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7 Questions with Ammar Falak
7 Questions with Ammar Falak
Name: Ammar Falak
Current title: Founder & CEO
Current organisation: Marcabees
I have been working in the Digital Marketing industry since 2013. Currently, I am running a Digital Marketing Agency in Bangalore, India since 2016. The name of the Agency is Marcabees, and we have successfully delivered Digital Marketing services to over 60 clients from over 10 countries.
I am passionate about Digital Marketing and am obsessed with delivering successful ROI based campaigns for my clients.
I expertise in Digital Advertising especially Google Ads and Facebook & Instagram Ads along with SEO and Social Media Marketing.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Scaling has been one of the challenges I have faced constantly. During the early days of Marcabees I consciously took a decision to run a bootstrapped start-up where our customers were the priority rather than the investors.
Hence, scaling a bootstrapped agency has been tough. However, we are here for the long-haul, we will get there!
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Since my MBA days, I always wanted to start my own company. And I had a plan on how and when to get there. I decided to gather 5-7 years of work experience before starting something on my own.
However, in 2016, when I was working for a Pune based start-up I realised that my field (digital marketing) is evolving quicker than I had projected. If I didn't move in now and started my own agency, someone else was going to beat me to it.
So, at the age of 23 with only 3 years of work experience under my belt, I decided to embark on this remarkable journey.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Initially everything was haywire. I would work on projects till midnight and the next morning I might wake up at 6 or 8 and started to grind again. And on somedays I would sleep at 7 AM and wake up at about noon.
This unscheduled structure started to affect my health and it was impossible to keep this up after I got married.
Then I strictly decided to create a schedule and adhere to it. Now I start my day at 7:30 AM, get to the office at 10 AM and work till 8 PM. I try to stay away from work the other 14 hours of my day to avoid burn-out.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
During these COVID times, I came across a quote recently that taught me a great deal.
"Only dead fish swim with the current"
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Book: Blue Ocean Strategy
Of the many leadership lessons this book taught me, I would like to tell about the most significant one:
This book taught me on how to effectively communicate strategies to my colleagues, team and clients; and how to get them on-board in order to implement a strategy successfully.
Without effective communication and ample motivation, no strategy is going to be executed properly irrespective of how good a plan is or how much would it impact everyone.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
First and foremost, you need to know your leadership style based on your strengths and weaknesses.
Effective communication in my book is a must quality in a leader. Irrespective of the size of the team, communicating effectively and efficiently can do wonders.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
In 2017, I completed 1 year of running my agency. It was a tough year, we didn't make a healthy revenue, employees were demotivated and almost all of them had started looking for better job opportunities.
I decided to review our year and see what we did or didn't do that brought us here. After my research it was evident that we had followed "red ocean strategy". We were focussed on beating our competitors rather than focussing on being different than them.
Another fatal mistake we made was that our client retention rate was terrible. We were losing clients left, right and centre. And the cherry on top of the cake was that our sales team was not effective in converting new sales quickly as the organization was new and companies generally didn't trust us.
So I stood in front of our team and presented a plan on how we could change all of this. Of course, I did find a few demotivated faces and I told the team that if anyone wanted to leave now, they could! I would write the best recommendation letter and won't even ask them to complete their notice period (if they didn't want to serve).
Few employees packed their stuff and left, few stayed and believed with me that we could turn this around. And today we did manage to implement those strategies and turned things around.
I believe that was a make or break situation for my agency. Had I retained all my employees and had they worked in a demotivated fashion, there was no way we were going to come out successfully irrespective of how good the plan was.
It was important to retain the best people and motivate them enough to follow my vision.