The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team. We noticed that many small businesses get a website and then kind of forget about it. Amer Sikira is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Amer Sikira. Since a very young age, I’ve been in love with code and trying to figure out how it works. So, naturally, my calling became web development. During the first years, I focused on learning different programming languages, tech stacks, etc.
Lately, I have become more interested in website and conversion optimization (CRO). To take my business to the next level, I started Poppy Websites with two of my friends (one is an experienced copywriter, and the other is an experienced UI/UX designer). We are focused on creating aesthetically pleasing, yet highly converting websites.
We also educate CEOs, founders, and owners that not optimizing their websites is an expensive mistake. When you create a website once and leave it, you lose money on maintenance and design, and get almost nothing, if anything, in return. Our dream audience is early-stage startups. Because of our experience, we can build those websites quickly and with few iterations.
This means it’s affordable for them too. Plus, with our experience, we can provide valuable advice and help. They’re basically getting three free marketing consultants when they hire us to create their website.
What did it take/how did you get started?
We noticed that many small businesses get a website and then kind of forget about it. They complain it’s not working so they think that websites aren’t for them. But in fact, their websites just weren’t made to support their businesses. Local agencies and entrepreneurs put 90% of their focus on design but they don’t think about copy, user experience and conversions.
By creating websites that focus on these things, we want to show local entrepreneurs that they can grow their businesses with a website. Secondly, while we were talking to different people, we also noticed that early-stage startups have a similar need. They’re typically more aware of how websites work, but they’ve got so many things going on that they don’t have time to optimise it themselves.
Since it’s a market we’re also familiar with, we decided to shift our attention there while also keeping the line open to work with local businesses.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
On the surface web design and development become more and more competitive every day. But website optimization not so much. Plus, it's really hard to find experts in this field. One may think what about AI? The deal with AI is that it needs really good prompts, actionable and almost "drawn". AI can't do anything on its own.
Plus, it may seem like AI understands human psychology and needs, but it's not like that. AI is a danger to those who are in the field and they're not willing to use it, but it's not a threat to those who use it to improve their business. Plus, AI has been in this field for years (in some capacity) when it comes to data processing, and it still hasn't overtaken humans. Since the first sale was made to this day tools have changed, but people haven't.
People still want emotion, they want to be understood and they want to feel safe with their choices. It's not the tool that sells the product, but the person that uses it.
What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?
My, personal, motivation comes from my family and friends. Really, everything I do I do for them and because of them. If I was my own motivation, I wouldn't do so many great and interesting things. Especially my daughter. She is the biggest motivator of them all.
Business motivation on the other hand comes from happy customers. The feeling when client is satisfied with the work and when they see their business growing, can't be compared to anything else. Another drive I have is professional. I want to make the world a better place, as much as I can. One person at a time. I want to achieve that through the creation of good software, possibly free, that will serve people and help them solve their problems.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
You are always selling to a person. It doesn't matter if your target market is a single person, small company, medium company, or corporation. There is always a person sitting behind a computer reading what you wrote and experiencing what you have built. This is the core principle.
Don't be attached to tools, programs, cheat sheets, or tricks, be attached to your ICP. Understand what makes them tick and do everything in your power to solve their problem. That's the only way to gain trust. People buy with their emotions and only later justify with their brains. But there is no sale without trust.
What has been the hardest part of your business journey?
Stay motivated and keep going. When you're a new kid in the block no one trusts you. You face a lot of rejection. Still, new day, new opportunity. Even though I knew I was capable of doing what I claimed I had to prove myself over and over again, until the first person said yes. The first yes is the hardest. After that, everything became so much easier.
How have you managed burnout thus far?
Loving what you do is a curse and a blessing at the same time. Sometimes, we tend to push a bit harder, just because we love what we do, and we don't notice small changes until it's too late. I faced two major burnouts in the 10 years of my professional career.
The first time I changed my place of living, company, way of life, everything. But I didn't change one thing and that led to the second burnout two years later. Not as bad, but still pretty severe. That one thing was taking time for myself and realizing that the company wouldn't fall apart in two days. In these last several years whenever I feel like I am pushing too hard, I take a step back. Turn off my phone (or simply ignore it) for a day or two and spend that time with my family and friends, or just in nature. This helped a lot, but still, the biggest thing is that I realized that the company won't be bankrupt in two days.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
I recommend reading and listening to other people's stories. The Diary of a CEO is an excellent way of learning how people deal with their lives, successes, and losses. It gives another perspective. One that can be beneficial for your own life. Almost any book is good if read properly. But if you want to get into website optimization then I would suggest reading books about copy and people first. Excellent books on these topics are "Building a StoryBrand" and "Start With Why". Really great book on CRO itself is "Making Websites Win". It's like the ABCs of CRO.
List the founders
Kjell Vandevyvere, Edin Bjelopoljak, Amer Sikira
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
# of Employees?
When did you start?
3 months ago
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
It's self-funded, no raised amount
What's the #1 thing you need right now?