Being young in business can be an advantage, but having a young family to support leaves little room for error. Ben Bradshaw knows all too well what this is like.
Bradshaw is the founder and sole director of Brisbane-based business SponsoredLinX, the largest Australian-owned AdWords management company, employing more than 50 staff.
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Founded in 2006, SponsoredLinX now services 1200 clients including the Australian Government, Jim’s Group, Sony Music and a host of mum-and-dad businesses.
“We’re focused on a results-based model. If a client gets the result, they stay on board. If they don’t, we lose them, so we have to be good at what we do,” Bradshaw says.
Aged just 29, Bradshaw has been identified as one of SmartCompany’s Hot 30 Under 30, and is also a bona fide magician, even holding a Guinness World Record for one of his magic tricks.
But the road to success has been long and arduous. At the age of 17, Bradshaw’s girlfriend fell pregnant, putting immense pressure on them both, financially and emotionally.
“For my 18th birthday, I got a pram… It was then I realised that I needed to do something drastic to turn my life around,” Bradshaw says.
Bradshaw found a job in carpet sales and made a name for himself as a hot young salesman. All the while, he remained determined to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a magician.
“Early on, I started to kick some serious sales goals and enjoyed the feeling of achieving something for myself and my young family.”
“Looking back, this was probably when I first got addicted to the taste of success.”
“In my pursuit [to become a magician], I ended up having to market myself on the internet, which is when I came across Google Adwords. I pretty much had a business overnight,” he says.
Having tested a number of methods for Google AdWords, Bradshaw set up SponsoredLinX along with his wife Shannah, who has since had a second child.
Shortly after its inception, SponsoredLinX was approached to become one of a select few authorised Google resellers. But in more recent times, it has been dealt its fair share of blows.
“Last year, we had heaps of adversities including the Brisbane floods, which saw access to the office blocked off,” Bradshaw says.
“Then about 10 months later, the office below us caught fire and it spread to our sales area, which was affected for over a month.”
Nevertheless, SponsoredLinX is aiming for $15 million in revenue this year. Bradshaw says the fear of failure has been a huge motivator over the years.
“We’re the product of our thoughts, so every time I think of something bad happening, it takes the energy away from the task at hand,” he says.
His advice for other young entrepreneurs? Expect problems and “eat them for breakfast”.
“Speed humps and obstacles are part of business – don’t be surprised by them… You can’t change the wind but you can adjust your sails,” he says.
“I believe problems are all part and parcel of the job. How can you recognise and appreciate the good times if there are no struggles on the journey?”
Bradshaw believes every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves two key questions in order to succeed.
“What are you willing to do and what are you willing to sacrifice? Those two questions hold the key,” he says.