When Hustle Media launched in 2015 as a digital media agency, founder and CEO Cindy Laufs soon realised that things were not going to remain the same for very long. Business was good, clients were happy and were asking for more. Soon the fledgling agency had grown into a full boutique media agency offering a host of specialised services.
The growth continued over the years and then there was that blip in 2020. Hustle Media was one of the fortunate ones that came out of the pandemic intact albeit a little battle worn. Despite that, Laufs boldly set a revenue growth target of 20% for the past fiscal year, the first year post-pandemic that lives returned to some sense of normalcy.
“The target was considerable seeing that historically our revenue growth toggled around 10% year on year, so technically our goal was to double our target in very uncertain times,” says Laufs. “I remember informing my staff and thinking, ‘this is nuts!’ But we were desperate to forget the phrase ‘a new normal’ and just get back to normal.”
Laufs admits that like many others out there, they blindly stepped into 2022 without any idea of what it was going to look like. “We returned to our business at breakneck speed, driven by the need to erase the two years that almost wiped us out. A lot of us stepped into a manic role of overachieving because of a sense of survivor’s guilt that our business came through the other side standing.”
The result was two-fold: Hustle Media hit the revenue growth target of 20% for 2022 on its head, but on the downside, Laufs suffered burnout and had to step back from the company until she regained her health. In true Hustle Media fashion, the focus is on sharing the positive lessons learned with other business owners:
1) Run a lean business. Running a lean business and being agile ensures that you can ‘brace for impact’, whether it is a major global event or losing a client. “We evaluate our expenditure every three months and cut where we see fat or wastage,” says Laufs.
2) Have a solid routine and stick to it. “Having a routine gives you true north in a topsy-turvy world. I wake up at 4am every day to get a solid few hours of deep focus work in before the world wakes up. Admittedly, this is not for everyone, but it works for me, and I am confident that this has been a key component of Hustle Media achieving our goals.”
3) It’s okay to let a difficult client go. “If a client is taking a toll on your company resources, staff morale and your own mental health, it’s time to close the door and move on.”
4) Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins along the way. Sometimes just getting through the day or dealing with Susan not being able to unmute herself on the 100th Zoom call is a win.
5) It is possible to lead with compassion without losing your edge.
6) Show your appreciation and reward your staff regularly, even if it’s just a small token of appreciation. This goes a long way.
7) Don’t joke about being burnt out. It’s real. The fallout is tangible, severe and the recovery process long.
8) Interagency collaboration and strategic partnerships are the future. Collaboration is key to staying ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.
9) Employee mental health should be your top priority. Caring for your employees’ wellbeing is crucial for the success of your business.
10) If you don’t already have a dog, get a dog.
What is next for us?
I couldn't be more thrilled for what this year has in store for us. Our team is currently in the final stages of developing Breaking Ground Property Marketers, our new venture aimed at providing customised marketing solutions for developers. With our proven track record in this industry, we're excited to expand and take our success to new heights," says Laufs.