Episode 191: Quadruple Your Business Income with Ben Harper

Growing a company in the middle of a pandemic can be really, really hard because of the lockdown and the myriad of economic restrictions but our guest today did not only manage to make an income for their business, they QUADRUPLED it! Meet Ben Harper, the Founder of Meet Hugo. They founded the company in 2018 to help B2B companies grow. In this episode, Adam Stott talks with Ben Harper about all things marketing and how they were able to quadruple their earnings in the middle of a Global Pandemic.


Show Highlights:

  • How much Meet Hugo grew when Ben Harper started the company in 2018
  • Ben Harper’s deepest fears as we approach the lockdown period due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • How email marketing is being utilized for Meet Hugo to achieve growth
  • Ben Harper’s mindset in running Meet Hugo
  • Quadrupling Meet Hugo in the worst period in recent history

Links Mentioned:

Big Business Events Members Network
Meet Hugo


Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott: 

Good evening everybody and welcome to tonight’s completely a live podcast of business growth secrets tonight. I’ve got some really exciting guests to bring you this evening, so really looking forward to welcoming him on in just a moment. This is somebody that I wanted to bring specifically to this podcast so you could get an understanding someone’s actually succeeding and doing some great things in lockdown.

Now I know a lot of you, a lot of our followers, a lot of our clients or a lot of the people that have been listening following the podcast, following their lives are getting great results. I think this individual has been building a quite an innovative market business, and I’m really strong right, and he’s been he’s forced from nine people to 44 people over this period, expanded his business and broke through the seven figure barrier and what could be described as one of the hardest times ever in British business history, so I think he’s going to be also in tonight.

So I’m gonna be welcoming in just a moment. For this evening, make sure you go on and say hello already yourselves as soon as a few people saying hello tonight, which is awesome I’ll bring the lines up so I can see the names coming through the group this evening as well as on their straightaway saying hey, we’ve got a few more hellos coming in, which is awesome, a few good evenings. So I want you to do tonight is make sure you get super engaged. If you’ve got questions, this is your opportunity to ask my guests Ben questions tonight as well. What was his mentality when he was looking at expanding his business? Why did he look at doing things slightly different as to what the usual kind of mold was rather than looking to a not to like to contract actually to go and expand.

So, Ben Harper is my guest. His company is meet you go, and they are a sales intelligence marketing business so they use their business to actually connect other businesses with leads. So many of you are watching and pretty much everyone’s watching tonight as business owners. So this could be somebody that actually could provide leads for you and opportunities for you as well. So, Ben welcome on, buddy. Great to have you on you’re looking forward to it. 

Ben Harper:


Adam Stott: 
Awesome. So we’ve got quite a few people coming on saying hello tonight. The purpose of this evening for everyone is we’ve got a big network of business owners that follow the podcast people will be listening on the podcast below people listening on YouTube, we got people listen on Facebook, we got people listening on my Facebook group. We got lot of people listen to my Adam Stott pages gone out pretty much in many different places so no question about it.

What I like to do with these interviews is I like to bring a real different vibe as business owners we’ve got tons of different guests that come in on over the next few weeks, and I’m always looking for success stories, and people that are achieving success in different ways and I think what we’ve done. You know when I was reading the articles, and looking at what you’d actually done during this period I thought was awesome. So first of all big pat on the back to you for what you’ve managed to do and the mentality to have. 

Do you want to maybe give a brief introduction, who you are, what it is that you’ve been doing? Maybe you can tell us a little bit about the story of how you approach these lockdowns, despite I’m sure you’re panicked at first but what you’ve done in order to get your business so on track and moving in the right direction as 04:06.

Ben Harper:
Yeah, sure. I’m CEO founder of 04:10 to ourselves intelligence platform, it connects b2b businesses with opportunities, leads, 04:17 directors, owners and sales teams. Basically, so they can get on to something better. So, we set up in 2018, September 2018, so it’s pretty new in the business. It’s a bit that’s actually through 2019 got a tech right, got sort of product market fit, got things going well. Then at the start of 2021 right, now it’s time to start scaling up so hard to people so we bought a new sales manager, a new property sales team and property December 2009 team was something that took over the cost of goods 2020 and then virus came.

