As job creators, community builders, and mentors, small business owners can have an outsized impact on the economy and the neighborhoods that they call home – but their influence doesn’t stop there.
As experienced business leaders, established merchants can also be invaluable resources and sources of knowledge for newer entrepreneurs. For Don Dodds, the Atlanta-based founder of M16 Marketing, turning his own experience into a way to help others achieve success has been a long-time passion.
Don Dodds, the Atlanta-based founder of M16 Marketing
Don founded his award-winning firm in 2013 to help other startups, small businesses, and large brands navigate the quick-changing online landscape and unlock growth with digital marketing.
He's now looking towards the launch of his new venture this month, DonDodds.com, where he will translate his decades of experience into resources and coaching for other creatives, strategists, and executives who are looking to improve their skills and overcome the challenges that entrepreneurs face in their own ventures.
We caught up with Don to learn more about what inspired him to start M16 Marketing, how PayPal has helped his business grow, and why businesses should make diversity a priority for achieving business success.
Can you share a background on your business, and what first inspired you to start?
Don Dodds: M16 Marketing is an award-winning Atlanta-based web design and full-service digital marketing agency. We provide a broad range of services including strategy, web design, web application development, SEO, SEM and social media services. On average, companies that work with M16 increase conversions by more than 250%. Since our inception in 2013, we’ve won more than 100 awards and served more than 700 clients.
I founded M16 because I saw a need to provide a strategic solution to help businesses embrace digital transformation. It is critical for companies to understand what needs to be done to integrate technology into all areas of their business. We’re celebrating our 10th year and I’m proud that we serve a range of companies across the public sector, manufacturing, healthcare, law, non-profits, wealth management and more.
You’ve written about the importance of hiring a diverse workforce. Can you share why it’s so important to hire diverse talent with differing perspectives?
DD: Diversity should never be seen as a corporate checkbox or thought about just for the sake of an organization being able to identify itself as diverse. In those situations, organizations are only evaluating diversity on a superficial level and not recognizing its actual and meaningful value.
At M16, having a diverse team is fundamentally important to us. We believe that the people you hire should reflect the people that you serve. Our multicolored logo was even designed to reflect this value and represent how we embrace the range of experiences and backgrounds that our team members bring to the table.
Each of us at M16 is enabled to become a better version of ourselves, personally and professionally, because we have the chance to learn from colleagues that have different perspectives and experiences. The ability to teach, share, and grow in this way pushes all of us to have a higher level of individual performance and as a result, achieve company growth.
Which PayPal products do you use and how have they helped your business?
DD: I’ve used PayPal for years, both for M16 and in my previous businesses, because of the security it provides both us and our clients.
We love mitigating risks and maximizing value so PayPal’s brand recognition, secure transactions, fast transfer of funds to our bank, easy-to-use subscriptions and zero subscription fees make it a winner for us. We recommend the PayPal Business Cashback Mastercard® credit card1 in our operations because it has no annual fee, free employee cards and unlimited cash back on purchases.
What has made the biggest difference to the growth of M16 Marketing over the past 10 years?
DD: We put a strong focus on developing our client relationships, so when it comes to scaling, I’m proud that many of our clients find us through referrals made by past clients. Our SEO efforts also help us stand out and attract new business.
Receiving a PayPal Working Capital business loan2 also made a big difference to our growth. The funding ensured that we could expand our team and our reach both nationally and internationally. The fast approvals meant we could access the capital we needed at the moment we needed it and allows us to be able to act as opportunities arise.3
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
DD: When you’re first starting out and establishing your business, there are a few key things to consider. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to the launch of DonDodds.com is to work with entrepreneurs as a digital marketing coach to help them navigate the noise of those early years and make it through successfully.
Overall, I’d recommend that entrepreneurs spend time ensuring that they have properly and fully identified the problem they are trying to solve, whether they want to sell a service or a product. Relationships are also vital to business growth – it’s important to build and sustain connections, ask questions, and learn through listening to others. Finally, it’s fundamentally important to have access to capital and be able to quickly leverage knowledge, time, and resources to keep your business moving forward.
1The PayPal Business Cashback Mastercard is issued by WebBank pursuant to a license by Mastercard International and serviced by Concerto Card Company. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
2The lender for PayPal Working Capital in the United States is WebBank. Applicants must satisfy certain requirements to be eligible, see Terms and Conditions.
3Results and experience may vary.