Richard and Kerry Flanagan, entrepreneurs from the UK, had been running 8Ball, an e-commerce T-shirt business, for a number of years when Google and Facebook changed their search results algorithms. In turn, Richard and Kerry saw their business decline but decided to use this setback to start a more impact-focused and lifestyle supportive business - T-Shirtify. It offers companies personalised merchandise as well as full e-commerce services. A year later, the couple finds themselves running two successful businesses, hitting record sales, and having the most free time they’ve had in years. This is how they did it.
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DISCOVERING THE ‘BIG WHY’ IN BALI
Richard and Kerry had already been to Fast Forward Summit, one of the world’s most popular entrepreneur events, and saw the impact that mentoring from Roger Hamilton, a social entrepreneur and futurist, could have on their enterprise. So, it was only natural that when they needed guidance, they turned to Roger and iLab, a two-week business accelerator programme Roger founded in Bali.
“When we came to iLab, we already had a couple of clients with T-Shirtify, but we needed to know how to build the business differently from the ground up.”
Through the programme, Richard and Kerry created a promotion plan for their new enterprise which detailed their key financial and developmental objectives as well as milestones. Additionally, the plan developed an awareness of what really differentiated them as a business.
“Before we just saw ourselves as T-shirt printers,” Kerry explained. “However, iLab made us realise our real value; it’s not just the product or service that’s valuable, it’s our knowledge.”
Richard and Kerry’s lightbulb moment during their time in Bali was realising the importance of having a greater sense of purpose.
‘We didn’t have a ‘why’ before. We were just doing business,” said Kerry.
Richard agreed. “What we do now is help people get into a flow by asking them what they really need and adding something extra to help them achieve it. For instance, we started running Facebook marketing tests for clients for free, and we proved that we could add 20% to their business turnover. As a result, we integrated that into our business. That’s the real reason we stand out from our competitors.”
“Clients will approach you thinking it’s all about how much money they can make,” Kerry continued. “But when you take the time to fully understand their requirements and pain points, you can offer them so much more. That’s what really satisfies us.”
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NURTURING THAT ONE CLIENT
After iLab, Kerry and Richard also joined Roger’s Crystal Circle, a high-level mentoring programme for entrepreneurs. At the outset of the business, they found it to be challenging.
“We were connecting with people frequently, but we struggled to get them across the line. Roger advised us to just nurture the clients we did have and to keep adding value to them. That was a lot easier to do!”
During a mentoring session, they defined that they needed five clients to bring in £30,000 per month.
“We had this top-line turnover figure that was a priority in our minds because it seemed easier to acquire five smaller clients than a couple big ones. What we hadn’t realised is that five clients meant five times the work! When we connected with a new potential client and started the conversation, I looked at the size of his business and realised if I focused my energy on him, it would fulfill our turnover figure.”
In turn, Kerry and Richard decided to focus on nurturing that one client and provide him with as much value as possible for free.
“With Roger’s help, we curbed all our tendencies to get distracted and focused on the strategy,” said Richard. “We looked at what the client needed and what we could give him for free such as analysing traffic on his website, ensuring quality of prints, and looking at his Facebook strategy. We realised he was wasting tons of money, so we showed him how he could have the same amount of revenue but save £60,000 a year on his budget. That’s how we developed trust, and from there, we started talking more about production.”
Kerry agreed. “When you have those conversations and add the value in the back end as well, you don’t have to try to convert the customer; it just happens. Building trust early is an easier way to bring that customer home, and it is much easier than spending money on marketing.”
By building trust and offering value, Richard and Kerry secured the big contract, bringing in the revenue of five smaller clients with just one.
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RHYTHM AND PROFILING EQUAL SUCCESS
Richard and Kerry built T-Shirtify systematically and with a greater sense of clarity using the Wealth Dynamics Profiling system, which helps entrepreneurs discover their personal path to wealth creation. The couple used the WD test to determine their team members’ personality types.
“By knowing our individual profiles, we established a really efficient team,” said Kerry. “Specifically, we integrated the Wealth Dynamics language into our team meetings, and everyone understood their roles. It made our communications really smooth. We continually asked Roger how to keep people happy and aligned, and we learned that when you recruit new people, you’re not recruiting for a job title but a profile. This approach is quite strange at first but definitely more effective.”
Empowering the team has also been the couple’s priority.
“With Roger’s support, we’re helping our team to become leaders and move up the spectrum; in turn, we can too. We’re operationally excellent, so nothing is falling through the cracks. New customers are important, but we’ve got to nurture the team. There’s multiple things occurring at the same time, but it feels right.”
Richard and Kerry also sought to find their own rhythm as a couple, a young family, and co-workers as they knew this rhythm was going to be a major contributor to their success.
“We follow Roger’s system and always stick to our weekly rhythms. Every day has a different focus and energy; sometimes, it gets interrupted, but we try to stick to it, and it really works for us. To stay aligned as a couple, we work on the same days, and now, we can work from home. We’ve recently taken time off, and it feels good knowing the business is running smoothly without us present. We’ve been able to spend more time working on our health and exercising. That’s been key - a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind.”
With a perfectly functioning team, Richard and Kerry took a longer holiday in Italy in July and saw their businesses hit record revenue without their active involvement.
Kerry concludes, “Since February, we’ve grown 12 times the size in under six months, and we’re projecting it’ll double again before the end of the year, which is impressive for something that was in a testing stage at iLab. The key thing for me is recognising that you don’t need to keep putting the foot on the gas all the time.”
In terms of revenue, T-Shirtify was sitting at about £60K annually, and by the end of the year, it’ll be at about a million.
What is your bigger ‘why?’ Who is your one customer for whom you can provide massive value? And what rhythms could you develop to set yourself and your team up for success?
“Luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.” -Oprah Winfrey
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