Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Dream Client Academy: Growing A Consulting Firm To $31k/Month At 21 Years Old

Alex Albarran
Alex Albarran
March 1, 2020
Category of startup
Marketing
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
$25k-$100k/mo
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Dream Client Academy: Growing A Consulting Firm To $31k/Month At 21 Years Old

Alex Albarran
Alex Albarran
March 1, 2020
Category of startup
Marketing
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

After graduating from high school, Alex started a healthy food delivery business. As a side-project, he also began managing the marketing campaigns of some local businesses. Eventually, the marketing business started bringing much more than the food one, so he decided to focus on that. Nowadays, and with only 21 years, Alex’s consulting firm makes $31,000/month.

Ad

No Code MBA Logo

No Code MBA teaches you how to build powerful apps, websites, and automations using the most popular ‘no-code’ tools. Learn how to build real-world projects like Product Hunt, Tinder and Zillow. Get 50% off with code FAILORY.

Hi Alex! What's your background, and what are you currently working on?

Hey everyone ! My name is Alex Albarran, I’m 21 years old and the founder of Dream Client Academy. We’re a consulting firm based in Hollywood, Florida.

Dream Client Academy is a company dedicated to unlocking rapid growth for client-businesses. We do this through marketing consulting services & training programs.

I bootstrapped the company and have grown it from $0 to $31K in monthly revenue (as of February 2020).

My current role as Founder/CEO has evolved into focusing mainly on business development, product development, managing our team members, and client-retention.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

When I graduated high school, I launched a healthy meal delivery/catering company (called “Slim Pickins Meals”) from my parent’s kitchen. This was my first “real” business operation where I learned about things like payroll, overhead, COGS, delegation, marketing/sales KPIs + much more.

Health food delivery business
Example of one of our most popular breakfast meals - homemade organic banana pancakes with agave syrup

I eventually moved into a commercial kitchen space as I outgrew my parent’s home kitchen (and they wanted their kitchen back on the weekends).

While I was running that company, I started helping other business owners at my church run social media advertising campaigns as I had built up a solid knowledge base from managing advertising campaigns for my own company.

It started out as very part-time but organically grew to the point where my consulting business was generating more profit than my catering company. I then eventually decided to shut down the catering company so I could focus on growing my consulting company full-time.

I came to this decision in part because of the low-overhead business model that the consulting company offered, the improved work/life balance, and my strengths as an entrepreneur aligned more with this business.


How did you build Dream Client Academy?

I was handling EVERYTHING by myself at first, including sales, business development, client-fulfillment, billing, content marketing, etc… 

While this limited my ability to grow at first (as there's only so much one person can do), it gave me an understanding of how each key sub-system of the business worked which has helped me greatly in terms of being able to clearly communicate what I expect from my team members.

The entire first full-time year of being in business is when I was figuring out all of the foundational aspects of the company. From what verticals/niches we should work with, how to structure our offers, how to generate new business, what services we should offer etc…

It was very difficult & lonely at times as I was on the journey alone, lacked clarity on many key aspects of the business, and was struggling to consistently generate revenue.

I wouldn’t say the process was enjoyable or unenjoyable as a whole. There were good & bad moments throughout the process, but I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if I quit when it got difficult. 

What also helped was making an effort to NOT overestimate what I could do in 9-12 months while NOT underestimating what I could do in 9-12 years.

Our initial offers/packages were vastly-underpriced which also limited our growth potential/ceiling. 

Think about it like this, if you’d like to grow a consulting business to $15k per month in revenue, would you rather have:

  • Roughly 37-38 Clients @ $400/Per Month Each Client
  • Roughly 7-8 Clients @ $2,000/Per Month Each Client

Just the simple concept of raising our prices helped us attract higher-quality clients and generate more revenue.

Higher prices attracted higher-quality clients AND weeded out the cheaper/headache-filled clients.

