The Electric Chris Keller on Sharks, Being an Entrepreneur, and Managing Time
Welcome to Entrepreneur Tour— a series featuring entrepreneurs from all over the world, in all kinds of fields, doing amazing work and killing it. This month features Chris Keller, Owner/CEO of Rightly Marketing based in New York, USA.
What inspired you to launch your own company, Rightly Marketing?
Necessity. After leaving my 9-5 in 2016, I was a freelancer/consultant for the next year. Taking ANY & ALL business I could get. It was my gig, and I was in charge of how much I made. Little did I know that would be one of the toughest years of my life. While I had plenty of clients, I was doing work I wasn’t passionate about and working WAY too much. Other parts of my life were suffering and I didn’t go out on my own to live that kind of a burnout life.
I started the Rightly Marketing brand in early 2018 to focus on the kind of work I love doing. This allowed me the ability to be more strategic with the clients I work with, and have the work/life balance I wanted. I was also able to build strategic partnerships with other companies (ex: HubSpot) to help grow my business the right way.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Recently, I’ve been trying to keep to a strict routine to create more predictable outcomes that can be scalable over time. Some changes I made were getting up earlier (no later than 5:30 am), Eating a protein packed breakfast, starting & finishing my day reading a half hour, etc. These types of activities were lacking in my life and are leading me to live a healthier and clearer life.
I’ll start working at around 7 am. Early in the week, I blog off time to do our weekly client update emails that every client gets. These are comprised of tasks delivered prior week, roadblocks, outstanding deliverables and goals for the week. Throughout my week, I block my calendar off to work on specific clients. Not tasks for the clients, but time for that client in general. That could include update meetings, copy editing, design editing, or anything associated with their campaign. There’s also time blocked off for professional development, new business (prospecting & outreach), and core agency activities like invoicing & billing.
That’s a high-level overview of how I structure my week, but every individual day is totally different!
What’s something someone once said to you to make you want to prove them wrong?
“He should have never left his job”. Some guy who thinks he knows something said this to my best friend about me. I think about it regularly. His motivations came from jealousy about me leaving a great job (one that he couldn’t get), to pursue a life I was more proud of. I don’t hate him for it, actually, I thank him for it. It helps fuel me when I’m dragging a little bit. He thinks I can’t do it. But did it, and continue to do it. So, it’s time to hug a hater and say thank you.
What’s your favorite accomplishment so far?
Hands down being able to create something (from nothing) that can support my family. It’s so cool to think about. I reflect on it on a regular basis. I’ve built a book of business at my agency, we’re solving real problems, and it’s mine.
What’s something you’ve done that makes you proud to think about?
This is going to sound corny, but I’m proud that I’ve been able to build a profitable business. A lot of entrepreneurs worry about profitability after growth, but we’ve been profitable since day one, without any outside investment. I’m very proud of that. I’m also proud that I’ve started to standardize processes at my agency because if you told me I’d create processes for anything 2 years ago I would have said that you’re crazy!
What’s been the hardest thing about running your own company?
Prioritizing the things you need to do today vs. next week. There’s no one to help you with that. It’s your job to stay organized and deliver as much value as possible. Prioritizing tasks & deliverables is one of my toughest challenges. There’s always so much to do, and prioritizing helps make the time for those life moments you want to experience outside of the company.
What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
There are a couple things I love about being an entrepreneur. The first is freedom & control. You are the person who decides when you work when you rest and where you go. You can relocate if you want to, or travel around the globe. The possibilities are endless. The second is the opportunity to inspire other people who potentially want to be entrepreneurs. Sharing my stories, both wins, and losses can help shape someone's journey into the entrepreneurial worls, which is pretty powerful. It also gives me the ability to reflect on the progress I’ve made over time.
How do you find balance in your life working as an entrepreneur?
You’ll never find balance unless you make yourself. Being an entrepreneur will consume your life. So, if you don't prioritize finding balance, it’ll never magically appear and find you. It takes an effort to find it. Not to sound negative, but you will lose all of your personal relationships if you don’t focus on keeping and building them. Make yourself have date nights, disconnect, and recharge with those who you care most about. If you don’t then what’s the point? If you’re an entrepreneur that only cares about themselves, then by all means, sever those relationships. But I built my business for myself, my friends and my family. To be able to positively impact their lives. I have a unique ability to be able to do that by creating life experiences with them due to the flexibility of my business. Life experiences are important. Those are your legacy, not your business.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Being an entrepreneur can very easily become all about you. But in reality, it doesn’t have much to do about you. It’s always about solving a problem for your customer. Always be customer-centric in everything you do. An entrepreneur is only as good as the last problem they solve.
What are your top three books recommendations for fellow entrepreneurs?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo: This book helped guide me to what I’m doing with my life.
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson: This book helped me reframe my daily life to be set up for success.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: This book helped me effectively communicate with everyone in my life.
Favorite dinosaur and why?
Oh man. I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan. I would say the Raptor. Mostly because they don’t care how big the other dinosaurs are, they’ll attack & win. Also, they’re very strategic and collaborative in their attacks. They hunt in teams and win as one.
But one of my FAVORITE things is a shark, mostly because of this quote:
“Do sharks complain about Monday? No. They’re up early, biting stuff, chasing shit, being scary. Reminding everyone they’re a fucking shark.”
That’s what I’m talking about!