So, at first it was, yeah, as you’d expect which I had a chance to, you know, 04:57 and you know, not sell anything for the next year what’s going to happen. But yeah, very lucky position that we have furthered anyone time, we have had any sort of negative impacts apart from the fact that it’s slightly harder for us to sell sometimes because other 05:14 are struggling. And what’s so grim for people to about 44 people whose offices are in repair revenue. I think a lot of it comes from just taking action to just like sit down and wait for this to take us over we’re gonna fight back and push on. And we’ve done a bunch of different things basically to try and make it a 05:36 

Adam Stott: 
Let’s look of that mindset, first of all, one of the things I’ve been running recently and helping business owners with is a mindset webinar. And one of the reasons that we chose to do mindset during this period is because the reality is when it comes to business is, if you’re going to succeed in business it’s almost a decision isn’t? It’s a decision whether you want to kind of curl up and look out there and say, take the market, or whether you want to find a strategy that works so when you were having these challenges you’ve hit 2020, you’ve gone and you’ve expanded and by the way, Ben was just mentioned, there is seven figure in recurring revenue. Seven figures in recurring revenue is a million pound in recurring revenue. That means that your business before you can start you’ve got million pound coming into your business. That’s a pretty good work on that. So well done to you there, that’s awesome. 

You know, and you signed the point you went into lockdown there’s no kid like that so you go into lockdown or you start to see the effects of lockdown coming in March last year. Where were you at that point? What kind of revenue figures were you actually at when you were in March last year at that point?

Ben Harper:
So I think we’re doing, I think. February. February 2020 and it probably did something like 35 grams. So we were a lot more than we are now, we probably 8, 9 stop at that point when we started seeing coming. And we started a couple weeks before the government would lock down we shut the offices a few people who are worried about it, understandably, luckily for technology and everything we’re able to work remotely, so it’s totally fine. Something really impacts us too much. But yeah, we were kind of we’re pretty small, pretty likable, 07:16 

Adam Stott: 
So, you’re small. You’re vulnerable; you’ve not got much cash in the bank. It’s hold you got a sharp, you got a tiny team, and you’re doing, and your business has quadrupled during the worst time in history. So your business growth secrets is what we’re all about. So we got to find out. We’re gonna pull them out, man.

So what was it for you that allowed you sort of the scope for a process go step by step. So what were your first reaction is so you’ve got to lead your team, you’re the owner of the business right so you got to start leading your team something you’d say that point maybe being a little bit panicked. For his backgrounds I have another marketing business before and he’s told to a venture capital exit.

So he’s not his first rodeo, you’ve been for the answer, not necessarily the downs but you sold your last business which is awesome. What did you do in this situation and I want to kind of try and share some of the mentality. One of the first things you? Oh okay, let’s do this differently. What were the fears that you had? What were your deepest fears at a point where 08:19 

Ben Harper:

Firstly, it was just taking all these people, 08:26 this cost. I’ve got to pay for it. We kind of monitor, kind of, ops manager and sales manager when we think we might lose a third of our customers, worst case, we’re just due to cut costs and cut things like that. They’re going to cut, someone or go bankrupt, etc. We think there’s a third and risk. Plus, we might not sell anything for an unknown amount of time. Just take on some new salespeople so that was that was immediate they’re like, are we gonna have to shrink back to survive. Basically, that’s the worry.

First worry, and obviously further and stuff came out so we could kind of see of we can, worst case scenario, if we have an excuse that we will just be okay. But it was a case of not wanting to do that really kind of realizing that the way our product works and the way we’re positioned. There’s enough other businesses out there as well. What did those leads and there’s opportunities, and they can spend their money on conferences or networking or things they might spend them on, actually. 09:25 

Adam Stott: 

Okay, so we know that businesses want to grow. During this period. Okay. You’ve gone out there and you’ve had the attitude. You know what this guy is gonna start rocking on 09:49 affairs, or the first moves that you made to go and push the business on. Okay, so you’ve got to make some moves now. What are those moves that you’re going to make during these periods that can push the business on the 09:58 to bring some more clients in?

