Brett Downes – CEO Interview

by | Oct 28, 2020

Brett Downes

Founder of HARO Helpers

When did you know you wanted to start your own company?

When I was doing white label work for an agency and I was of a handful of people in the World who could offer it as a service, and cut out the middleman.

What was your original idea for this company, and are you still doing that (or did you pivot, if so, what is the new focus and why)?

Original idea was to to pitch the journalists for the client, but now we are pivoting to offering a SaaS service for small companies who can’t afford the service, but can use our insights and data to pitch themselves.

How long did it take you to finally take the leap, and what was it that pushed you over the fence?

The company I was white-labeling for suddenly closing down. I had to act fast to secure my first clients as it was a week before Christmas.

Who inspired you to pursue your dream, and why do you think they believed in you?

My first clients were aware that it was me doing the specialist work for them anyway, so they knew having a direct line to me would speed up the process.

Who is your favorite mentor and why?

My dad without a shadow of a doubt. Academically, he isn’t gifted but he is super hardworking and his work with his hands is second to none.

What was the hardest thing about starting your company, and what did you do to make it through the first stage?

Sales really. I’ve always been the person to do the work, liaise with clients and plan can carry out my work. I’ve never liked sales, but realise it is a necessary email to keep a company working.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn?

Handing tasks over to my staff, as I am used to doing everything myself. Trying not to micromanage is a work in progress for me.

What has been the most amazing thing you have experience while running this company?

I’ve recruited some people I used to work with who have lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic. It feels good to have them working with me and also to offer them a lifeline in these difficult times.

What is the weirdest thing you have experienced while running this company, and how did you react to it?

Emails and phone calls from companies offering to provide a similar service for my company that I offer to others. It’s like calling a chef and offering to come around his house and cook him dinner for a price!

What is the best decision you’ve ever made while running this company?

Employing people I know and have worked with. They know how I work and know they would be great employees. Unlike with strangers, there is a lot less risk involved.

What is the biggest mistake you made while running this company, and why do you think it happened?

I’m still making it, as I am working in the company where I should be working on the company more and allowing my staff to do the business while I work on getting more business. I am doing less work each month in the company, slowly but surely working as a CEO rather than a busy bee. It’s because I like to be involved in things and I always saw CEO’s as work shy, which I now know isn’t the case, it’s more me trying to have to get over my preconceptions.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your company?

We had 2 travel clients pause activity with us, so that was a loss of revenue in the short term, one has now comeback. However, we managed to get new medical clients using the COVID exposure as a tool to bring them in. Fortunately, unlike most companies we have come out ahead due to Covid.

What keeps you passionate about your company?

There are still ideas and plans percolating that I want to implement this year and next and that keeps me driven and passionate about continuing the work. Also, there are some niches we don’t have clients in, so we will be looking to penetrate that market as I believe we can do good things for them.

What daily routine have you developed to help you take care of your mind, body, and soul?

I bought a treadmill. stair climber and weights for the house so I could fit in 60 mins of exercise a day. As cliche as it sounds, this releases endorphins and keeps my mind and body active for longer in the day and I tend to get more work done on a workout day.

What one thing would you like people to take away from this interview?

You don’t have to have all the answers or skills to run your own business. Some skills can’t be acquired until you actually do take the plunge.

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Sean Weisbrot

Sean Weisbrot

Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.