11 September 2019

How to build a successful digital business and stay zen

Lara Grierson

Newcastle-based digital agency Zimple Digital has been with Dashworks since the beginning. Managing Director Blake Bennett founded Zimple alongside his brother in 2011, taking the leap after working in the digital space in Melbourne and Sydney for several years. While Blake’s first and foremost a digital enthusiast, he balances out his technology obsession with surfing, playing golf and skateboarding with his two kids!

This month we sat down to chat with Blake about business growth, work/life balance and his Dashworks experience so far.

Why did you decide to set up Zimple Digital?

At the start of the journey, we were hungry entrepreneurs with 0 business experience but a clear vision that the future in marketing was in digital, and that no business would be able to avoid at least having a website. The idea was to just get business online simply, hence the name Zimple (Simple was taken!). Our other business, SwimPro, was very successful in breaking into this emerging digital marketplace, so we started putting the feelers out to friends who had businesses to see if they would like help modernising in the digital sense.

What was your first year in business like? What were some of the challenges you faced?

The first year was insane. I was living in Sydney, still working in medical advertising but starting to produce websites for small business with my brother (who’s an engineer, not a programmer). He wrapped his head around Adobe Dreamweaver to produce the code, I was back and forth with designs, and we’d work on methods to collaborate effectively from remote locations. I would leave work Friday afternoons and drive straight to Newcastle, where we had an office in his lounge room. We’d work into the night and as much of the weekend as we could handle.

At some stage in that first year I threw in the towel at my Sydney job and committed to Zimple full-time. My wife supported us through her wage while I was hyper-focused on having a red-hot crack at this new venture.

Zimple digital at Dashworks
Blakes amazing wife Renae

You guys have been on a pretty steep growth curve. How have you achieved this?

We have, and it’s due to a number of factors, including good timing and extremely hard work. We basically ran on the philosophy that pressure creates diamonds and did whatever it took to organically grow the business. My parents both retired and were instrumental in helping out. They don’t have a “business background”, but they supported us, and still do, so we could pursue our dreams of owning and running successful businesses.

These days we have a more rational, steady way of dealing with business growth. Every decision is carefully considered through a board of directors with varying degrees of business knowledge and experience. We’ve drawn up a business constitution; we’ve got very experienced staff and a good network of businesspeople to lean on. With the right processes in place, it makes it very hard for the business to make a wrong decision.

What are the top three things you’ve learned so far?

I’ve learned so much, but if I was to have a top three, it would be the importance of:

Learning, understanding and embracing the value of my time and where it’s best spent.

Understanding what I want to get out of the business and what success looks like for me personally. So important!

Cashflow – it’s such a cliché, but it’s so important to small business.

We imagine you’re a busy guy – do you think work/life balance exists?

It’s very tricky, especially with a young family. But you need to understand your priorities, and as I mentioned above, what success looks like to you. For me it’s all about creating time. I’m a firm believer in the notion that there is unlimited money out there and everyone has the potential to earn, but as there are only 24 hours in a day, you cannot create more time. If I can balance work time with time to spend with my family and also provide for them, then I’m winning!

How did you get involved with Dashworks?

We were part of the initial Dantia plan as an example of a business that could be nurtured and grown through a coworking space. When the space was being conceived, we were working in the front office of our other business, which was less than ideal. We were the first tenants upstairs when the space was completed, and over the last couple of years we’ve grown into the downstairs space.

What have been the benefits of working in a coworking space?

To start with, the benefits were purely financial, and we were in a great-looking, professional office space. Obviously we had access to all the great infrastructure that’s in place, like high-speed WiFi and the shared boardrooms. Of course, as Dashworks has started to flourish, we’ve met lots of great new people, and it’s a very nurturing environment to talk about our businesses and challenges. We’ve also collaborated with quite a few of the other businesses, which is great!

Zimple digital at Dashworks

What’s next for you and for Zimple?

Next for me is to seek out new and exciting clients for Zimple. We’ve grown to a point where we can be a bit picky and choosey, where we only engage with businesses where we know we can win together. This creates a beautiful, harmonious relationship and allows our clients to grow digitally, and Zimple to grow as a business.

Zimple has a lot of cool projects coming up, including a Progressive Web App – a step away from traditional apps into a new, exciting Google-backed application format. We have a whole heap of development projects which we’re scrambling to schedule in for the rest of the year, and we’ve also had some massive digital marketing wins, including one larger client attributing us with helping them expand into QLD and VIC. It’s really exciting to be part of such an ever-changing landscape in digital, and as it evolves we’ll be making sure Zimple is always slightly ahead of the curve!

 

Zimple Digital is a full-service digital agency based in Newcastle. With a team of digital strategists, developers, designers and business directors, Zimple takes a holistic, collaborative approach to delivering digital strategy, assets and marketing for clients across a wide range of industries.

If you’re looking for a space to grow your business like Blake and the Zimple team, why not give Dashworks a try? Join over 120 other professional and entrepreneurs – book your free 5-day trial here.

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