Business In:Brief with Evan Cunningham-Dunlop (Living Online)
Founder and CEO of Living Online - 2009-present
Evan Cunningham-Dunlop is the founder and CEO of Living Online, a Perth-based marketing agency that specialises in content marketing, consulting and strategy, web design, remarketing, multi-channel campaigns, and email marketing for Australian businesses. Living Online is dedicated to providing Aussie businesses with the marketing tools they need to grow organic search traffic, build their brand, increase sales revenue and generally scale their businesses effectively.
Evan has more than 17 years of direct digital marketing experience, having worked on some of the world's most highly trafficked websites. He also has previous experience in technology management consulting and broadcast television. Find out more about Evan, who he admires, his advice to others and his very early initiation into the world of business below.
What was your first job?
When I was about 10 years old I launched and ran a neighbourhood car washing business with my two best friends. Looking back on those years, I'm still really proud of it. The business operated by scheduled appointment. We walked the neighbourhood with a clipboard during the weekday nights, timing our visits for once people got home from work and fully booking out our weekend. We focussed on quality from the get-go and it really paid off. While most of our competitors were trawling the neighbourhood with a bucket full of dirty water and a sponge, we were being rewarded with repeat bookings, referrals and enough income to buy all the latest computer games and gadgets.
The experience taught me the basics of business management; we maintained a basic account ledger, kept cash in reserve and made sure to replenish our inventory of consumables. We also learned to listen to our customers, one of whom gave us the pro-tip of using old newspapers to clean the windows for a lint-free finish!
What's your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is building livingonline.com.au, our digital marketing agency. It's been 11 years of relentless work, but I get an immense amount of satisfaction from seeing what we achieve on a daily basis. The team is extremely bright and super talented. We have a tremendous culture which is simultaneously extremely supportive and also focussed on delivering exceptional results for our clients.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
It continues to astound me how quickly technology evolves. The intense rate of change creates endless opportunity.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
We have the enviable position of receiving high volumes of referrals from our happy customers, so historically much of our growth has been reactive to the opportunities as they presented themselves. It's now time for us to ramp things up and practice what we preach when it comes to our sales and marketing processes. Importantly however, we're also going to stay true to our focus of solving hard problems and generating quality outcomes – there's always plenty of demand for people who do things well.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
It's hard to go past Elon Musk. I'm an avid fan of what he's achieved with Tesla and SpaceX. Aside from the pure tenacity, I admire the way that Musk started with an outlandishly ambitious strategic intent and then reverse engineered the pathway to success. It's an immense achievement to have been able to create transformative impacts in so many different industries.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Take care of your team and they will take care of your customers.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
Don't look for the easy way out or be seduced by the noisy forums promising the secret solution to automated success. There are no shortcuts. Focus on quality and strive to be the best. If you work hard, then you can do it.
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