Ryan Evans is a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, public speaker, and family man. In the early 2010s, as his first entrepreneurial venture, Ryan founded a technology company that he grew to multiple locations, employing dozens of people. After a successful executive transition there, he was appointed as the Global Operations Director for a billion-dollar multinational corporation where his focus and passion were on strategic planning, global growth, and training. He was successful in growing that business to more than three million global affiliates before leaving to start his next venture.
In 2017, Ryan founded Elamant International and successfully launched the company in more than two dozen countries, spanning five continents, including massive action throughout Africa and Asia. Today, Elamant is stronger than ever with revenues of more than $200 million and growing.
Ryan has been featured in multiple publications as well as online resources, video channels, blogs, and forums. He has spoken in person and virtually to millions of people around the world. Ryan has been married for 17 years and is a devoted father to four amazing kids.
Global Millionaire magazine recently caught up with Ryan and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Focusing on customer service, customer satisfaction, and customer retention. I listen very intently to what customers want and do not want and focus on continual improvement. If I don’t have customers, I don’t have a business.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Facebook has the largest reach with over 600,000 followers. Instagram and Twitter platforms have just recently been introduced. I believe in the power of word-of-mouth advertising. With Facebook, I keep my core members in a group called Elamant connect. This allows me to communicate with my company leaders, translating the given information to their teams.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I feel this works for some companies, but this isn’t our goal. We are by invitation only, so my goal isn’t to mass recruit. We want people to see value in our company, so the PPC doesn’t fit our business model.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
We create an icon with our elephant. Elamant is a combination word from the word’s elephant and element. Element means parts or pieces of something, while the elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. The idea is that all these elements will come together to make the elephant, which when positioned as a herd creates an unstoppable force. Having this icon or mascot rallies everyone behind our journey and creates forward momentum. There are a lot of good qualities of the elephant, such as having thick skin or not eating other people or animals. Like our business, we are not looking to devour other companies or compete with them, rather pioneer our path to success. When faced with a herd of elephants you have one of two choices: get out of the way or join them because there is no stopping them – getting people to get behind and become a part of our mission. From the element side, a piece of coal has little value, but it can be turned into a diamond with the right amount of pressure. So, an elephant with the right amount of pressure can create a diamond.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Branding has been very important to us. What value is marketing without a good brand?
When you look at Elamant you see black and gold. You see the logo, you know it’s Elamant. You see the mascot, you know it’s Elamant. If you have a good brand you become memorable, and when you become memorable you become sellable.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Letting people go who aren’t part of the same vision and journey. There are times when you have to be a friend and other times when you have to be a CEO. The CEO is like a shepherd; he looks after the sheep or the company and makes the best decisions on behalf of the customers, merchants, and future customers. If some pruning needs to be done for the plant to produce more fruit, you have to cut. It is difficult, but necessary.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Don’t get sold too quickly on what everyone can do for you. I remember starting Modern Technology and I had many different people and vendors saying if you spend money, we can market you here and save your business. Vendors wanting to sell me cheaper screens, but they ended up breaking easier, which created more work and more money spent. Looking at this company, I have already trusted so many different people that I have paid to do a specific job but failed to deliver. You must qualify, validate, and verify every decision you make.
What new business would you love to start?
As an entrepreneur, you are continually looking for opportunities. One of the things I like to do is find talent in unusual places. I don’t like hiring someone who is merely polished on paper and a great interviewer, instead I hire for mindset and the ability to be cultivated. Looking at the array of opportunities, I’d like to stay in the tech space, such as OCR development and big data, which is what we are currently in. With my current business, I am looking to create other companies and plug them all into the foundation business.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would give myself more credit and cultivate confidence instead of always asking for help in the belief that others had more wisdom and experience. Having the self-confidence to do whatever I want to do.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Eat all you can but chew carefully. There are times where you need to watch what you put in your mouth. You assume it’s going to be right for you based on the advertising, but foodborne illness is a real phenomenon, and food poisoning is even more real. Some have changed their entire diet based on a bad food experience. You need to put a guard in place to protect yourself from danger and filter out some negative contaminants. When starting a new venture, let everything that comes to you run through a filter. If you’re allergic to shellfish, it doesn’t matter how good it is or how good they market it, you still shouldn’t put it in your mouth. Even if it passes through all the filters, validate it by chewing on it. While chewing, if you decide you don’t like it, don’t swallow it, spit it out! Eating something terrible doesn’t mean you stop eating; instead, be more careful about what you choose to put in your mouth. If you have been burned by love it doesn’t mean you stop loving; you just become more guarded and choose carefully who you let into your space. The same goes for trusting others, BE CAREFUL!
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Be introspective. Do some self-reflection and find out your motivators. How bad do you want this? No matter what business you choose, it will be hard work! Success is simple, but the road to get there is far from easy. If I say quit smoking or quit drinking, it may sound easy, but achieving it is difficult. Success is simple: work hard, learn from your mistakes, stay the course, and never give up. You’re going to spend money, hire the wrong people, experience things never even thought about. Some things are going to hurt, but you’ll figure out how bad you want it. If you want it more than your next breath, then you’re on the right track. Every successful person I have talked to has told me the journey is tough, but if you want it bad enough, you’ll make it.