A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World With Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin runs most of the show at SparkToro. He was formerly co-founder and CEO of Moz, co-founder of Inbound.org, and author of Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he does have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and is deeply passionate about making SparkToro a great company (at least, by his own peculiar standards).


July 31, 2018 35 mins Download (MP3)


01:26 Imagine you just had the best day of your life. Where are you going to eat, and what are you ordering in order to make your day complete?
03:15 Tell me about a time you felt lost or blind in business. What was it like, and how did you overcome it?
05:37 Do you think something all businesses should do is to absorb themselves into another business, see how they run and take back any useful practices found to implement in your own business?
06:48 Your book, Lost and Founder. Why did you do it, and why should we read it?
08:20 You were the CEO of Moz, which I think is one of the forerunners in the SEO space. What were some of things that you learned from a leadership perspective about growing the company to where it was when you left Moz?
10:27 What were some of the ways in which you were able to obtain your first 100 customers for Moz?
13:04 Do you think that businesses today can adopt that ‘give first’ mentality; that resource/value mentality to build their business to where they want it?
14:11 Do you think there’s a time constraint with regards to how often you have to develop and give value before you start seeing results?
16:53 Is there anything that you’re seeing on the horizon in terms of SEO in 2018 that you could recommend to business, especially startups?
20:46 Could you speak a bit about your bromance with Will?
22:44 Did you always have this swag in your fashion, or were you the stereotypical nerdy guy?
23:49 Could you give some words of wisdom as to why balance for an entrepreneur is so important?
27:02 What does it feel like to call yourself an author and signing so many copies of your first book for so many people?
28:24 What is your dream?
29:47 The Blind Entrepreneur podcast was created for those individuals that may be temporarily blind in business. To those individuals, what are 3 pieces of advice that you could share with them?

How Rand Fishkin Obtained His First 100 Customers

Moz’s first 100 customers were probably consulting clients from 2001 to 2007. We actually struggled to get these clients until near the end of that period. We obtained them primarily through networking, booths at events, Craigslist ads, et cetera; it was quite a task. The next stage was when customer acquisition became really easy for us; it started sometime in 2005 and went until 2007. This was mostly due to the blog I had called Seo Moz – it became a SEO hub for people looking to know more about it; it ended up ranking well in search engines, and bringing a lot of new traffic. I also started speaking at conferences. As a result, I think we found our marketing stride with the blog and speaking engagements.

Rand Fishkin’s Dream

Well, I’m a guy that has high self-expectations – I believe that I’m capable of building special things, while leveraging whatever I build. Be it wealth, relationships, good advice… I think it’s my duty to share those things. Therefore, my dream was to build a successful business that has a great product and does good for the community, investors and so on. I would also want to leverage this to be able to give back.

Three Pieces of Advice From Rand Fishkin

My first bit of advice is self-care is not something that is indulgent; it’s not something that’s forbidden or you need to earn to deserve. You need to take care of yourself, forgive your mistakes and accept yourself for who you are. You also need to be kind; in doing so, you can be kind to others. Secondly, if you’re struggling in your business, spend time with your customers. Both personal and professional. It doesn’t have to be with your entire base; just a few will suffice. And third piece? If you’re just starting out, and you’re struggling because you think you’re not doing something that you believe is mandatory, consider changing your perspective.