The Secret to Living the New American Dream
Philip F. Smith has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list four times—without a single full-time employee.
Philip F. Smith—a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Inc. 5000–ranking company PJP Marketing—isn’t one to talk about himself. At the Inc. 5000 gala in 2018, his wife took the lead on networking. When someone asked about his company, Smith would reply, “I am only a one-employee company.” But his response almost always led to follow-up questions. How had he managed to rank among the fastest-growing businesses in America as a solopreneur? Also, how did he place on the Inc. 5000 list four times? The answer comes down to two words: lead generation.
Smith started his first business when he was in his 20s. He has since sold four companies, founded others, and led large teams. In 2014 he mastered lead generation. That’s been his focus ever since. Three years later, he founded an e-learning business to teach businesses lead generation. To promote it, he partnered with Kevin Harrington, one of the original stars of ABC’s Shark Tank.
To maximize profitability, Smith monetizes every lead in multiple ways, for example, by selling customers additional services. Large corporations always talk about monetizing their data, but smaller companies don’t, Smith notes.
ALL ABOUT THAT “VACATION LIFESTYLE”
Smith sees entrepreneurship as a means to an end. “Everything’s about the ‘vacation lifestyle’—doing what you want, when you want.” For Smith, that means “working in his jams” or his favorite New York Yankees hoodie. That means having more time for his family because he is not bogged down managing employees. He also has the disposable income to invest in an exotic car or two. Smith calls the life he has realized “the new American dream”—the ability to build a business from home, by yourself.
Smith is as reluctant to talk about himself today as he was at the 2018 Inc. 5000 conference. But he realizes now that he has achieved something special. “It took me a long time to be confident in myself and my abilities,” he says. “Now, I won’t even touch a business unless I feel I can get it to 100 grand a month in three to six months.”
Moving forward, Smith will continue to create new revenue streams and build and scale businesses with the intent to sell. His newest company is a comprehensive software-as-a-service marketing platform. “Everything I do is scalable and automated. And it all drives around lead generation,” he says. “Once you learn how to buy media at the lowest cost possible, and you know how to monetize it, you can do anything.”