Ben Harper:
So one thing we did straight away, is we because we opposites, international we can work with anyone, effectively, and probably about that point for about 30% of our clients in the States. The rest of what here, what we do straightaway is hired to outsource in March. I have an outsourced Philippines team to go and be our Salesforce, because the US was shutting down, rightly or wrongly they were just cracking on honestly. 10:23 Obviously not overflow for us which gets picked up pretty well and that’s now. Probably about 60% of our client base, basically, the UK market for us, got a bit slow for a week or two. And then when they 10:43 in which is probably 10:45 to announced and bounce back loans and all that stuff.

People start having a bit more confidence with us. So then we realize okay we need to actually we need to stop thinking about the fears and start thinking about how to capitalize on it as best as possible. So by April we’d hired three marketing manager, three or four new sales reps, up to the research team, we start talking to features these years, let’s get rid of them to get him on board. And we’re kind of making plans to see how we can find the rest of it, basically. 

Adam Stott:
Okay, awesome. So we start making the most of the conferences come back in a little way, start making most of that and get growth, personally, out of business so many years ago I mentioned it earlier as we came on, it’s a sound intelligence platform where you can actually get leads for businesses, so say a business wants a branding or a business wants a website you mentioned was the example you gave to them lead, so you do that and then in intelligent 11:40 in a slightly different way. And I believe that they’ve been buying a subscription of leads from you, is that correct? 

Ben Harper:
That’s right. Yes. Yeah. 

Adam Stott:
So, what did you do to go and what are your methods for going out and building businesses and getting new business. Let’s start with, like, what are your top three ways for the people listening tonight for you, for your business, what’s the main ways of going out there and getting business for your business?

Ben Harper:
So let’s say, the one that was always pretty big for us is we do not be my marketing, we capture our data, we email those people, we sell the projects alarm system that was sent to our clients. We sent them details of them and then briefly12:14 went through. Secondly, I think, getting your sales team much the right people with the right dynamics and that team.

So, we hired a sales manager, who kind of quickly change the cultural sales side internally, which has been really big for us, and have been kind of 12:34 pretty big. And thirdly, I think it’s to be prepared to just have a go and do things. So same this November lockdown hit. Many different leaders as much as. None of us speak German. 12:47 Say it’s about just those three things are the biggest three things for us I think.

Adam Stott:
Looking at new markets for your email market I mean because you’ve got a marketing background, you had a market agency, SEO PPC, but you still will be fan of email marketing. 

Ben Harper:

We do the digital works do PPC SEO content. Things like this we do all sorts of things but the thing that cuts through the most still for us as marketers. We were always soft CMOS always tasked with, how do we split other leads that we get more Wish me 13:23 don’t rely on it, doesn’t mean, we don’t want to take a survey. 13:28 

Adam Stott:

Absolutely. So, why don’t you share some info for the people listening tonight on email marketing and tell them a little bit why you feel that email marketing still relevant in today’s market and because a lot of business owners, they’re always looking for the shiny new object, and I’ve said this for years is if you’ve got a database and you’ve built a database and you’ve got a new database, and you’re not speaking to him you’re ignoring that low hanging fruit. Right. And, you know, essentially we don’t want to ignore that low hanging fruit people know you, they like you, they trust you already.

They’re more already above you, so why wouldn’t you keep communicating with them so you know what’s your opinion on on that ban and why should business owners listening tonight be actually made me look into emails or wait for them to go and get new business?

Ben Harper:
Yeah I think I just said that, the people want to hear from you. 14:15 they want your information and then, why wouldn’t you. I think the key thing is a lot of people doing a project from the past that you send one email to us. And then, it doesn’t work. But the key is to be consistent with it, take them down to a powerful time, 14:31 just get smart with it really, what we’ll do generally is we’ll send.

