January 15, 2020

My journey as an entrepreneur over the past couple of years

Simon Hakim

We entrepreneurs are a super optimistic bunch of people. It doesn’t matter what goes wrong, we always flip things around to a positive.

This can be both good and bad.

On the good, it means with little things (mostly known as major set backs), you’ll always find a work-around. If you can’t get over the mountain, you’ll look for ways to go around it. If you can’t go around it, then you’ll try and dig under it. If you can’t dig under it, then you’ll just smash right through it. Nothing’s a problem.

On the bad, it means you don’t want to accept the reality of what’s about to happen or what’s just happened. There’s a certain naivety that comes with being an entrepreneur.

It’s 2017 and work life is beautiful.

According to clutch.co an independent b2b ratings company, Hunter was (and still is) the number 1 branding agency in Australia. We have a 4.8 out of 5 average rating.

We have great clients, a talented team and we’re doing amazing work.

However, business rule no. 76 says never let any one client represent more than 25 percent of your business.

At the end of 2017, I was told by one of our clients that they would not be working with us moving forward. He was giving us 3 months notice. He explained, that they wanted to change direction and they needed to try a few different things. I was like that’s cool. We’ll finish everything up and do a proper hand over to the new company they were going to work with.

After that I found out the entire company was actually going through a major restructure, and change in direction was really another word for cost-cutting. So, people were being made redundant all over the place at absolute minimum notice.

As a result, we went from losing one client, to losing four clients within this company in one week. This was a huge loss for our business.

Instead, of having an ‘oh fuck’ moment I was like “don’t worry it will all work out.”

This is essentially the bad side of entrepreneurship. It’s putting your head in the sand hoping the problem will go away… and of course it never does.

Not addressing problems like this creates massive stress.

Stress turns into nightmares.

Nightmares turn into fear.

Fear turns into doubting your entire existence and knowledge about business.

You’re a fake. You’re a failure.

What am I going to say to my family? My friends? My colleagues?

I tell the truth. I talk about what happened. I say that things will be incredibly lean for the next year or so, until I work out what to do. I realise this was not just my nightmare. It was my family’s too.

Like the Greeks, I placed my family on an austerity package. We scaled back all spending and literally lived from one day to the next.

I started selling everything I had lying around the house on eBay. A palette of bricks left over from our new house build, roof bats, modems, computers, mobile phone accessories, furniture, clothes and even Coles Little Shop collectables (for those of you in Australia) that we seem to have bucket loads of. Anything to keep us surviving.

I also reached out to as many people in my network as possible. To learn, listen and try and find a solution. And during that process one guy in the U S, reaffirmed what I already knew. Entrepreneurs have this incredible resilience. He said you will find a way… and that’s what I did. Over 18 months… I transformed our business.

Working day and night I overhauled the business model.

We set up and implemented a new financial methodology called Profit First.

We set up new business procedures that utilised automation, A.I. and a desperately needed CRM.

We wrote our strategic story (ref. Andy Raskin) that took potential clients on a journey of what we do and the value we bring. But more importantly, we wrote it from their P.O.V. showing real empathy and understanding for their business challenges and the consumers they serve.

And for the first time ever, we clearly articulated the ‘how’ we do what we do (we already had our why? for all those Simon Sinek fans).

We developed The Hunter Planning process that showed how we took clients from a losing position to a winning position. It’s our unique process and it works.

Later in the year, we focused on our SEO and updated our website. We know it’s not perfect (and thank all of you who have provided me with your feedback and thoughts).

It’s now the start of a new year and I’m still here. I’m incredibly grateful for everything that’s happened in my life. And sometimes, those really bad events in both business and life is the universe giving you a wake up call. Not a horror story. You just need to be careful of the good and bad signals.

And whatever you do… never ever give up in believing yourself, your dreams and wanting to change the world.

Hello 2020.