West Palm Beach entrepreneur runs fast-growing marketing company

As a high school student in Michigan, Shay Berman showed a knack for building a business. His landscaping company was so successful that it employed 20 full-time employees.

Berman proved that company’s success was no fluke. His latest venture, marketing firm Digital Resource, was ranked by Inc. magazine as one of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.

The company ranked 262nd on the most recent Inc. 500 list. Revenue was $2 million in 2017, a jump of 1,855 percent from 2014, the year Berman launched his marketing agency.

Age: 27

Hometown and where you live now: I grew up in Novi, Mich., not too far outside of Detroit, and moved to South Florida in 2013. I live in West Palm Beach

About your company: Digital Resource is a full-service internet marketing agency located in downtown West Palm Beach. We assist businesses of all industries and sizes with establishing credible online presences that generate high-quality leads via search engine optimization, web development and social media marketing. I started Digital Resource in 2014 after moving to South Florida. I was just months post-graduation and took a less-than-enjoyable sales position. Cold calling and going door to door wasn’t for me, but it motivated me to take control of my career. I’d always had a passion for digital marketing. It’s what I studied in college and what drove a lot of the success for my first company, Landscape Solutions. So, I was 22, with an apartment for an office, just myself working on a few clients I had obtained in college. I took a risk and quit my sales job and took on Digital Resource.

Now, we’re the 262nd fastest-growing private company in America, as ranked by Inc. magazine. We’ve experienced an approximately 1,800 percent three-year growth rate. We’ve recently moved into our third office, a 9,000-square-foot downtown space that accommodates our 43 employees who assist nearly 300 clients. In the next three to five years, we’ll create 100 new jobs in West Palm Beach.

First company: My first real company was called Landscape Solutions. It was a landscape construction company based out of Walled Lake, Mich. It all started by doing yard work for my mother. Slowly, neighbors started to take notice of my work ethic and would pay me hourly to work on their yards. After a couple of years, I was able to learn all the tricks of the trade and was able to start selling my services with the landscaping knowledge under my belt. I first started offering my services throughout the community at an hourly rate. I quickly realized that I could charge a flat fee for the work and make even more money, eventually recruiting my friends and classmates onto the job sites to make the work more efficient and to take on bigger jobs. Eventually, over the course of six years, the company grew to about 20 full-time employees. We completed 123 jobs in our final season of business that consisted of 135 days.

Biggest challenge: How to improve our leadership team and empower them to lead their teammates in the best ways possible. We are a young company full of people with first-time jobs, but that is what makes us unique and exciting. Everything is new and we get to chart through our own territory.

Best business advice you’ve ever received: I’ve received a lot of amazing business advice over the years from many people that I trust, but one that sticks out to me the most is “communication is key.” No matter what business you are in, you’re going to have to communicate, and knowing how people like to be communicated with, when they like to communicate and what they want to communicate about is essential to success.

Biggest mistake you’ve made in business: Being too trusting. I’ve overlooked some red flags in the past, hoping that what I was seeing wasn’t true, and those red flags, if not addressed immediately, can be extremely costly.

Business philosophy: The biggest mistake small businesses make is picking up the pennies off the floor while the dollars fly out the window. Business owners need to focus on bigger-picture items in their businesses or they risk focusing on things that are not best suited for their time. This misalignment of what is important and how time is allocated can cause businesses to lose market share, revenue and sustainability.

Most important trait you look for when hiring: The culture at Digital Resource is unlike any other company. That’s something I’m really proud of and work hard to uphold. So, when hiring, I’m looking for someone who is passionate, eager, a self-starter and also willing to learn. Our environment is very dynamic and each of our employees has something unique to offer. We all learn from one another.

Success strategy: I live by the motto, “There’s always a way.” I strive to think outside of the box and constantly innovate. In fact, I don’t even see the box anymore. We want to be the exception to the rule, so we don’t shy away from testing new things, moving fast and accepting failure from time to time. If one way doesn’t work, we learn, adjust and try a new path. This thought strategy allows us to stay ahead of the curve and has paid off so far.

What you see ahead for Palm Beach County: I think the coming years are going to be a renaissance of sorts for Palm Beach County, specifically West Palm Beach. The culture is shifting to accommodate younger generations and the luxurious “beach meets city” lifestyle is becoming more accessible. I see more businesses booming and an influx in innovation that’ll really define Palm Beach County as not just a “must-visit” but a “must-live” area.