When Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved launched The Creative Counsel in 2001, they did so from a 15m2 office, kitted with cheap garden furniture.
At the time they were reeling from an earlier business failure, a casualty in the dotcom bust. Their only source of leads was the yellow pages and persistence, and their entire focus was on cold calling, trying to drum up clients. It was touch and go.
Their expenses were R30 000 a month, and they had no money coming in. To keep the business operational, Oved went out to work as an IT consultant and handed his cheque over to the business each month, while Neu-Ner tried to get it to work.
From August to February they broke even but never made any money and couldn’t draw a salary. They went almost a year without being able to pay themselves, a situation that really knocks your confidence, especially when those around you are making money and carving out careers.
Fed up, Neu-Ner suggested they throw in the towel, but Oved suggested they give it one more month, during which time he gave up his consulting work and came over to give the business everything he had. In April, they landed an account for Danone. And the rest, as they say, is history.
- Always be indispensable to your client. We don’t have retainers. We believe they breed complacency. Our focus is to grow profits, and retainers set your revenue. How do you grow profits then?
- Only by reducing your cost base, which just entices you to hire cheaper resources and cut corners. That’s not our game. We grow revenue by adding value. We eat what we hunt.
- Never underestimate the power of networking. We believe that the first thing any entrepreneur should do, no matter their experience or the size of their company, is find a mentor. Then join an association or organisation.
Ran belongs to YPO and EO, Gil is an active member of YPO and is on the regional board. Each organisation operates differently, but at its core, you’re bouncing ideas and challenges off fellow business owners. It’s an invaluable well of advice. Yes, it takes time, but the dividends are exponential.
- Don’t limit yourself and what you can do. We didn’t define ourselves according to an industry and what it could do, or how large it was. That was such a defining characteristic of our growth.
There was nothing saying we couldn’t do something, or the market wasn’t big enough. We just filled a need, and didn’t care what line item it fit into. We didn’t create boxes for ourselves.