Take a trip down memory lane with our Founder.

SBJ turns 4 years old in just over a month, and this time of year always makes me feel nostalgic, optimistic and proud of everything we’ve managed to achieve and overcome since we started.

4 years ago, we were a completely different business…

As we approach our 4th birthday, we are a boutique digital marketing agency, a team of 5 and working with our dream portfolio of clients.

For our clients each year, we’re generating over $1 million dollars in collective revenue through paid ads, writing approximately 3,000+ captions, creating over 2,000+ Instagram stories, spending 800+ hours doing community management, creating approximately 30 social media strategies, and on top of that… we’ve now trained and mentored hundreds [and hundreds] of businesses in paid social media advertising, too.

We have grown into a team of 5 incredible humans & digital marketers which has seen us build a team culture that, as a business owner, is one of my proudest creations to date. We don’t always get it right, but man oh MAN, have we come far since day 1.

We’re a 100% remotely-working team, and we’re passionate about building an agency that fosters work-life harmony, professional growth and a flexible lifestyle for each employee, … whilst simultaneously making a big impact on the brands & businesses we choose to work with.

But, it certainly hasn’t always been this way! So, come and take a trip down memory lane with me as I dive into the 4 x years that got SBJ to where it is now…

Year ONE [June 2018 – May 2019] 💜

Short version:

Launched the business and our first (awful) website, started my own social media marketing, landed my first client, eventually started making enough money to cover my rent and food (approx $500 a week), quit my admin job to pursue SBJ full time and hired my first contractor.

Long version:

Ah, our first year in business. I was 19, living in the Blue Mountains, working as an Admin Assistant for 3 days per week, waitressing on the weekends and managing the social media of 1 x business for $10 a day.

I think back to who I was back then and cringe a little bit… but also? I feel so proud that 19 y/o me had the courage to launch a business in an industry I knew absolutely no one in and nothing about.

On June 10th, I officially launched SBJ’s first website [I made it myself. And it sucked. Badly].

It was also around this time that I began my own social media marketing, and despite having about 2 followers… I showed up every single day, kept creating content and kept sharing my story, expertise and vision despite the fact it felt like I was talking to no one.

But hey, even Beyonce started with zero followers… right?!

For the first 3 months, it was crickets. Despite showing up daily, I didn’t land a single client… our social media following and engagement, however, was going strong! I started to build relationships and connections with other businesses and brands online – I was having so much fun with it. Slowly but surely, our name was getting out there.

After 3 months of what felt like talking to a brick wall, … a lead came through.

A REAL LEAD [!!!]

We booked a call to discuss working together and I was beside myself with excitement and nerves. I can’t remember why, but I actually decided to record the conversation on Photobooth – so I still have the footage of my very first sales call AND my reaction to landing SBJ’s first ever client.

The client said yes to working with me, we hung up… and I literally jumped up and down around the room with the biggest smile on my face.

I won’t link the video because it’s too embarrassing, but here’s a preview of me, mid-air, post landing my first client:

And so, SBJ was officially a *real* business, with real clients.

From here, SBJ snowballed in the best way. The next 6 months that followed saw SBJ land enough clients to make me about $500 a week as a sole trader [this covered my rent and food]. So, I made the decision to quit my other jobs and pursue SBJ full time by January 2019.

Soon enough, I was bombarded with client work and made the decision to hire my first contractor – Hannah [the most beautiful soul].

Year TWO: [June 2019 – May 2020] 💜

Short version:

Our client portfolio grew like crazy, I struggled to keep up, I hired a VA, I felt like a failure no matter how hard I worked, I signed up for a life-changing business mentorship program, I defined the vision I had for SBJ, we became a company, we rebranded, and things began to shift… big time.

Long version:

Honestly, this year was such a blur. Our portfolio began to grow like crazy as we attracted more and more work through social media. I remember I’d wake up most mornings in an absolute panic, knowing that my to-do list was impossible to achieve in a day before even sitting down at my laptop.

Despite having a bit of help [Hannah + our VA, Cass], I had a heavy feeling/weight on my shoulders that I was always failing at least one person, trying to juggle an impossible workload as the only full time team member at SBJ.

I felt trapped, close to burn-out and like a failure most days.

