Andrew Balerdi describes how, after being made redundant in 2017, he decided to set up his own agency. Although, it was a bumpier ride than he had expected. In this webinar, Andrew talks openly about the personal and financial experiences of his journey.
2017 was an eventful year for Andrew:
- The company he had worked with for some years cut their workforce down from 18 to 3.
- Eventually, they also made him redundant.
- Having previous experience of freelance work, Andrew applied for over 180 jobs but was not successful in finding a new job.
Having set up his own agency in the May of 2017, by the end of the first month Andrew described how ‘he had acquired a contract for £70,000 with a client he had prior experience with’. The working started as entirely remote, the team had no office.
Andrew noted that at the end of 2017 and toward the end of the first project, I had a meeting with a mentor who asked, ‘Where is your business plan?’, to which I asked, ‘What is that?’
But after a great start, Andrew began to realise things may not be so easy. ‘I had just assumed the next client would also come to us in the same way as the first, through someone that I knew, I didn’t consider it a challenge. But, the phone just stopped ringing, no new clients, no pipeline and no online mechanism to deliver new leads.’
‘I started to send out emails to prospective clients and also began cold calling. I engaged with a consultant, as well as a lead generation company. By that time, I had niched down for health and wellness companies and an idea of where I wanted to take the company.’
Andrew goes on to explain that ‘I learned quite quickly that companies and clients don’t care about your CV, there care about what results you have got for others and why they should hire you. One previous client wasn’t enough.’
‘The Lead Generation agency did an automated email outreach that detailed the ways we could help. But I had spent thousands on this agency and on the tools to use to market us, but it wasn’t providing us with any leads.’
Andrew discussed how he was finding himself depressed and in debt. ‘Getting up in the morning was becoming a real challenge. I thought at that point that the lack of leads was a direct reflection on me. I had the choice of going to a meeting, and paying the tube fare or had to buy dinner for the kids.’
Having been through the worst, Andrew describes that he realised ‘its untrue that you have to fix everything by yourself. I sent an email to all of my family, explaining the situation and they were extremely supportive financially and emotionally.’
Moving forward, Andrew explained that he ‘stripped back on the Lead Gen agency and on the consultant. I moved to only focussing on getting new work, I didn’t work on any projects. I also picked up as much as I could on Sales through free online courses.’
‘It took me a long time that a lot of clients just want to know that if they pay X, they will get Y in return’. In 2019, little by little we started getting responses to pitches. I made a template for these responses too.’
‘I started to do those things I should have done in 2017, and we got back up to 7 clients. On each project I had at least a designer, developer and marketer. We won a few nice projects and felt we had turned a corner and my mindset changed.’
As lockdown hit, ‘6 of those 7 clients decided to pause or cancel their contracts with us, and so we were back down to one. I hoped that the provisions and tools I had created during the first dip in clients, that I could weather this storm a little more easily.’
Andrew finally noted that having been much more prepared for this downturn, he had ‘created a bunch of free webinars, created a content matrix; a way that companies could attach their brand to their content and set that up as a product in itself.’ As a result, his agency is continuing to succeed, despite the barriers.