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Chicago's Young Entrepreneurs - Connectual


Aaron Goldman, Managing Partner of Connectual 
We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. No one understands this better than this week’s Chicago Young Entrepreneur, Aaron Goldman. This 31-year-old is a self-professed serial blogger (he writes about 15) and formed his company to “connect” buyers and sellers of digital marketing solutions. Aaron has already secured business from a number of influential clients in his industry and shows no signs of slowing down in his digital marketing company, Connectual.
314 W. Superior, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654
Managing Partner: Aaron Goldman
Start Date - April 1, 2009

How did you come up with the name of your company?

I actually came up with the company name before I came up with the business model. About a year ago, one of my friends pointed out how well-connected I am and I said, "Yeah, that's what I do. I'm connectual." I bought the domain name later that night. 

Why did you decide to open your business?
With the economy in recession, digital marketing is one of the few areas still showing growth. As a result, everyone and their mother is trying to get into the space. This has thrown the supply and demand curve out of whack. There's now a web development shop on every corner and in every basement!

There's a need for people like me that have been around the digital space for a while and have a ton of connections to help marketers cut thru the glut of providers and smoke and mirrors that many of them put up.

As for the providers, they need people like me to help bring them new business. Everyone's desperate for revenue right now. A few years ago, these companies would not have worked with an outside rep like me to get them new leads and close deals. Today, they're happy to take the business wherever it comes from.

What have you achieved with your company thus far?
The offering has been well-received by both buyers and sellers. Marketers love the free consulting and network of trusted partners I bring to the table. And providers have been thrilled to find a new source of qualified leads.

I've been fortunate to latch on to three best-in-class companies – Resolution Media, Elevate Studios, and Cardlytics – and I am doing retainer-based sales and marketing consulting for them. I've also built up a referral network of over 30 providers that I can tap for niche projects.

What has been difficult about running a business? What disappointments have you experienced since becoming a business owner?
The biggest challenge is prioritizing. Every day there are new opportunities I can pursue. I have to remind myself to be patient and stick to the business plan.

It has been shown that one's entrepreneurial ability is determined by these four attributes: initiative, decision-making, innovation and risk-taking. In which attribute are you the strongest and why?
Innovation rings true for me. Digital marketing moves at a crazy pace. In order to compete and win, you have to constantly be one step ahead. To use a hockey analogy, you have to skate to where the puck is going.

I've been fortunate to work at firms on the cutting-edge of internet advertising. The first company I worked at out of school got acquired 5 times in my 5 years there. That experience taught me to be nimble and don't get married to any one idea, or company for that matter!

The bottom line in the digital space is innovate or die. I choose life!

What advice do you have for aspiring young entrepreneurs?
Stay disciplined and don't chase the money. If something isn't a fit or core to your business, let it pass. There will be other opportunities that are more in your wheelhouse.

For more info: Connectual
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