Growing tired of the corporate grind, Mike and his co-founder Kevin started their digital marketing agency, Prime Digital. Four and a half years later, Prime Digital helps small businesses all over the US and Canada attract more customers through search engine optimization, and web design, among other things. Going into 2021 they focused on making business owners aware of ADA compliance and how it can protect their business and help them save money.
What is website accessibility and ADA compliance?
So website accessibility has to do with making your website accessible to everybody, whether they have some form of disability or not, whether they're blind, colorblind, some kind of motor impairment. ADA compliance is basically making sure that your website complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If somebody's using a screen reader, or if they need to adjust the size of the font on your website, or change the color contrast, whatever makes it easier for them to read it and navigate it, and clearly understand the information on your website, is really what it comes down to. That's what we're trying to spread awareness on nowadays, I would say around 20% of America has some form of disability like that. So we don't want to exclude a fifth of the country from the internet and websites and access to everyday needs, everybody uses the internet. So we want to make sure that it's accessible to everyone.
Why is ADA compliance beneficial to the small business owner?
So it's beneficial to them because if you decide to take some actions in making your website's ADA compliant, the government will give you half of what you spend up to $10,250 back in the form of a tax credit at the end of the year. You do have to be eligible for it so as a small business, you can qualify in one of two ways. You can either have less than 30 full-time employees or be doing under a million dollars a year in annual revenue. If you meet either one of those and if you spend five grand, eight grand, whatever it is, you'll receive half of that spend back in tax credit and you can get that every year that you're eligible for it.
What can business owners do to be compliant?
So I would reach out to a web design agency that can support this, make sure that they understand some of the laws, there's a lot of resources out there. You can use accessibility.com as a good one to catch up and learn a little bit more about what it entails and that's really the first place to start.
I've seen a number of widgets and plugins, to support some of that. Is that what you recommend or is it more of a custom-coded experience to be accessible?
Yeah, so there are a lot of those out there. Unfortunately, there really aren't any shortcuts to compliance. There's a lot of big companies, you'd be surprised that might throw in a plugin, or use one of these overlay tools, but it's not enough to get you in 100% compliance. There are going to be things that people could still poke at and find that might be an issue. There are some evaluation tools that we use to uncover some of those areas of opportunity to clean up the website a little bit. We want to avoid plugins and things like that. It's building a website, it might be a little bit of code, but for the most part, it's just a regular web builder that we can use and making sure that we're following the checklist and making sure that everything that you want on your website is going to be compliant.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
So I belong to a CrossFit gym which is a little bit different than Planet Fitness, or like LA Fitness or something like that, where you go to the gym and you don't talk to anybody, you just kind of workout in. CrossFit is a little bit more personable and I've been going to that same gym for probably seven to eight years now with the same people and working out with them every day. So you obviously get to know these people, they're friends, and I had an opportunity probably four or five years ago. One of the coaches there had a boot camp workout type of class, and I had an opportunity to build a website for her. Once I did that I was able to build rebuild a new design for my gym’s website. Then when people started to get wind of who did these websites, people had no idea what I was doing, they would just see me at the gym, they were asking about work. So once I started to find out that I was the guy for web design, or SEO, or marketing, it just brought me some opportunities to network with people that are in my gym because are business professionals that go there. Myself and a few others that were doing business together, and we worked out together, we ended up starting our own networking group that was a little bit more laid back, not so uptight, just more getting people that we knew could benefit from networking with each other. We had relationships with other people and we started to organically build our own networking group. We all had our own relationships so we would go out and support each other as fundraisers or other networking events that they belong to, stuff for their own companies. We would just kind of be a team and put ourselves in positions of meeting people that we knew each other and wanted to be business with. So it was just an easier way to network. I enjoyed networking in that way, where you weren't pressured to, like, show up at an event and create a relationship out of thin air. You had people that you knew, you're going to these events with your friends, basically. So it was a little bit more organic, and it was just a nice way to develop relationships that way.
How do you nurture these relationships that you've created?
