Well, I don’t think when I started Attention Experts I would have seen it become like this.
It’s been two years since we began. For some it may not seem like long, for a lot of us at Attention Experts it seems like a lifetime. It all started with a need and want.
I was being approached by quite a number of businesses, after I had launched two ventures that went really well online. They were asking for help with their social media strategy and marketing, as they couldn’t quite get the results. Some of these prospects had been with other agencies in the past and weren’t getting the level of service, that they would expect.
I decided to bootstrap Attention Experts and if I were to ever build a successful business, I would only use the cashflow the business generated. Keeping it lean, but also performing well at a high standard. I believe lots of capital in a business at the start can make it lazy as an operation. I started it with $250, I asked a friend of mine (Lucious Capers – who is our Melbourne based Partnership Manager) to see if he can sell a service I had which is an pre-built software I developed with a friend to help build genuine and unique followers online. And away we went.
Never having agency experience before certainly made things a challenge at the start. Knowing backend processes, reporting requirements, retention rates. etc, took a bit of filtering. And creating content for me, is definately not my forte. But what I had was different to a lot of the other agencies out there. I had prior experience of making it in business, and because a majority of our clients were small to medium businesses, I was able to have a real connect from the beginning. I knew their trials and their successes – I knew what they were thinking when they would ask questions that were rhetorical.
Our first office was a free meeting room at Officeworks. I hired a guy off Gumtree to manage the barrage of accounts being obtained, and away we went. We sat in this Officeworks meeting room, which stunk of Mcdonalds from the employees of Officeworks who had just had lunch in there. I took one of the dodgy whiteboard markers from the holder, which barely worked, and started on the spot just creating things as I went. My new staff member had no idea I was basically doing it off the cuff, as he was full of energy and vigor. We worked our behinds off, while people peered through the window slit on the door of the meeting room inbetween their decision on price points of ball point pens.
From there we have built ourselves into a fully fledged office in St. Leonards. We have 8 staff (just hired a ninth). And we have helped around 300 businesses in the last two years through workshops and agency services. We received in the last 12 months more 5-star ratings on Facebook than any other social media agency in Australia.
We have never locked a client into a contract and we certainly never will. Our work is all done locally, but competing on price with some of the agencies that decide to get their work done overseas.
This whole business was started with $250. Not a cent more has been invested or borrowed. When I tell people this story, they’re genuinely amazed.
Lots of late nights and hard work. One time I was in our St. Leonards office till 4am one time, and then coming back into work at 8am. I did not finish that day till 2am, then repeating that for a full week with no later of an exit from the office than 2am.
We’ve had plenty of fun also. Our sales team went to the Australian Open this year. Our Attention Experts day (which falls on our August 11th birthday of the company), was lots of fun last year – and this year our culture committee which is a combination of staff, have organised a great event for our team to celebrate again. Christmas parties have progressively gotten better. And best of all the Attention Experts team is a hard working one.
I have a great team and all this would have not been possible without them. That sounds cliche, but it’s true. The commitment and going over and beyond without my asking is awesome. It’s quite rare, unique and I’m lucky to have them. There have been challenges that have been unique to Attention Experts in terms of culture, but through good feedback from the team, we’ve created a strong culture here. It’s nice when clients or guests visit our office and comment on the vibe of the office.
Our clients also have been amazing. We have some of the best clients you could ask for. We have had our challenges, but it is quite amazing how much a lot of them have stood by us. I was just speaking to one yesterday who has been with us for the full two years. We’ve become friends and it’s developed a relationship beyond Attention Experts now.
We’ve won awards and been commended officially. I won ‘Outstanding Young Entrepreneur’ at the NSW Business Chamber awards and Attention Experts were finalists in the ‘Startup Superstar’ award.
So from the above you can tell I’m proud as punch right? There’s no hiding it I really am. I’ve had success in business before with other companies. But I think because this is truly what I love doing (helping businesses and business owners) – it makes it a pure joy for me.
I look forward to doing our glowing three year update. Twelve months ago our company was completely different. In twelve months time it will be completely different again!