You know you’re talking to a special kind of person when he says losing his job was a positive event.
After Adrian Dayton graduated from Brigham Young University, his father, Dr. Merril Dayton, was recruited to be chief of surgery at Buffalo General Medical and Erie County Medical centers. Dayton visited the University at Buffalo Law School and fell in love. Scholarships sweetened the deal. Dayton planned to stay in the City of Good Neighbors for three years. During his tenure as a law student, he met his future wife, and they married before he graduated in 2008.
After graduation, Dayton took a position as a lawyer with a local corporate law firm. The future seemed laid out before him: While he and his wife carved out their lives together and raised the child they were expecting, he would pursue a career as a successful lawyer.
Unemployed and happy
Then reality slammed into them. In 2009, the economic downturn took Dayton with it. He found himself unemployed.
“I wasn’t happy as a lawyer,” Dayton said. “So I took a positive—this job layoff—and turned it into a positive.” He recalled that when he called his wife to tell her the news, at first she cried. “But she believed in me and supported me.” Dayton said he was always good at making money, and this time would be no different. He even turned down a job offer at another law firm because he knew there was something more he wanted to accomplish. He just wasn’t sure yet what it was.
When Dayton started law school, social media didn’t exist, he said, noting that he joined Facebook because he was running for class director. He admitted he didn’t know much about the platform, but understood he needed it to promote his candidacy.
In 2009, when he published his first book, “Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition,” he used Twitter to promote it. Three years later, he published his second book, “LinkedIn and Blogs for Lawyers: Building High Value Relationships in a Digital Age.” Between writing and traveling the country to speak to lawyers about using social media to promote the industry, an idea was taking shape in his mind. From his experience, he knew lawyers weren’t sharing their news through social media channels, which was a huge missed opportunity.
In 2014, the culmination of many things seemed to converge: the layoff, his positive attitude, and the burgeoning social media landscape. These paved the way for Dayton to create ClearView Social, a software company that offers a social marketing and sharing tool for lawyers, accountants, and many other clients in professional industries. Some 20,000 users and more than 130 firms all over the country, including Hogan Lovells, one of the largest firms in the country, are using this tool to market their information across several social media platforms—especially LinkedIn— with a click of a button instead of multiple tedious posts to each individual platform.
Despite the company’s success—more than $1.4 million in revenue annually—Dayton said it took time to become successful. “It took us a while to put together a plan for sales,” he said, noting that four of his 15 employees specialize in sales. He added that when they first got started, “we weren’t focused” on our niche. Eventually, they found their focus and wasted less money.
“Go all in”
Dayton said those who wish to become entrepreneurs should first discover what customers want. “Your first job in building a business is market validation,” he advised. “Once you do that, everything else will fall into place.” He recommended talking to potential customers as soon as you are able.
Dayton noted that it’s important to “keep building the business. If I won the lottery, I’d still be doing this. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve been lucky, too.”
He said his plan was always to start a business; his layoff catapulted that plan into action sooner than he might have wanted, but it has worked out. “I can never work for someone else again,” he said. “It’s not for everyone, but if it calls to you, you’ll find a way. Have the right mindset and go all in.”
Even while ClearView Social enjoys success, and the company is expanding into new markets, Dayton is not one to sit idle and soak it all in. In February, the company is poised to launch a new product—PostHaste—an online tool that allows clients to accelerate their blogging with a simple interface.
He explained that, for instance, most lawyers are too busy to write blogs. This tool allows them to bookmark a blog, add a paragraph or two, and post it to their page on LinkedIn and to other platforms. After all, Dayton said, lawyers, for example, are the best ones to write about their industry, but they are often too busy; this tool allows them to select text from a reliable source, upload it, add comments, and customize it to their own page.
Dayton is excited about rolling out the new tool and believes, like ClearView Social, it will enable industry professionals to use social media to advance their profession.