Brian Andrews is founder and CEO of Wallet Zen. He began his career in the finance world as an advisor in a finance firm where he worked for 10 years.
His forward thinking ideas and creative concepts led him to decide to leave the firm and open his own website offering advice and tips for the everyday consumer. Wallet Zen's offices are located in Chicago, Illinois, where Andrews resides.
Tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Wallet Zen serves as a financial blog and expert guide to achieving financial success. Currently, I write finance articles that range from breaking free of bad credit to the rights and wrongs of personal loan shopping. I am also looking to reach out to individuals who want personal help with their financial situation in any way that is needed as well.
When did you start the business?
Wallet Zen began in June of 2010. I decided in early spring of 2010 that I needed to get out of the financial firm world and go out and help individuals. I knew many people who had questions about finance that ranged from "how much should I put aside each month to plan for retirement?" to "when should my teen start working?" I wanted to develop a trusted site that was credible and would hold all of the answers that a public audience would need to these types of questions.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Before this, I was a financial analyst. This is my first business and I hope to grow the blog into a resource that will allow me to hire more finance experts to work with and tp provide my audience with advice from different angles of finance.
How did you come up with your business idea?
The business idea was simple – I wanted to provide a website where everyday consumers and professionals could go to find answers to their financial needs. I also wanted to build a site where people could go to find answers to questions from others just like them that are in the same situation.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
If you are worried about spending large amounts on marketing and promotions, social media can become your best resource. If you use it correctly, you can create a following by promoting articles and advice to people in your niche. The instant conversations that can start through social media can help to drive business to your site, and it will show your transparency with your consumers.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
In the past two months, I have been able to generate nearly 1,000 followers to the company's WalletZen Twitter feed and 300 fans to our WalletZen Facebook page. In social media, it is all about consistency. If you regularly update, communicate, and generate ideas to your audience, you are bound to see the numbers increase over time. When your audience sees that you are available and ready to help them, they are eager to respond and see what you have to offer them.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Something I found to be different than what I expected was how fast and effectively you can get responses from your audience using social media platforms. You can reach out to so many potential consumers in your audience using social media, but it doesn't stop there. Incorporate social media into a integrated marketing and PR plan for your company and you can begin to reach even more success in your industry. Consistency and transparency can set you apart from the rest, and keeping the communication portals open can show your customers that you truly do care about them.