Bannerflow has come a long way in seven years.
In 2009 it was still lines of code on co-founder Daniel Jacobsson’s laptop. Skip forward to 2010 and Daniel Fahlén climbed aboard; Bannerflow AB became a reality and work on the company went full-time. It’s fair to say that in the intervening years Bannerflow has seen its fair share of successes and failures. The successes outweighing the failures by a wide margin! Yet, each step was crucial in driving the company forward.
Today, over 1,000 brands use the platform, creating over 3 million banner ads. While every second, 3,000 people view a Bannerflow ad online. Knowing what we now know, we thought we’d try and pass on some nuggets of entrepreneurial advice from one of Bannerflow’s leading figures, Daniel Fahlén. So what were the things Bannerflow needed to learn to be successful in the long term?
Lesson 1: Listen
Listen to clients. Everything Bannerflow does – and has done – comes from listening to clients and their needs. Providing solutions which benefit users is critical for long term sustainability and growth. Selling a non-existent problem doesn’t cut it. Money can’t be the motivation, making the best product is.
This means visiting customers, engaging with them and getting to know them personally. Understanding face to face what people want. Do this and it gets easier to recognise what it is they're saying and what they need (even when they’re talking about something completely different).
Lesson 2: Learn to multitask
Whatever your position, learn to perform different roles. It’s a key driver of success and something that’s in our company DNA. Remember, it’s a life or death scenario building a company. Early on, it’s vital to be able to cope with whatever life throws at you. From legal worries to writing code. At the end of the day you need to be able to execute, and just get shit done.
Lesson 3: Recruit well
Add the right people.
Recruit those who believe in the company’s journey, and can sit down together to make it happen. Sounds simple, right?
People make a company. Whether in the office or further afield. Bannerflow itself began scattered throughout Europe, before finally coming together in Stockholm!
The people around you count. They’re the most important call you can make as a start-up. Can you bounce ideas-off each other? Trust them? Think about the team you want and then who you need; how they embrace your company culture is everything. They need to understand the vision and be passionate from day one.
Lesson 4: Build a culture
This is easy in the beginning, when it’s a handful of people but hard to maintain as time goes on. Fail to maintain a culture and you forgot who you are, what it is you strive day in, day out for.
It starts with recruiting the right people who share the same values and beliefs. Everything is possible with belief. Bannerflow succeeds because of a shared belief that what we do is changing the world. We’re proud of our successes as a team and want to go further. Culture is a crucial component in creating a successful company.
Lesson 5: Fail fast!
When first starting out the Bannerflow team didn’t know everything, we made rookie errors – but we learnt to fail fast and never look back. We put our mistakes behind us and looked forward. We didn’t dwell on problems. Do that and you’ll never go anywhere, or do anything.
Be prepared though. There’s no prestige, be proud of your mistakes. Refocus and move on. In the long run it’s not a mistake, it’s a lesson you learn, and believe it or not, you do get better!
We thought conquering the world was everything in the beginning. But excel in your home environment before getting caught up in anyone else’s dreams. Success comes eventually.
Keep remembering the bigger picture and move on.
Lesson 6: It’s worth investing in advisors
One thing we’d loved to have been told at the beginning was to invest in professional advice. Don’t skimp and go for the easiest option. Lawyers, accountants; invest in them. The better they are the more you can learn from them.
The legal stuff is critical in our industry! Whether it’s legal, leadership, or booking – you need to surround yourself with people who know their stuff. Then build your own knowledge.
Take advice but remember to trust your gut feeling too, you know what is best for your company.
Lesson 7: Know the big picture!
At the heart of Bannerflow’s success has been our guiding star; the reason why we get up every morning and turn on the monitor. The bigger picture: we are changing the world by removing the mystery of digital marketing.
Sounds corny – we know – but it’s true.
We want to make a mark. And we’ll always strive to be bigger, bolder, and better. It’s never been about the money.
Remember, you have one boss and they’re your customers. Make the best product you can and exceed their expectations.
Lesson 8: Break the rules!
Be bold, dare to do stuff that no one else will. Or do stuff no one has tried, or believed could be done. We did. In the beginning the market wasn’t ready for Bannerflow but when the tide came back in, we were ready.
Yes, timing is everything but is it luck? In Sweden there is a saying, said by one of our most famous skiers, Ingemar Stenmark: “I don't know anything about luck, but that the harder I train, the luckier I get.”
Hard work is important, put in the hours in and focus on the bigger picture.
Disrupt and have belief.
There you have it, our lessons on how to be successful in the long term from someone who’s been there, and is still doing it. If there’s anything you’d like to comment on, do it. Bannerflow is all about listening, so get in touch and we’ll talk, that’s what we do.
It took seven years to build Bannerflow to where it is today, and there’ll be more lessons to learn that’s for sure.