Ben Bradshaw is the CEO of SponsoredLinX.
Delivering advanced digital marketing strategies for more than 3500 clients from their base in Fortitude Valley, the company has enjoyed more than a decade of sustained success since a struggling magician first turned to Google AdWords to boost his business.
“I was really struggling for bookings but that changed within the space of a week,” he remembers, reflecting on a rapid turnaround in fortunes which led him to try out some courses in online marketing.
“I ended up sharing what I’d learnt with friends and then thought I could make this go a bit further.
“My other half, Shannah, and I set the business up in 2006…we had about 20 clients and worked from home with the baby and the dog!”
Having moved their dining table into their first office in Annerley, the couple embarked on building what has since become a multi award-winning venture, boasting offices in five cities, 45 million generated leads and more than 1.1 billion Google Ad views in the past year.
So does the magician-turned-marketer attribute any of his success to skills honed in his previous profession?
“The public-speaking element and ability to engage people and think on your feet is definitely transferable,” he laughs.
“I still do a handful of magic gigs and my son is also really into magic, so it’s still in the family.”
Bradshaw Senior has certainly conjured up something special in his new line of business.
What is your greatest business learning?
Get the right people. It’s really hard to overstate how important this is. Your business is only as good as the people you have working in it.
What is your greatest business success?
We’re one of the biggest employers of digital marketers in Australia and I’m really proud of the fact that we employ 160 people in Brisbane and have such a diverse workforce.
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- Be passionate about what you’re doing.
- A business is essentially a profitable solution to a problem, so be clear in your mind what the problem is that you’re trying to solve.
- Avoid negative people and surround yourself with sources of good advice.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I guess we might have recognised how important the recruitment process is, in terms of getting the right people earlier on, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing! You will encounter problems but ultimately they become your lessons learnt.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Referrals and networking are effective but having a strong digital presence is essential. During and after the global financial crisis, there were businesses complaining that they were losing money but at the same time they hadn’t even made themselves findable on Google. You’ve got to fish where the fish are.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest business information?
Our industry changes so rapidly that we have a daily morning meeting to discuss what’s changed since the last one! I read a lot, especially anything that relates to artificial intelligence or any subject which affects us in some way. You’re only as good as the information you’re getting.
Where have you sought business advice?
Our CFO, Brett Hill, gives me great advice. His background is in chartered accountancy, commerce and law so he’s got great knowledge.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
If your business isn’t profitable then it’s just a hobby. It’s easier than ever these days to start a business but if you find you’re constantly having to put a lot of capital in then it’s probably the wrong business for you. You should be able to build your revenue from clients.
How do you manage risk?
We don’t want to be another Kodak or Blockbuster, so we do as much as we can to stay informed and have a good understanding of where our industry is heading.