Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in advertising services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Timothy Ito, Co-Founder of Marketing Nice Guys, located in Arlington, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I co-run a marketing agency called Marketing Nice Guys that my partner and I founded about 2 years ago. Our customers are primarily small-to-midsize business owners who need digital marketing support. We provide services across the spectrum of marketing, including search and programmatic advertising, email marketing, content development, social media, website development, as well as strategy and analysis.

Tell us about yourself

There's a line from the movie Heat, which came out in 1995, in which the character, Neil, played by Robert De Niro, says: "I am never goin' back." He's referring to prison in this case. But I think about that line when it comes to going back and doing a corporate job somewhere. The truth is, I am never going back to working for someone else, either. At least, that's my plan. And you might say, in a strange way, that motivates me because I don't really want to go back at this point. I also feel like there are so many small businesses out there that we can really help. Maybe those are businesses that could use better practices or more understanding of how promotion and the entire marketing funnel work in reality. The field has also become really technical and specialized, so it's hard for a lot of small businesses to try to do this on their own. That's where we come in to help.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I would say just developing a sustainable business by year 2. When we started, we weren't sure if it would work. And developing a company from scratch, which we did, is not easy for anyone, especially given the fact that we didn't start with a lot of operating capital. From our perspective, I think that's the most satisfying thing - to have developed the business and built it without needing outside capital loans or investors and really just digging into content creation and the awareness side of promotion.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The hardest part is really juggling all the roles. You have to take care of finances, make sure the work gets done, do taxes, and not forget about your own marketing and the need to create content. It means long days, but all very satisfying since we love this stuff.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Work hard but with a direction toward something. Obviously, if you're starting any business, it takes a lot of work. And you shouldn't let anyone tell you otherwise. There's nothing easy about starting your own business. That said, I think it's also important to note that you have to work hard in a particular direction and be strategic about it, especially from a marketing standpoint. A lot of the work we do is focused on creating content around a particular topic (maybe a download or doing webinars) and then following up with those individuals on that topic. We work hard, yes, but it's with a strategy in mind, in other words.
  2. Think long-term. We get that a lot of businesses needed money yesterday, but I think it's also important to grow a business over time. It takes time to get market penetration and become known. Take the time to do content, for example, that helps you establish a presence for the long term. Also, consider the longer-term for advertising as many times advertising doesn't really convert immediately.
  3. Understand what you're willing to do and not do. Some things you may not like. Can you hire people to do that? Remember, it's important to work hard and save money, but it's your venture, so get help if you don't want to do something. Just make sure you can afford it. It will save your sanity and keep you in the game for the long haul.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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