1. How has Overflow Cafe evolved since it first got started in 1995?
When Overflow Cafe started in 1995, it was a one-man home business. As I remember it, the company was started on a dining room table with a monthly budget of about $20. A while later the company moved into a bedroom office and a budget of $100, and then a few months later a full basement with an employee and a monthly budget of $500, then around 1996 or 1997 a traditional real office with small staff and a few thousand dollars a month in operating budget--we were making some money.
Overflow Cafe used to do several business services: website design, business consulting, and business marketing. Our clients told us we were great at making their business popular, so we decided to stick to that, and today our focus is to make your website popular, and we don't do web design. Today we have over 40,000 clients worldwide, about 17 full time employees plus part time employees, 2 offices and over 100 partners who are software engineers, SEO specialists and MBAs who help us do fantastic work for our clients.
2. Why do small businesses need assistance when it comes to finding success online?
A person might be a great hair stylist and then think they can start their own salon. A person might be an amazing electrician, and then start their own contracting company. Usually they fail, not because they are bad at what they do--but because they are bad at running a business. Running a business is a completely different skill set than the product or service you offer. That's where Overflow Cafe comes in: we help you with business planning, we do a lot of online marketing for you, and we help you achieve your business goals with solid training and realistic planning and proven marketing. I like to think of it as gaining a skilled business partner.
3. Could you give us some examples of the type of work Overflow Cafe does to help your clients?
We have clients in many different countries, different languages and cultures. We service just about any business you can imagine, from hot air balloon manufacturers to plumbers, realtors, doctors, authors, artists, retailers and more. When you sign up with us, we scan through your website and help you correct errors and build your site into a healthy, profitable, productive business asset. We then match you up with hundreds of great internet properties such as search engines, business directories, social sites and get you plugged in properly so that you gain website rankings, traffic, popularity and hopefully lots of new customers.
4. What particular services does Overflow Cafe offer clients with crowdfunding campaigns on sites like Kickstarter?
We've been telling our clients about wonderful crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo since they started. A lot of our clients have completed successful crowdfunding campaigns (there have been plenty of failed campaigns as well). We help our clients by consulting with them, helping them start on the right track and helping them to manage their success after the campaign is over. Crowdfunding helps you build momentum, and without the right partners by your side, you can lose that momentum and fail. These days too many people start a business or project without the right partners and without the right planning to succeed. Just starting something doesn't guarantee success; there are so many other variables.
5. Reflecting on Overflow Cafe's charitable contributions and volunteer work, what would you recommend to other entrepreneurs about "giving back"?
Our small staff is required to do regular volunteer work at a place of their choice in the community. This winter it seems like we are doing a lot of snow shoveling for the elderly, but we also do soup kitchen work, homeless shelter work, and stuff like that. It helps keep life in perspective and keeps us healthy. Financially, our company gives as much as we can, and we make it a point to give regularly. This year (2014) we are giving towards several orphanages and teen programs. I recommend other entrepreneurs plan to give of their time and money. There's just something great about giving that enriches your life far beyond what money can give you. The most unhappy people I've ever known, the people who are pretty much failures in life, are usually people who are stingy with their giving.