What a year it has been here at Nufás. I mean really, I’m talking to all you small business owners out there. What has your year been like? I think I can guess, but I want to take you through the roller coaster mine has been.
As I’m writing this, it is about a month and a half after the two-year anniversary of Sean and I launching Nufás Media, and introducing the world to the first digital media brokerage (as far as my research goes, anyways). Nufás started off like a lot of businesses do; a lofty, “we should totally do it!” moment among friends, and with more partners than there ended up being in the end. But what started as a pipe dream, quickly turned into something very real. We started to get clients in early 2019 and the world was our oyster – “this is really working!” As we worked off of our living room couches and dining room tables in separate cities, we began to make traction. If you have followed the blog, or any of our social media, you’ve heard this story before, so I apologize.
But this isn’t that same old story. As some of you may know, the first few years of running any business, at any time, is trying to say the least. A year ago today, (March 12th) I was so confident in the growth of Nufás in its first year, I decided it was time to quit my other, more steady job that paid the rent and bought the groceries, so that I could double down on Nufás without working 14 hour days between two jobs. I felt I was giving a half effort to my steady job because I was trying to build my dream during the day, but what’s worse is I was constantly looking at the clock while building Nufás because I had to cut my time short to build someone else’s dream at night. Eventually, I started to resent my steady job, which I used to absolutely adore and look forward to – something rare that not many can say. I didn’t want my resentment to build, so I made the decision to quit, and keep my relationship strong with the space itself, and the people I cared for there. Little did I know, only two days later, the world as we knew it would change. On the 12th of March, my steady job threw me a going away party, little did I know, it was the last care-free party I would attend in a very long time.
So here I was, one year into a brand new business, with arguably some of the stiffest competition of any industry, and now the social and professional climate throughout the entire world has been upended. Talk about feeling a little hopeless. At this time, Sean and I were off the living room couches, now in the same city, as him and his girlfriend moved to Peterborough. We were both pretty actively fashioning our lives around the presumed success of this business. To be fair, we had every right to, (up until March) we had clients coming in, some big clients, and our team was growing. We secured an office space in the basement of a café on Hunter St. with beautiful 7ft ceilings in August 2019. We then spent 3 months and thousands of our own hard earned dollars to demo, then reno the place. But frankly, it was fun and we looked at it as an investment (I can still taste the Jameson we drank out of the bottle while sitting on that mouldy carpet the first day we got the key). We redesigned this space to make it what we needed at the time and it was exactly that. Still to this day, one of the most exciting purchases we made was the conference table – I love that thing but it is heavy as hell.
But now, what started as a pipe dream and hours working off the couch, has turned into a seven person operation, not including the dozens of freelancers we regularly work with to help our clients bring their creative visions to life. We have since moved from the basement office to a beautiful space on the second floor of a historic building on George St. right in the centre of the action. There are windows here too, so we are really moving up in the world (although lugging that conference table up here was a feat).
Of course, this year hasn’t been all ups. Like any rollercoaster ride, there are bound to be downs. Navigating the bleak mid-winter in a lockdown, it was difficult to stay positive through new mental health issues lurking just beneath the surface and clients who drop off or just simply go out of business, all while trying to manage the struggles of our personal lives. Sometimes it’s hard to be the fearless leader, but you have to put on that brave face for your team so they can build you up too. I often tell myself “this is the life you chose” which forces me to own it and – I’m always happy I did.
However, despite the downs in the past year, through the heat of a global pandemic and in one of the most competitive industries, Nufás was able to grow exponentially. In fact, we have more than doubled in size each year and are on track to do it again this year. If your business is looking for that secret formula, you’re in luck. I have it.
It’s your staff.
Build your dream team – don’t be the smartest person in the room and surround yourself with those that can get behind your dream of building something that can make a difference to people. Give them a purpose, give them a goal and most importantly, give them a chance. Trying to do everything yourself and resisting the loosening of the reins will only lead to burnout, low profits and ultimately – disappointment in yourself.
I hope this lament of the past year has shown my pride in the business, in what it is and continues to be. It’s not meant to be braggy, because we still have our problems, we’ve let people down, and in no way are Sean and I making a million off of this (yet!) but to look back at your work, see a result, and have more than one of your staff tell you that ‘this is the best job they’ve ever had’ I mean come on… how can it get much better than that, pandemic or not.