Jacob Nicotra, CEO of Jacob Nicotra Web Development

Jacob Nicotra
Photo credit: Jacob Nicotra

Jacob Nicotra is the founder and CEO of Jacob Nicotra Web Development, a premiere web development company specializing in custom web development, eCommerce solutions, and WordPress design and development. Jacob comes from a family of entrepreneurs and has always been interested in business and technology. With a strong background in STEM, biochemistry, and thousands of clinical hours, Jacob Nicotra decided to redirect his career in 2021 to pursue a path in the tech industry as a software engineer.

After evaluating market trends and employment opportunities, Jacob underwent a 6-month software engineering course. To date, Nicotra has developed 4 full-stack web applications, as well as launched an online web development business, focused on building websites for small businesses.

He is currently developing an estimation tool for a painting and construction company that will support a streamlined estimate process and help generate new business and increased revenue.

What is Jacob Nicotra Web Development all about?

Jacob Nicotra Web Development is a web development service that works with small businesses to provide customized and modern websites and applications. I pride myself on working closely with clients to deliver a product that is tailored to fit all of their needs, rather than a cookie-cutter result.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?

I started Jacob Nicotra Web Development because I saw a need for a personalized web development service, which my skill set was able to address. I am someone who is passionate about delivering immersive user experiences and want to use this passion to help small businesses grow and retain their customer base by modernizing their websites.

What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?

  • The ability to learn from your failures. This is because there will be many more failures in the beginning than successes. It is vital to learn from these failures to prevent them in the future and improve your overall business strategy.
  • Be personable. When working directly with clients, it is key to be genuine, upfront, and make a connection with people. Customers want to know they trust a service before committing their time and resources to it. As the face of my company, I do my best to assure my clients that can trust me and my company to dedicate 100% to their project until we reach a result that they are satisfied with.
  • Perseverance. Building a business is not easy, and there will be many roadblocks and challenges which must be overcome. It is essential to maintain focus on the goal and continue working hard even when progress seems slow.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you plan to grow this company?

My plan to grow Jacob Nicotra Web Development is to continue to deliver exemplary work to clients with an emphasis on quality over quantity. With an increasing base of satisfied clients, my next step would be to expand my team in order to take on more projects at once, while maintaining the same level of focus and polish that sets my company apart.

How have the pandemic and Lockdown affected you or your new business?

My company was started in the midst of the pandemic, so no real adaptation was needed. I started remote and remain remote, with no plans in the near future to acquire a physical office space. For newer companies like mine, this has been a benefit. It allows me to operate with a very low overhead cost while competing with well-established web development services. 

How do you separate yourself from your competitors?

What sets my company apart is that I create something unique and tailored to the client’s needs and do not rely on cookie-cutter frameworks. This way, every small business that I work with can rest assured that they are receiving a product that is truly original. There are too many IT businesses that take their clients for granted, assuming that they know better than their clients what type of software would suit them best, or what type of website they need. I truly listen to my client’s wants and needs and go from there.

What were the top three mistakes you made starting your business, and what did you learn from them?

  • I over-extended myself. At one point, I agreed to take on too many projects at once, merely because I was thrilled by the influx of work. I quickly realized that it’s far better to focus on delivering quality over quantity. This is what I have focused on since then.
  • Under-charge. In the past, I would compare my rates with market averages or quotes from my competitors. While it is important to offer competitive rates, I started to understand that what I offer is of a higher caliber and quality than many others on the market. Therefore, charging more than average allows me to deliver this quality work by focusing all my energy and resources on a single project at a time.
  • Under-utilizing referrals. References of past work are still a very viable and vital form of marketing, even in the era of digital ads. Word-of-mouth has can have much more sway over people’s decisions than a mere Facebook ad, especially to many small business owners. I didn’t realize this early on, so I neglected this important marketing strategy. Now, I communicate the importance of referrals and testimonials to my clients. Those that are willing to participate, play an important role in my marketing strategy.

Tell us a little bit about your marketing process, what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?

As mentioned previously, I now rely heavily on referrals. With my clientele, there is nothing more powerful than personal references and word-of-mouth. I also utilize Google reviews and Google Ads.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

One big challenge of mine has been obtaining my first couple of customers. To overcome this, I started small. I approached a business owner who I personally knew, and offered my services at extremely discounted rates. This way I was able to build a portfolio, while also making these businesses happy by delivering high-quality work at a cheap price.

What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?

My first business idea was to design a platform for my very first client but to do so without relying on commonly-used templates. I wanted to deliver something that was truly original, by using the client’s creativity. The end result was something that was distinct from anything else on the market.

What are you learning now? Why is that important?

Right now, I am learning new ways to deliver modern looks to the front end of websites and applications. Web development technologies are constantly changing, so it’s my job to remain up to date with the latest trends and updates. This way, I can offer my customers the advantage of using the newest features of these web technologies.

If you started your business again, what things would you do differently?

There is one big thing that I would change, and that is to start focusing on a niche market from the beginning. When I started my business, I was trying to be everything to everyone. That quickly became overwhelming, and I wasn’t able to focus on any single group of people. Once I started narrowing my focus to a specific type of clientele, my business really took off.

What’s a productivity tip you swear by?

One productivity tip that I swear by is working in a clean and organized space. It may sound far too simple to actually matter, but merely decluttering your work environment can remove distractions and have a huge impact on your focus. It has even been scientifically proven that clutter can have a negative impact on mental health. Before I sit down for a working session, I always take 5-10 minutes to declutter and organize everything around me. This way I am able to maintain 100% focus on the task at hand and feel comfortable while doing so.

If you only had $1000 dollars to start a new business, knowing everything you know now, how would you spend it?

If I only had $1000 to start a new business, I would spend it on marketing and advertising. I would create a professional website and make sure that my SEO was on point. Then, I would use Google Ads to drive traffic to my site.

Finally, I would utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to get the word out about my business. By investing in these areas, I would be able to reach a large audience and generate leads for my new business.

What helps you stay driven and motivated to keep going in your business?

Witnessing the end result of my hard work manifest in the satisfaction of my clients is what keeps me motivated.

What is your favorite quote?

“All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”

― Nikola Tesla

What valuable advice would you give new entrepreneurs starting out?

If you are passionate about a thing, skilled at delivering or creating it, and the market needs it, then act on this intuition. If you don’t, someone else will always come along to fill that niche. 

What is your definition of success?

To turn your idea into something that takes on a life of its own and makes a positive impact on the world.

How do you personally overcome fear?

I overcome fear by acknowledging that each failure will only bring me closer to success.

How can readers get in touch with you?

Readers can get in touch by visiting my website, which contains all my contact information jacobnicotra.com.

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Opinions expressed by interviewee participants are their own. 

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