Interview with Dean Hua from Sachi Studio

I’ve “meet” Dean Hua on the social networking platform Xing, where he is one of the moderators of the Entrepreneurs Playground group. He is a Small Business Entrepreneur running a company called Sachi Studio – Web Design and Marketing Strategies which makes him perfect for an interview on blog. I was amazed to see so many similarities with my own entrepreneurship experience, so here is what I found out (in a random order as the Skype discussion went along):

Cristian:So what’s the secret ingredient to be successful in such a crowded market as Web design? What’s special about your services to attract customer?

Dean: As you mentioned, Web Design is a quite crowded marketplace and I’m competing against the World. I specialize in Web and blog design, lightweight CMS and I do localized SEO strategies. So I’m usually the best person to talk to if the client needs all these 3 services coming from only one provider. Not all Web design companies do all 3 things simultaneously. With a decent knowledge base of social media and Web 2.0 related topics, I found that I add a lot of value to businesses who want to position their online presence in that realm. I know there are quite a few web designers with knowledge in this realm, but it’s really interesting to see how much of the local customer base don’t know anything about this. Hence, I’ve found it helpful to target my services to some of the localized population here in the Washington DC area.

Cristian: Do you actually have a niche of customers or going wide?

Dean: I don’t necessarily target a certain vertical market right now or a certain industry like technology or healthcare, but what I found out is that I have to narrow down my target. It’s really about target specific customers that need my services – small companies that want to use CMS or blogs as a way to communicate with their customer or to bring more customers.

I do have one case study where I helped a realtor develop a new website and weblog. I can proudly say that through my services of web and blog design, blog consulting, and localized search engine optimization strategies, she was probably able to double her income. Considering that she is a 20 year veteran of her business, that is saying a lot. You can read up on the case study here

Cristian: What would you say is the best way of getting customers for a company like yours? Networking? Events? Web techniques? Referrals?

Dean: I do a little bit of everything, offline networking events and also online networking on Ryze, Xing or Linkedin that gets me a nice portfolio of business contacts that I can tap into. I don’t do a lot of online advertising, but I can’t really say that I’m doing anything different than others.

I am working on a couple of articles and reports for niche markets. I’d like to finish a report on how realtors who work in hypergrowth real estate markets can benefit from a blog. Unlike some of the other consultants who evangelized the benefits of real estate blogging, I am more interested in creating a holistic web publishing approach to the real estate market. I want to talk about how a weblog and a website should play one cohesive approach to a realtor’s online presence. I want to tailor the approach specifically towards any realtor who is serving a real estate market that is averaging above average market returns.

Cristian: You’re putting up a nice blog so, how does blogging help your small business?

Dean: I don’t really blog that often. I think I blog once every 3 weeks or so, and it’s a little bit about everything. It’s really a way for me to express and articulate what’s on my mind. What I’m really using it for is e-blast my network of friends and business friends 2 or 3 times a year to let them know what’s new with me and as a way to keep in touch.

For example I went skydiving recently. I learned a lot about the adventure and how ti applies to business and life. I will probably use this experience as a story in my blog and use it as the centerpiece of my next eblast. I think everyone and especially entrepreneurs have a lot of stories to share. It’s really important for me to share my stories and the stories that I’ve learned from others through online mediums such as a blog.

I would also point to a blog that Seth Godin recently made about those who don’t blog often:

He says:

Having a blog is pretty daunting, especially if you don’t like blank paper and are the sort of person that hates falling behind. I can imagine that the idea of posting 50 or 300 times a year is a little bit nuts for many people.

But what if there’s just one thing you need to say, but you can say it clearly and well and in a way that hasn’t been said before? What if you’ve got one great blog post inside of you, and, even better, you’re willing to update that post as you learn more and gain more insight?


Cristian: I’ve got to know you as being one of the moderators of the “Entrepreneur playground group” on Xing. You’re also involved in a number of other social networking projects like Ryze or Linkedin. Why do you do that?

Dean: Because I can. Ok, in all seriousness, I joined most of the major ones just to see what they are like. More for curiosity and to see what the latest hoopla is all about. I rarely spend that much time on them nowadays. I’m one of those early adopters of social media and am interested to see what is out there and how it can be applied from a marketing standpoint.

Cristian: What was the most glorious moment of your entrepreneurship experience so far?

Dean: This is actually a good question, I think having my first customer was a great moment and a great feeling. Hmm…. good question, though. I’m actually a bit hard on myself, and probably don’t give myself as much credit as I should.

I think everyday you are learning something, take what you know and adapt to your business. So for me, it is not always the big thing like a big contract, or a big client or the big money but it’s about trying to appreciate the small things. Such as trying to decide at what hour you want to wake up the next day and avoiding a lot of the non-sense you get at a 9 to 5 job. So that the stuff that really makes me happy.

I’m just happy to be happy. Which is rather appropriate considering that in Japanese, Sachi means “happiness”.

Cristian: Most of the wanna be entrepreneur are waiting for an unique idea and moment to start a business. Is that really necessary?

Dean: Sometimes you just need to make a decision and to see which way you want to go and just do it. It’s just like when I was flying out of the plane yesterday while skydiving. As I fell out of the plane, I was stuck in the air for about 3 minutes. I realized that I can’t go back to the comforts of my airplane. It’s at that point that I realize that I have to appreciate the situation I am currently in and appreciate the beauty that was below me.

I think this is something successful entrepreneurs are good at- they understand change and just learn to adapt.

Life is never perfect and there is never an ideal moment to start a business. Shit happens all the time and you just learn to deal.

Cristian: By the way, how did you end up being an entrepreneur/starting a business?

Dean: I had a job and I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was approaching my late 20s and I realized it was now or never to strike out on my own.

I had friends who were running a business so I figured they could do it, then I can do it as well. It’s partly about one’s own ego- you want to know if you really have what it takes to succeed on your own terms.

My family is quite entrepreneurial; they sacrificed a lot by coming to America and in search of the American dream. They worked so hard to provide for me and my siblings.

You only live once so may as well make the most of it.