In hindsight, a big part of this came from SBJ lacking the systems and strategy we needed in place to support a full portfolio of clients and still allow room for growth and profit.

It was around this time that I came across the unstoppable Pru Chapman from Owner’s Collective and discovered her Business Mentoring Program – High End Hustlers. Something about Pru and her philosophy really resonated with me, so I made the decision to sign up to HEH.

At the time, it was the biggest and scariest investment I’d ever made in my business, but I had a strong gut feeling that it was exactly what I needed as a 20 y/o solopreneur trying to navigate business ownership.

I was right.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until participating in this program in 2019 that I really sat down and thought about the vision, values and direction that I wanted SBJ to pursue.

The first 18 months of building SBJ were so unexpectedly fast-paced that I never actually took a moment to sit back and think, “What are my values? What is my vision? What exactly am I hoping to achieve through this business and why?”

At the time, this was GAME CHANGING STUFF, and triggered me to make the big decision to rebrand from “Socials By Jarrah” to “SBJ Studios” – as our name and branding no longer aligned with my vision for the business.

Come November 2019, we became a company, we launched our rebrand and it was one of the BEST things we ever did. It was a huge milestone moment, and a catalyst to SBJ attracting the type of work that saw us begin to go from strength to strength.

We entered 2020 as a team of 3; Hannah, our VA Cass, and myself – still as the only full time team member.

Year THREE [June 2020 – May 2021] 💜

Short version:

We scaled hugely, survived the first leg of the pandemic, I got a new business coach, we hired Zoya, we hired Gabi, we became a team of 4 and from here? It was GAME ON for SBJ, but not without its challenges.

Long version:

Ah, COVID. I’m honestly so bored of talking about it now so I’ll keep this part short – but overall? SBJ was one of the lucky ones during the pandemic. We were already 100% remote, and we worked in an industry that was in high demand as every business started to move online in a panic. Like most, we lost a few clients in the beginning, but not long after we experienced another rapid growth phase, particularly with paid ads management clients as Facebook Ads started to take off.

After the initial shock that COVID triggered [that actually led me to letting go of our VA] a few really big and beautiful things happened to us in our 3rd year that I will forever consider to be some of our biggest and bestest milestones.

Firstly, I began one-on-one business coaching for the first time with Ami Summers from Craft Coaching and Development. Words cannot describe the love and admiration I have for this woman, she has truly played an integral role in my journey as a founder and I still work very closely with her today.

Secondly, I put out an ad for SBJ’s next Facebook Ads Manager. And WOW… we were bombarded with applicants – it was surreal to me that so many amazing people wanted to work with SBJ.

Enter Zoya. Our Paid Ads and Digital Strategy Specialist. 🌈

My interview with Zoya is one I will never ever forget. I jumped off the zoom call and felt an overwhelming, euphoric sense of excitement and alignment… I knew she was the perfect fit for the role and needless to say, I was 110% right. Employing Zoya was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I know she feels just as good about it.

A few months went by and come March 2021? SBJ was, yet again, struggling to keep up with demand. A good problem to have, but it never feels good at the time.

So, I decided it was time to hire again… this time for an organic Social Media Manager. I popped up the ad on our socials and holy moly… my inbox was flooded with amazing applicants.

Enter Gabi. Our Head of Social. 🌈

Gabi and I booked a zoom interview, and I actually can’t remember much except the fact that I burst into happy tears after just one zoom call with Gab. Yup, it was safe to say she got the job. YAY!

For the first time, we were now a team of four [Zoya, Gabi, Hannah and I], with three of us being full time … and it was game on for SBJ from here.

But certainly not without its challenges.

Year FOUR [June 2021 – NOW] 💜

Short version:

The best and most challenging year. We had our first team retreat, Gabi was promoted, we hired Ash, we said a sad goodbye to Hannah, we hired Kim, I faced things for the first time as a Founder, I’ve committed myself to becoming financially literate, I’m the most motivated and inspired I’ve ever been, my focus is now on SBJ’s foundations, rather than more growth. Things get a little worse before they get better.

Long version:

Easily my absolute favourite year in business, but also easily the most challenging.

We had our first team retreat in June 2021; four days and three nights in Coogee NSW. The incredible team at Davy Partners visited us to facilitate a full day of HR-workshopping where we unpacked our individual DISC assessments, our personality types, and how we can each work best together as a team – it was so inspiring. It was best few days together; growing even closer as a team, eating lots of yummy food, drinking all the wine and all the peppermint tea. SBJ’s retreats will absolutely be an annual thing for us!

