13 Melbourne Media Consulting


$2.77 million




Chris Clerke (34), Lawrence Penn (32)

Head Office





Advertising, arts and media



For the co-founder of Melbourne Media Consulting (MMC) Chris Clerke, starting the digital marketing agency was his first-ever foray into the world of business running, and he tells SmartCompany the first year was by far the hardest.

“The hardest part was the initial 12 months. Clearly not taking a wage was hard enough as it was, but then trying to figure out all of the aspects of running a business — accounting, marketing, project management, operations, chasing invoices, bookkeeping — along with trying to grow the client base,” he says.

“Running the business by myself from my apartment was extremely challenging. I was always wondering if I’d made the wrong decision, wondering if I was capable of getting through the first part, and keeping that constant mental fortitude.”

The co-founder says striving to stay positive while continuously visualising where the end goal for his business was allowed him to fight through the tough times — MMC has grown 207% over the last three years, with a revenue of $2.7 million.

Clerke also enlisted another co-founder, Lawrence Penn, and the two say they have significant and ambitious goals for the next 12 months, which will see them hire another four staff on top of their existing 10.

“It is vital that we continue to invest in our business and continue to grow, so that we can always offer our clients a competitive edge in this saturated market. We will never stop evolving, and we always plan at least two or three years ahead,” they say.

“This is an incredibly fast-moving industry, so we need to be very nimble to stay ahead of the game.”

Clerke and Penn say the most important thing business owners can do is be kind to themselves, noting that starting a business is “a lot harder than people think”.

“Know that it’s all growth, and the learnings you will get by going through the process will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

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