Today’s student success spotlight is with Bart Mroz. It’s our hope that we’re able to share a different story each week of how a past student has been able to significantly grow their freelance business by applying the concepts they learned from Double Your Freelancing (check out last week’s with Torre Kean). If you feel your story would be a good fit, share why!
Five years ago, Bart and his partner almost threw in the towel after working harder than ever before, but not seeing the results. But sticking with their new freelance business (and taking all of Brennan’s courses) in hindsight was the right choice. They’ve recently grown their company to a team of 13 and now pre-bill their clients for their monthly retainers. Curious to know how they got there? Read on!
SUMO Heavy is a Digital Commerce Strategy and Execution Firm located in New York City and Philadelphia. We’re a group of developers and designers focused on the Digital Commerce. We help build successful brands and create online retail solutions with proven results.
What got you into freelancing?
I walked into work one day and just resigned. I got home and started consulting.
That was 12 years ago. Six different companies later and I now finally have a pretty well-run company.
What’s been the most challenging part?
I think one of the most challenging aspects so far has been taking the leap to retainer-type projects.
When we first started the company, we billed based on an hourly rate. During the first year, we did a ton of work for a big client through a third party. The client racked up hours totaling over $100,000 – and then we discovered that the third party was unwilling to pay the full total.
We never did get that money back and entered the holidays with $100 in the bank and payroll to meet. That was a real wake-up call and got us to rethink how we bill for projects. Eventually, we discovered the Double Your Freelance Rate course and since then we’ve completely changed how we charge clients.
Did you ever want to quit or give up?
We most definitely considered giving up. The first year absolutely sucked. It was the hardest me and my partner have ever worked and we felt like we were constantly getting kicked in the teeth.
But we’re both incredibly stubborn (or incredibly naive) and wouldn’t let go of what we knew the company could be.
“We kept at it and we’re still here, five years later.”
What were you struggling the most before DYFR?
We struggled most with figuring out how to pitch or approach retainer-based work. We were initially cautious and did not want jump into monthly retainer pitches at the start, so we went slow.
We began by gradually increasing our rates, then incorporated bi-weekly billing. Eventually, we hit pre-billing for the week and now we are a full monthly retainer company.
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
We recently grew the company from five of us to 13 in a span of two weeks. We’ve also invested in a few startups.
What specific strategies have really helped you grow?
There are three impactful changes we implemented.
- Switching to a full retainer business with clients.
- Implementing processes in production.
- Making clients look at us as a consulting firm and not just developers.
What are you most excited about for your business in 2015?
We’re most excited about working on bigger projects and growing our team. We now have 13 employees in two different countries working on no less than 20 projects at one time.
Working on a monthly retainer with clients allows both our team and the client to be as flexible as possible. It gives the client the feeling that we’re not just another development shop – we’re a partner in their business.
“Their success is ultimately our success.”
Every business has a “suit,” and Bart is ours. Bart’s the hub for all of our communication and will be your primary touch point during our requirements gathering phase. Get to know him, get friendly with him. He’s your key to getting what you want. Not only that, but he’s a big guy and he’s our bill collector. Seriously, this is a big guy you want on your side.
Prior to founding SUMO Heavy Industries in 2010, Bart was a Partner in round3 media, a creative eCommerce agency, and Owner and Managing Director of SimplyHelp, an IT support firm in Philadelphia.