Not long after, we were thrown into another lockdown here in NSW. Joy!

A couple of months went by and Gabi’s role very quickly turned out to be much more than we both anticipated … and her work-life balance [that is so incredibly important to me] subsequently suffered. The absolute last thing I was/am trying to build is a workplace that pushes its people to burnout.

So, as a Founder, I made a few key decisions that changed the trajectory of SBJ and our organic department for the better…

  1. We ditched influencer marketing as a service [another great decision and a story I’ll dive into another day].
  2. Gabi was promoted from Social Media Manager to our Head of Social. YAAAASSS!
  3. I put out an ad to hire another junior social media manager, to help support Gabi in managing our rapidly growing organic department.

Enter Ash. Our Social Media Manager. 🌈

Ash’s interview was another one of those euphoric, happy-tears-flowing moments for me as a founder. She brought a level of work ethic and enthusiasm to SBJ that has well and truly changed SBJ for the better.

Ash joined our team at an incredibly exciting time, entering our organic department to work alongside Gabi… and it was honestly like the stars aligned with these two, they work together in the most beautiful way and I know our clients absolutely adore them and the work they do.

As a team of 5, we made it to the end of 2021 [our biggest year ever].

In January 2022, Hannah made the difficult decision to leave SBJ and pursue her career in gymnastics. It was SO sad to see her go, but we knew it was the right thing for Hannah and fully supported her decision… whilst still subtly hinting that if she were to ever need work? We’d always be here, hehe!

Our organic department, again, struggled to keep up with demand. A good problem to have, but like I said…. never feels good at the time.

Enter Kim. Our Community Manager. 🌈

Hiring Kim has been amazing for SBJ, and in hindsight, something we definitely should’ve done sooner! She is the most beautiful soul, and our clients adore her attention to detail.

And so, we kick off 2022 as a team of 5 incredible humans.

The first half of this year has been challenging for me as I do a LOT of things for the first time as a leader, business-owner and 20-something year old.

Internally, I am in the trenches *fighting* to understand the financial side of business so that I can scale this element as beautifully as we have with the people, clients and systems we now work with daily.

Externally, our clients are supported beautifully, and the impact we’re making on other companies around the world is something I’m incredibly proud of every day.

NOW – May 2022 💜

I can hand on my heart say that I am the most inspired and motivated I have ever felt as we approach our 4th birthday.

Having a team of such incredibly talented and enthusiastic people around me has well-and-truly lit a fire in my belly as I manage, build and lead this company for not only myself… but for the amazing humans it now employs too.

At times, this pressure can feel overwhelming [to say the least]. But I really do thrive off it and feel I’ve made so much progress in the last 12 months as a Founder.

Our systems and processes? Have never been better.

Our people? Easily the best thing about this business and the reason I get up in the morning.

Our clients? Well-and-truly aligned to us, changing the world in their respective niches.

What’s next for us?

Sometimes, things get a little bit worse before they get better. And I think that’s exactly where we are right now. I can feel it in my gut that we are on the verge of greatness. And that might sound a little cringe, … but it’s genuinely how I’m feeling right now.

2022, for me as a leader, is all about walking-the-walk, delivering the results for my team and subsequently having the room to reward each person in the way(s) that mean the most to them as individuals.

I’m not interested in more growth for the time being, but I am interested in nailing our foundations to facilitate more healthy growth when we’re ready as a company.

I beat myself up a lot and carry what I can only imagine “mum guilt” feels like, but as my Dad/mentors always remind me… I can take comfort in the fact that my intentions are pure and that I truly do have the people I employ and the clients I work with at the heart and soul of my purpose.

IT’S GAME ON FOR SBJ! 🌈

Final note…

Each year has been super different, with different triumphs and different challenges along the way.

This business and I are well and truly “growing up” together, and we’re still very much a baby business, but I know in my GUT that we are on the right path.. and I’m forever grateful for the life lessons business-ownership has taught me so early on in life.

If you made it this far, I would LOVE to hear from you and hear what you think and where you’re at too.

Feel free to send me a personal message on @jarrah_sbj xxx

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.