I guess it's a combination of things. I think the go-to for everybody's pretty much social media, especially now with not being able to network as often and especially in person you try to post a little bit more, you know, maybe on Facebook, or Instagram. So on the social media site, I tried to do a mix of that. I'll record a video, post it on LinkedIn, post it in some groups, maybe post some case studies. Probably my best networking tip, in general, is just giving a lot more than you take. It's a back and forth relationship, but you really are in the business of helping people that's just going to be natural and you're just going to naturally want to help people and just give as much as you can, and that's eventually going to come back around to you. It's a lot more than just doing the posting and just hoping the content gets out there. Go out on LinkedIn, see what other people are posting. Can you leave a comment? Can you chime in or engage with their content? Can you share it? Little things like that go a long way for people, especially on a platform like LinkedIn where organic reach is so much more powerful than a Facebook where you're not really reaching as much of your followers as you would think. Even just a few likes and comments and shares, could really spread to a few 100 people, so you never know who that's going to be put in front of. So when it comes to that, I try to just see what other people are doing and repost their content or leave a comment with advice or answer a question. I think that's the best way to nurture your network. Going back to the organic thing, you're not actively looking for business. Just helping people is going to lead to those opportunities to get there.
What advice would you have for those professionals that want to grow their network?
So advice like that, I would say don't beat around the bush. If you're trying to get something out of networking, or you're having conversations with people, you want to be upfront. You don't want to schmooze them too much, you want to build a genuine relationship and you want to say, "Hey, here's what I do, these are the types of people like to do business with," and really, just make them a friend. People like to do business with people they already know that they know, like, and trust. So you want to check off each one of those boxes before even mentioning like, "Hey, let's hop on a call," or offer some kind of business. It's so much easier to get behind a friend than it is a total stranger so if you can genuinely make that type of relationship happen and support each other that way then the networking and business aspect is going to go a lot farther than it would when you just try to jam up instead of thin air like I was talking about earlier. The other thing I would advise is to go to who has your customers. Who already has your client base that you can speak with and benefit from a relationship with and see how you guys can help each other out?
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
If I was 20 again, I would tell myself to just be a little smarter, invest a little bit more in myself, take better care of myself, too. Because at that age you can get away with, you know, running yourself into the ground. You've got a ton of energy, but you forget the developing skills par that's definitely super important. I would tell myself to spend more time on developing my computer skills, my personal skills, getting better at just building rapport, and developing relationships. Those are obviously some important things that if you're able to do early on in your career, it's just going to make you look like a professional. If you develop those skills early on, it's gonna make you seen a little bit more mature, and people are going to want to do business with you. But just being smart and taking care of your body. Maybe reading more, developing little habits like that, that is absolutely going to set yourself apart from everybody else. At that age, everyone is probably partying and not taking school seriously are things like that. I know that was me and if I had even just tweaked a couple of little things like getting out of bed earlier, something like that. I think would impact where you're at 10 years later.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I had trouble narrowing it down to one person, I did get it down to two. They kind of overlap a little bit. So I'm actually, I'm still in mourning, but I'm a big Kansas City Chiefs fan even though I'm in New York. I've been a fan my whole life, and we just got destroyed in Super Bowl. I would love to meet or have a conversation with Patrick Mahomes. But I would probably narrow it down between him or Paul Rudd. He's hilarious and is probably my favorite actor. I think if I like to ask around, I could probably connect with somebody in the NFL somewhere around here, that could probably connect to another guy that's played with somebody that's played with someone on the Chiefs maybe that I can even get in touch with maybe Mahomes. Or even get in touch with somebody on the Chiefs that knows Paul Rudd. I think that could be done in six degrees, I'd really have to figure out who the best resource that would be, but I think it is possible.
Any final words of advice offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Yeah, it's pretty simple. You don't get we don't ask for so don't be afraid to comment on some of these posts, or share it, or ask them if they know somebody. You're there to help people and if you can do that, they're going to help you right back because it's a cyclical thing. There's so much stuff going on that the more positivity that you can put out there, I think it just works exponentially. You spread it here and there, and people are going to do the same for others. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there, and you never know what you're gonna get back.
Connect with Mike:
Phone Number: 516-500-1080