While many of his peers were using their student loans to go out and have a good time Ryan Walton was investing his into his business. And it has paid off. Aura Ads is quickly closing in on a £1m run rate In its first year. Like all good business people, it was all about spotting that gap in the market and exploiting it. For Ryan, that gap was DTC marketing. This is direct to consumer marketing using video and reaching customers on social media. Ryan already has an impressive roster of clients, which include Huel, Pact Coffee, Abbot Lyon, and Freddie’s Flowers.
These clients send their products to Ryan and his team, and receive professional ready-made video ads to update their social media advertising campaigns. With even more ambitious plans in 2022, Aura Ads is creating a whole new way to advertise online.
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Table of Contents
Welcome to your ValiantCEO exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us about yourself.
Ryan Walton: My name is Ryan, and I am the founder of Aura Ads. We exist to help ecommerce brands scale paid social with scroll stopping performance creative delivered monthly.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get to where you are today? Give us some lessons you learned along the way.
Ryan Walton: I never intended to be a CEO or business owner, it was just something I naturally swayed towards. I stared the business at University and it was simply a merging of skills that I had which were marketing, creative and leadership. In terms of getting where I am today – honestly, I just worked hard. That’s the truth. I genuinely think anyone can be a founder, all it entails is narrowing your focus and working towards that goal – and pushing yourself to get to that goal as quickly as possible.
I’ve learnt so much about myself, about what’s possible in terms of mindset. I think you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
Tell us about your business, what does the company do? What is unique about the company?
Ryan Walton: Aura Ads is a unique performance creative agency designed for D2C eCommerce brands. We help clients sell more online and grow at scale with our bespoke video and static creative delivered monthly. The company is unique in that we portray the clients purpose in every piece of content we create. We go further than the product, we go to the WHY.
How to become a CEO? Some will focus on qualities, others on degrees, how would you answer that question?
Ryan Walton: Look at your skillset and identify what you’re good at. Try to go down a career path that suits your skillset. When it comes to building a business around that skillset, it’s all about mindset. So opening up your mind to learning and having a growth mindset is imperative to succeed in business. You need to be able to take feedback constructively and take your ego out of the equation. By doing that your evolution process will be very quick and you’ll find you can be whatever you want to be.
What are the secrets to becoming a successful CEO? Who inspires you, who are your role models and why? Illustrate your choices.
Ryan Walton: To be successful CEO you need a degree of empathy, humility and grit to be able to get through the hard times. Develop your personal skillset and emotional intelligence. Those are the most important thing because if you go into a situation with a robust view on how you can respond to problems and situations is going to take you through any challenge.
In terms of who inspires me, Steven Bartlett is a big one, not just because of his work in my industry, but because of who he is as a person. He’s very grounded, switched on in terms of self awareness and empathy. I think its important to have someone in your close network who inspires you, not just these people on social media who are out of reach.
Many CEOs fall into the trap of being all over the place. What are the top activities a CEO should focus on to be the best leader the company needs? Explain.
Ryan Walton: Right now my time is best spent on strategy and innovation. You should always be trying to take yourself out of the day to day as soon as possible. You want to be speaking to customers, learning from your customers and trying to build the best product as possible. Spend your time optimising the product or service you’re currently offering. That’s ultimately going to lead to the biggest moving of the needle, because new customer and current customers will notice.
Secondly, if you can double down on your staff and make sure they’re happy and focused on a collective goal, they will be your biggest asset. Your people should be your biggest asset, as you all aim towards one goal.
The Covid-19 Pandemic put the leadership skills of many to the test, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you faced as a CEO/Leader in the past year? Please list and explain in detail.
Ryan Walton: The pandemic didn’t have a noticeable impact in terms of business growth interestingly. If anything it accelerated our growth. The biggest challenge we’re working on is work-life balance and mental health. So when you’re working from home for a business that is trying to scale quickly it puts pressure on your team and yourself as a CEO. Trying to make sure we’re all positive and happy when working from home is essential, and that’s been the biggest challenge during Covid.
In your opinion, what changes played the most critical role in enabling your business to survive/remain profitable, or maybe even thrive? What lessons did all this teach you?
Ryan Walton: The biggest mistake I have seen is risk-aversion. I’ve seen a lot of business owners not rise up to the challenge of the pandemic, even thought it was tough, there were a huge amount of opportunities for new businesses. There were a lot of business that could have thrived and innovated but chose not to due to the nature of the pandemic. I think it really demonstrated who the strongest leaders are.
It’s important not to roll over when these things happen, it’s important to always be innovating and looking for opportunities because there always will be. There will be opportunities you can have over your competitors during a time like this – it sounds brutal but it’s really important that business leaders remain focused on their core business and don’t constantly avoid risk,
What are some of the greatest mistakes you’ve noticed some business leaders made during these unprecedented times? What are the takeaways you gleaned from those mistakes?
Ryan Walton: Half of it was being really clear on who your market is: so we only work with ecommerce businesses, and ecommerce businesses of a certain size as well. On top of that, we target industries that we know are thriving. Focusing on that market has allowed us to grow our revenue by 10x over the past 12 months.
Second to that, having a really clear and easy-to-understand process of how you deliver work to the client. That way we know how to delivery the process to a specific client, and deliver it really well.
So it’s about the fundamentals, be clear on who your target market is and segment it. And have a really clear internal process on how you deliver your service.
What is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Ryan Walton: The biggest challenge at the moment is scaling. How do we scale without impacting the quality of our work?
Naturally as an agency, one you have a certain amount of people in the business it becomes a lot more difficult to maintain quality across the board and drive creativity when there is a high amount of work to do by a certain time.
This will continue to be a challenge as we continue to grow our revenue.
You already shared a lot of insights with our readers and we thank you for your generosity. Normally, leaders are asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is the most useless skill you have learned, at school or during your career?
Ryan Walton: Honestly the majority of my business course at University was pretty useless. It was very theoretical – quoting people from 40 tears ago 0- it wasn’t practical information I could put into practice straight away and it wasn’t relevant to what I’m doing now.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Ryan Walton: The most difficult decision I made was doubling our prices. Because you feel like you’re going to lose half your clients overnight. But the impact has been substantial, we’ve doubled revenue and profitability. It’s been massively beneficial for us, as it’s allowed us to hire more people which not only scales the business but improves the quality of the assets we’re producing for the customers – it makes the increased cost-justified both internally and externally.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Ryan Walton for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Ryan Walton or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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