I am from a very humble working-class background living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland just be-side Belfast. I have that typical entrepreneur story. I was an appalling student and didn’t like to be told what to do. I excelled in the subjects I enjoyed and crashed in the ones I hated.

Entrepreneurism was always on the table for me; I wasn’t going to work for someone for the rest of my life. I always knew that.

When I started  Vindicta Digital, I originally grew the business utilising social media, my branding and Google.

I used free social media tools and Google to grow the company brand. I did not have any kind of investment or funding to get me off the ground, so it was literally just hours and hours of work to up and running.

At the beginning of the business, I had no choice but to devote 6am-11pm days until we had capital and could expand. I built our original website myself and began to market it. At this point, I also started hunting the market for the best designers, developers and SEO experts I could find.

All while doing business development with two of my team. Crazy times but completely worth it!

I think the concept of a 4 hour work week is complete bullshit! There are no results without hard work. Simple. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be working from a beach chair in the Bahamas, who knows!

We’ve grown from a few home-based and mainland UK clients to having different key loca-tions, Belfast, Leeds London and Dublin and developed a strong team along the way.

Now we can offer search/SEO, web design and social campaigns for companies globally, in – cluding clients in New York and UAE. We also have picked up a few celebrity clients along the way.

Voice and AI are an exciting prospect for the digital marketing world. I am very much hoping to position Vindicta as the agency at the forefront.

Thrive Global: What gives you energy?

James Blake: My energy comes from my love of what I do. Simply put there is nothing else I’d rather do. I love the entrepreneur lifestyle, the ups and downs that come with it. I love digital, the vast ever-changing industry and I love when we create beautiful websites/results for our clients through our SEO, social or other digital campaigns.

It naturally gets the energy flowing for me!

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

JB: A life hack? Hmm, I’m not entirely sure. If there’s one thing I have learnt in life, in general, it’s not to give up.

The only way to succeed in life is to be relentless with your work ethic and attitude. This year, five months ago, my father passed away suddenly, and my brother has been seriously ill for the last year. It’s been a super difficult year, and at times I’ve wanted to forget about the business and retreat into myself. I haven’t however.

I’ve applied myself and actually done the best period of business ever. I feel that the best ad-vice I could give to anyone is that it’s not what happens to you but how you react to it and move forward.

This is, in my opinion, is ultimately the measure of whether a person is capable of great success or not.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.

JB: Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestly. The bit that stood out for me the most in this book is the topic of a GSB. A global small business.

The theory of a GSB is that a small business, utilising the power of digital can now compete and win business on a global level, competing with the big multi-billion pound companies.

Small companies tend to have fewer overheads and are typically more customer focused. In this day and age, a company no longer needs to operate a factory mindset.

Staff no longer need to live in the office nor do they even need to be employed by a business. They can be contracted and should they decide to contract their services to a company they can.

I believe this is the future of business, yes it has teething issues, but once in place, it’s an ex-tremely scalable model. This is all explained in the book.

It fascinates me, excites me and fuels my passion for business growth and digital influence!

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

JB: My phone is never away from me. However in recent months during a working day, I have be-gun only taking calls at certain times of the day unless urgent. I have set times to do calls, as to fit in with my busy diary and I have also restricted my social media and email usage. I also reply to emails at set times, mostly.

I’m trying to come up my own personal productivity hack!

TG: How do you deal with email?

JB: I guess I addressed this above!

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

JB: This rarely happens! However, if I do, I will use that 15 minutes to catch up on menial tasks or to simply take a breather.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

JB: I feel like I have been burnt out a few times within my entrepreneurial journey. I think the most difficult was with the passing of my father. For obvious reasons, I did not have my usual flair or energy to attend meetings, presentations, etc.

However, I’ve since got passed that burnt out feeling have learnt how to manage this well.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

JB: I hate to lose. However, I’d be lying if I said I have never failed. I fail on a regular basis. Every entrepreneur does, this is how you develop as a business person and as a human in general.

Overcoming failure is easy, you simply remove failure from your vocabulary. It becomes a lesson, this way you can only ever improve yourself.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

JB: One of my favourite quotes is by Henry Ford. It’s a constant reminder of how important your mindset is when it comes to anything in life.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.