Young Money: Caitlin talks with Sean Macaluso
blog by Caitlin Campbell McNulty • January 18, 2012 @ 9:40am
As a young professional, the thought of starting your own business can be daunting, exhilarating, overwhelming and exciting all at once. There are myriad factors to consider, but—at some point—if you’re going to do it, you just have to close your eyes and make the jump.
Sean Macaluso, the founder of social media consulting firm The Mac Groups, took his own leap. Building from the ground up, Macaluso has proven to his clients that not only is social media here to stay, but sometimes it pays to have a professional manage your online brand.
I sat down with him to chat about the trials and tribulations of owning your own business, what pumps him up and the future of social media.
Caitlin Campbell McNulty: How did you get started in the social media entrepreneurship world?
Sean Macaluso: I was working for another company doing digital and social media, but the social component was more of a hobby. Eventually, I decided to fire my boss and started my own company so I could be in control. In April, I’ll have owned my own business for three years.
CM: What was the beginning like?
SM: Social media was a hobby for me, but I knew I could make it work. I decided to go out on a limb and have a chance to be my own boss. I started with two plastic surgeons as clients and built the business by freelancing and through referrals. Wilson Farms was my first major client. When I started with them they had 1,800 fans on Facebook. Today they have 44,000.
I also learned to be persistent. The Buffalo Sabres were my second major client. I called them 12 times before they would meet with me, let alone sign a contract. What finally did it was that their marketing director lived near my office, was walking his dog one day and realized I had a physical brick-and-mortar, location. That legitimized my business.
CM: How do you deal with rejection?
SM: Hearing no is ok with me—there are still a million more businesses whose doors I can knock on. I hear no five times a day, but to me, rejection is when your job starts. I want to show everyone who doubts me the true value of social media—why and how it works. If you’re confident about your product and know your audience, then what’s the worst that can happen?
CM: What made you pull the trigger to start your business?
SM: I made a pro/con list for owning my own business versus working for someone else. I was confident in my product and knew that I was 150% willing to do the hard work to succeed. I honestly knew that I would work harder for myself than I would for anyone else.
CM: What’s the scariest part of owning your own business?
SM: The future, but in a good-scary kind of way. Social media is growing and everyday is a new opportunity to grow my company.
CM: What’s the best part?
SM: I control my destination. The sky is the limit, you just have to decide what you want to do. What do you want to get out of it?
CM: What surprised you the most?
SM: I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. I always operated under the mantra family first, friends second and business third. Lately it’s starting to reverse and I’m working hard to prevent my time from completely flipping.
CM: What social media trends do you see for 2012?
SM: I think you’re going to see Facebook go mobile. It’s easier to target people on their cell phones so I think Facebook is going to make it even easier to use that way. I think you’ll also see Twitter explode in Buffalo. We’re years behind social media compared to large cities so I think you’re going to see companies really start to wake up and shake things up. I also think you’re going to see businesses begin to use YouTube in a really different way. The Old Spice campaign on YouTube really took off. It was interactive and intriguing and I think businesses will want to replicate that.
CM: Is LinkedIn as cool as the others?
SM: Definitely. It’s Facebook for adults. LinkedIn lets you work smarter, not harder. I can play around on LinkedIn for two to three hours and come away with three appointments for potential clients.
CM: Anything else you want to add?
SM: I am so thankful for everyone who gave me a shot when I was starting out. People do business with people they like and I could have heard a lot more “no’s.” If you give me a shot, it’s over, I know we can help you.
With my kind of business, it’s easy to pack up and go viral, but I’m a true Buffalonian at heart. I live in the city. My friends, family and girlfriend all live here. I want to stay here and grow my business. I’d like nothing more than to create a workplace wonderland for adults on the waterfront. People would want to go there to work every day and build their lives here in Western New York.