Case Study: Your inside guide to how we launched and built Delilah Creative from the ground up
Tips and tricks to help you grow your business
Curious about Delilah Creative’s origin story? Want some insight into how we built our business into one of Singapore’s most beloved creative agencies?
Today, we’re handing the blog over to our founder, Hester, so she can tell you the story of how she launched and built Delilah Creative from the ground up.
The launch of Delilah Creative
Hi, I’m Hester! If we haven’t met before, please allow me to introduce myself. I’m the very happy founder of Delilah Creative, a professional over-thinker and the mama to two kick-ass little girls.
As you know, there’s a lot that goes into building a business. Which is why I want to start my story with a disclaimer:
I’m not sure if a small business will ever be ‘done’.
There will always be something for us to work on and improve. And I have no doubt that as soon as we hit ‘publish’ on this article, there could be an edit or addition made.
We are, and always will be, a work in progress. And we may have seen many chapters in our business, but this is far from a neatly tied-up happy ever after.
It is my hope that by sharing some of what has taken us from where we were to where we are today, you can add a few new chapters to your business too.
So, let’s do this.
I launched Delilah Creative back in February 2016. Since then, we’ve gone from a solo operation with just me working in the business, to having four permanent staff members.
So how did we do it?
Delilah Creative was not my first business. After working for international branding agency, LPK, in Switzerland and Hong Kong (playing with brands such as Pampers, Olay and Pringles), I co-founded Sassy Media Group in 2009 in Hong Kong.
And while this foundation helped me build a brand I knew my audience would love, it has been harder this time around I didn’t have the business partners to bounce ideas off of like I did in Sassy Media Group. So part of building Delilah has been learning to listen to my own intuition, to trust my team and also rely on their expertise.
So with that in mind, here are some of the ways in which we have managed to grow and turn Delilah Creative into a successful and profitable creative agency.
How we grew Delilah Creative
1. We blended great value, brilliant service and awesome results for a reasonable price.
When we started out, we didn’t have the great portfolio of work that we do today. We started from a blank slate and we needed to find a way to consistently attract new clients. Which was why pricing our services to be competitive and affordable was so vital to our early success.
There’s a lot of business literature at the moment about knowing your worth and not pricing your service too cheaply in order to attract the right clients. But at the end of the day, in order to encourage clients to take a chance on an untested firm, you need to beat the competition on pricing.
Now that we have an amazing portfolio and have worked out the kinks in our process (we’re constantly changing and improving how we do things – this never stops!), we’re able to be a little bit more selective in our target market.
This means we can pick and choose the clients that we know we will be the best fit for. And raising our pricing to reflect the value we provide while still being (we believe!) a great deal, goes hand-in-hand with that.
2. I worked in my business.
If there’s a lot of buzz about knowing your worth, then there’s practically a roar about outsourcing elements of your business that aren’t within your area of expertise.
And while I fully support outsourcing, in the beginning the only way to fully understand your business is to work within it.
When I first started Delilah, I was doing nearly every piece of the process myself. And sure, it was time-consuming and overwhelming at first, but it now means that even if we have a problem or the team is busy, I can jump in at any point in the process to help out.
Never be in such a rush to outsource that you don’t learn the basics, because if you can’t handle tasks yourself, how can you understand whether the person you’re delegating them to is performing them correctly?
3. I kept my eye on the bottom line.
I tend to form personal relationships with my clients and I relate to them very strongly as fellow small business owners. So even though I want to give them the world, I’ve had to be extremely strict with myself about not offering discounts as I KNOW our services are priced correctly.
I’m also very careful to choose clients that believe in our value too. These days, if a client shows signs of being a consistent haggler, I will politely decline their project as we’re always too kind and end up doing work for free, which doesn’t help to pay the bills.
We have a strong sense of the profit margin that we need to generate and we use that to stay disciplined. Plus, Kate, our wonderful Project Manager, tells me off if I offer discounts now, which keeps me in line!
4. We kept our values front and centre.
It’s easy to lose track of your WHY when you’re running a small business that’s taking off, but I try to always come back to the purpose of why I started Delilah in the first place and what I want the company to BE.
For me, that is fundamentally a beautiful small business that attracts awesome people who want a flexible, fun and family-friendly work environment.
All of our staff (unintentionally!) are mums, and we work part-time, flexible hours, and often from home a couple of days a week.
Sometimes more corporate types can look askance at this, but this is who Delilah is as a company, and I don’t want to change that.
Whenever I feel the pressure to grow quickly or take on huge projects, I remind myself of our core values (yes I’ve written them down!) and make business decisions based on those.
5. We focused on relationships.
One of the main reasons Delilah has grown so quickly is due to the relationships I built over my years at Sassy. Those coffees and connections with other small business owners were the stepping-stones we used to build Delilah in the beginning.
We’ve also been lucky to have strong word-of-mouth marketing. Our happy clients are our best marketing machine and we go above and beyond to nurture our relationships with them. We love hearing their success stories and keep in touch long after projects are finished to check in on them.
Your checklist to help you build and grow your business:
- Price your offerings competitively.
- Work in your business across all roles and tasks before outsourcing.
- Keep an eye on your profit margin.
- Don’t discount your offerings.
- Cultivate and maintain your business values.
- Focus on the relationships you have with your customers.
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