What we will send someone a really high value project that fits what you do. Great. And then we’ll follow up. A week later with about projects don’t have one yet, or low value projects, just kind of test whether you have interaction with them, and eventually someone will find them available 14:53. Generally, because they’re saying the things that they want. So, it works. 

Adam Stott:
14:59 a highly targeted approach here in that market, 

Ben Harper:
15:04 What they do, where they are. What kind of budget level they’re probably have. A lot of lists a lot of data that we’ve collected over time, broken down as finely as we can basically. So we can get the right stuff, especially when you’re dealing with the states there’s no point sending a web designer in New York or San Francisco. But yeah, 15:21 

Adam Stott:

Of course, of course. A lot of people don’t do, they certainly don’t segment their databases, especially a small business that you’ve gotten from being in the beginning a small business. Okay and now you’re running with 44 staff, seven figure in recurring revenue so doing some good stuff there some good work. What would you say would be your free just general tips for small business I know a lot of people on tonight. They’re either starting, growing or, you know, in the first year or two years. What kind of insurance you give to somebody that said those early stages of a business, what would you say the three most important things for you are either the mindset of running a business or the three most important action someone should be taking at that stage? 

Ben Harper:

I think it is for me In terms of mindset is thinking about your time and delegation really. So a really strong management team now that we’ve kind of headhunted and acquired 16:16 Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Technical Officer, search Chief Operating Officer. And the point of kind of investing in having that level of personnel, means that I’m free to think about working on the business rather than working in the business so and that’s been the case, since fairly early on.

So when it started I did everything, just me. 16:40 did the work and one of the clients never sell to the customer service personnel is in a place where they’re being handled by really good people with really good teams, and that means that I’m here to think about what’s next, what we should be doing and what the strategy is. And it’s hard to get to that, because of money, but kind of working towards getting to that point and not making of that rely on me, and then get those people trusting us go and just do it is just the main thing I’d say it’s really hard to do because people don’t always do things how people want to do, but we’ve got to trust the people smarter than me as best you can, 17:16 

Adam Stott:
Who I say you know there’s multiple different stages of a business and what you’re talking about there is, it pretty much a stage to where a business owners you rather than you and business, either the business will control you, you’re doing absolutely everything. and there’s a ton of business owners out there that where the business controls them, rather than them controlling it. And you got the answer there, you know, as to how you get out of that stage and that is you invest in the business, you invest in good people, but there’s a lot of fear from a lot of business owners about investing in their business, there’s a lot of fear by investing people, there’s a lot of fear about investing in marketing, there’s a lot of fear generally just about investing generally.

Why would you say you’ve bucked the trend on that? Because clearly, you’ve got a risk appetite, which is that as an entrepreneur, which is awesome, right. That’s why you succeeded because you’ve got the right risk appetite. But most people don’t have that. So what would you say you’ve done to cultivate that because that wouldn’t have always been there so you look back, how’s that being 18:14 on?

Ben Harper:
I think I’ve always had that kind of risk 18:20 from my career I start off the police as an intelligence analyst originally, completely different. 18:25 Crime versus foreign working on where the torpedoes strike next or whatever. But later on in my career, I worked for a company called 18:36 in London. We worked with, we were the social contract, going around the company was a bit of a mentor suppose and just wild decisions based on his vision, and risk taking in the stock, 18:53 because it’s getting in the way of my product plans, things like that and I guess he rubbed off on me a little bit about what we say he was like, we’re just gonna match up 19:04. We got to figure out. I think because we know what we’re doing.

For the most part, and we can see, we’re looking at its description model everything’s really transparent. 19:21 whether it’s target etc. We can see really fast if something’s working or not. And I think that makes us able to take less risk because we can tell really quickly it’s not working, to know what we exchange, generally, so having that kind of level of insight into the business is really useful to strike metrics which kind of enforce all of that for example, see everything is finished.

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