit my day job and moved to Europe without any real plan. I soon realized that one needs paid work to live – so I picked up some digital marketing freelancing work through a stroke of good fortune.
“Long story short, freelancing became stressful, and after giving away or losing my client base I once again ended up with no income. At that low point, I had a choice – either start again down the same path, or do something completely different and new. I wanted to start a co-working/co-living retreat with my brother on the surf coast of Victoria (Australia), but realized this was going to tie me to one place, which wasn’t my path.
“So I decided to join forces with an SEO friend from the U.S. with whom I’d been collaborating and start a ‘proper’ company. It gave us more security and the chance to scale, which freelancing lacked.
“Along the way I was told by many that given my lifestyle of travelling perpetually, I couldn’t run a successful company. I was so convinced otherwise that I just wanted to prove them wrong!”
This global lifestyle has proven a plus for Andrew and High Voltage SEO, providing a major source of inspiration to him by exposing him to “entrepreneurs around the world who are doing extraordinary things.”
Constantly on the move and looking to upskill and strengthen High Voltage SEO’s offering, he will soon be attending a 10-day productivity retreat – with the personal goal to “learn to build automated marketing funnels to scale our SaaS product.”
From high school to High Voltage
Andrew’s ‘give it a go’ attitude has been a consistent feature in his entrepreneurial journey, which arguably started when he was a 16-year-old high school student.
Due to his own interest in it as a cuisine, he’d been making sushi for himself at home and became disappointed that it wasn’t available in the school canteen. He convinced the woman in charge of the canteen to buy sushi from him wholesale, and this became his first entrepreneurial venture – although it was unfortunately short-lived.
“I soon realized there wasn’t much money in it after I’d bought all the ingredients, so I ended up getting a little creative with how I sourced the ingredients in order to cut costs. It didn’t matter so much in the end, because it wasn’t long before they shut us down as I didn’t have what they considered a ‘sanitary preparation area.’”
Around the world, around the clock
Like many entrepreneurs, Andrew’s line between work and play can be pretty blurry – but the pace and challenges are what keeps him engaged, helped significantly by the strong team he and his business partner have built around them.
He explains that while the business brings its obstacles, there’s ‘nothing he doesn’t mind handling.’
“Ensuring we are bringing in enough new work to keep our team busy can sometimes be stressful. As much as you try and move heaven and earth for clients, sometimes it’s never enough. I haven’t taken a proper, laptop/phone off holiday in many years. I sometimes have to do meetings at quite ridiculous times. Making sure costs don’t get out of control so we maintain profitability is harder than you might think. At the end of the day, I really don’t mind any of it though, it’s never boring.
“I guess I’m most proud of the team we have built. I’m really just a small part in this, building a loyal, passionate, hardworking and fun team based all over the world hasn’t always been easy, but it’s these guys who I’m most proud of.”
Advice to entrepreneurs: be sure you’re fulfilling a need
Andrew’s experience has exposed him to many other startup founders and entrepreneurs, and he says a common mistake is not taking the time to truly understand what consumers need and what they’re willing to pay for it.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come through the location-independent entrepreneur movement over the last few years who have an idea for a business, but their target audience doesn’t really have any money, and the service they’re offering is more of a ‘nice to have’ than a ‘I really need this!’ “
A global web address for a global business
Given the services High Voltage SEO offers, having a strong digital presence is obviously vital. An SEO agency that can’t ‘walk the talk’ through its own website could fail at the first step. As Andrew explains, “we are a purely online company – without a website, we don’t exist!”
When it came time to select a domain name for High Voltage SEO, Andrew wanted something that would convey the company’s modern, innovative style and digital expertise. .CO was an obvious choice.
“I think .com is a bit old-school. Modern tech companies need something fresh and trusted, and I think .CO does that pretty well.”
“While these businesses can also be successful, it’s important not to make the already-difficult process of starting a business, even harder by not planning fully and considering all the angles.”