Briefly introduce yourself, what is the nature of your business?
My name is Luke Anthony Seeber and my business is a digital marketing agency that specialises in custom web development, web design and digital media content creation.
What inspired the launch of your business?
I was working full time at an accounting firm when I started doing some web development on the side as a hobby and built a website for my mom’s business. The success of my mom’s site led me to receive work from three new clients who were willing to pay for my services, which I initially refused.
Eventually, I caved and started taking on more clients, partnering with my current business partner and friend, Stefano Montanari. I registered a business and decided to take the work seriously, doing research on starting and branding a company.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I knew there was a market once customers started calling me for work, having heard through word-of-mouth about my services and how happy my current clients were. Some of the clients’ friends and family happened to also be business owners who then reached out to us to see if our services could help their businesses grow.
How did you raise startup capital?
We bootlegged our way from the start: We managed to save money up and have a basic financial strategy. We have also borrowed from our families at times to grow the business and have been fortunate enough to be able to repay them fairly quickly. Business has treated us well but has also had its ups and downs. Luckily, we had some cash saved up in order to survive the tough months.
Describe your business model and how you make money?
We’re a service-based business that generates capital by charging fees for project-based work, hourly work and work based on different influences. We charge a fixed fee on projects with an allocated budget of hours.
Our employees are paid an hourly rate that has been generated based on industry standards as well on monthly averages of hours worked. We are constantly monitoring our fees and expenses to ensure our employees and contractors are compensated fairly.
What challenges has the business faced and how did it overcome them?
I think our largest challenge has been managing cash flow. What often happens with small businesses is that you do work for a client and once completed, you send an invoice – but the client then makes payments based on their cash flow movements.
Some clients pay you on time while others pay late. This often results in you needing to juggle your monthly expenses with sporadic income. This is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome as a business starting out.
Your best bet to overcome this is to set up a great relationship with a bank, and get either a basic credit card or an overdraft facility – however, this is not easy, especially in South Africa. Once you have access to capital from the bank, you need to make sure you do not let your expenses go above your income.
It seems like a basic economic equation but when it comes to large amounts of expenses and income being deducted from your account and received in your account, it can be difficult.
You also want to avoid paying large amounts of interest and getting into a negative cash flow cycle by constantly just paying off debt as income is received. You need to use the capital from the bank as a tool, especially when you want to grow and if you want to set up a payroll system for employees. Keep your credit score clean and healthy, and try to build up a rainy day fund for your business.
The next big struggle is maintaining your marketing presence while keeping busy. We initially struggled with ensuring we kept our marketing efforts going while taking on lots of work. You have to balance your work and your sales as you should maintain a consistent flow of work from month to month.
This is a real challenge and if you are not comfortable with marketing, I would recommend setting a budget and getting a business that specialises in marketing and PR to help you.
What was the business’s first big breakthrough?
I think one of our first big breakthroughs was signing three of our largest clients at the time in one month. With not a single bit of marketing – all just off word of mouth. That was a real turning point in our business career; we realised we had something of value to offer and that businesses were really finding value from our services.
What online tools/apps does your business use daily?
We are a software company and, as such, we use the software every single day. Some of the most integral include:
- Mac Mail (Email Client)
- Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge (Internet Browser)
- Visual Studio Code (Code Editor)
- Github.com (Version Control System)
- Jira (Project Management)
- Apple Calendar (Calendar)
- Toggl (Time tracking)
- Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, XD, Premiere Pro, Indesign (Graphics manipulation software)
- Itunes (Music)
- Sage One (Accounting Software)
- Slack (Communication)
What marketing strategy has proven profitable for your business?
I think our number one marketing strategy has actually been providing the best service we can at a great price. Going the extra mile and putting good work in has been the number one way for us to get work. The next thing I would recommend is networking and putting yourself and your business out there.
Marketing is all about exposing yourself to potential customers first and foremost. From there, you segment your customers and focus on who you can show the value in your services.
Get a website as it’s number one tool for potential customers to find out more about the business and testimonials. If you can afford to, get a PR agency for getting your business coverage in the media.
What remains a challenge for your business today?
Marketing is always a challenge, as you grow. Target market changes, you need to figure out what makes your business the right business for that customer’s needs.
Please share your business website and social media links…
- Website: Https://valkyriweb.com
- Instagram: Https://instagram.com/valkyriweb
- Facebook: Https://facebook.com/valkyriweb
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCujOrFO2w5p6cu-eul0OOaA
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org