Higher-quality clients don’t want to get the $0.99 lobster special. 

They’ll pay a premium for something/someone that delivers great results.

Ad

No Code MBA Logo

No Code MBA teaches you how to build powerful apps, websites, and automations using the most popular ‘no-code’ tools. Learn how to build real-world projects like Product Hunt, Tinder and Zillow. Get 50% off with code FAILORY.

Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

In the beginning, we relied on cold prospecting, word-of-mouth and content marketing.

Alex from DCA

Once I realized that this wasn’t going to consistently deliver enough sales opportunities for us to grow our revenue - I started running paid advertising on Facebook & Instagram.

That’s developed into our largest source of leads & sales.

It’s predictable, controllable, and scalable.

At the time of this writing ( February 2020 ) - we generate $7 in revenue for every $1 we spend on paid advertising.

We go into each quarter knowing that:

  1. If we spend around $10,000 in paid advertising dollars...
  2. We’re going to end up with roughly 310 or more completed sales/consultation calls...
  3.  20% or more of those calls will close for our consulting or training products/services ...
  4. We’ll end up with “X" in gross revenue ( variable depending on the types of clients we brought on that quarter/the services we sold )

We’ve been able to significantly lower our cost per lead & cost per appointment by implementing custom/lookalike audiences within Facebook Ads Manager. 

The “cold” interests that are offered to you inside of Ads Manager haven’t been very effective for us in any B2B campaign.

Retaining our current clients for the long-term is also a way for us to maximize our marketing ROI, gross revenue and referral generation.

What are your goals for the future?

We're seeing consistent growth in key areas such as.

  • Roughly $100k in new deals for Q1 of 2020.
  • Return on ad spend is at 7X.
  • New testimonials/case studies coming from clients multiple times per week.
ROI from ADs DCA

The macro/long-term vision for the firm is to work with Fortune 500 brands and grow to $2M/month in revenue.

I'll be laying the ground-work for that over the next 7-10 years by establishing our credibility/reputation, retaining clients for the long-term through amazing customer-service & generating undeniable results, growing my personal brand as the head of the company, building an infrastructure to handle clients at the large corporation-level, slowly but surely working with larger & larger clients and ultimately leveling-up as an entrepreneur & business-operator.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and obstacles you overcame?

The biggest challenge I faced as an entrepreneur wasn’t the marketplace, my clients, prospects or a difficult Facebook ads campaign.

It was my own mindset.

Developing the mental toughness/grit to handle the inevitable obstacles, challenges and difficulties of entrepreneurship.

Forcing myself to get rid of the “scarcity” mindset ( don’t take risks and seek safety ), and develop a “growth” mindset ( take calculated risks and get out of your comfort zone ).

Developing the confidence to not listen to naysayers & doubters ( especially people around me who told me to go get a safe job ).

Not quitting even when things weren’t going well.

Having the patience to think long-term and delaying gratification. 

Which are your greatest disadvantages? What were your worst mistakes?

I would say that one of our greatest disadvantages is the fact that our industry is getting over-saturated with low-quality consultants/service-providers. 

We have many of our prospective clients tell us that they’ve had very bad experiences with consultants, which makes them skeptical of working with another one. 

We counteract this by putting extra attention on building trust/credibility with our prospects as well as having a fantastic background of social proof.

DCA Social Proof

The mistake I made in the beginning of this business was not investing enough back INTO the business. That limited our growth greatly at first and it took me time to mature & understand the necessity of investing back into the company for long-term growth.

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

I would tell my former self to relax, stay patient, keep working hard and everything will work out. It’s so easy to seek instant gratification and to push for positive growth to happen very quickly. However that can lead to people taking shortcuts, which will lead to mistakes.

I wish I would’ve spent more time on sales/business development in the beginning instead of content/social media. 

A business doesn’t run off of likes & comments, it runs off of revenue & sales.

I’ve found that auditing what you’re doing every hour of every day is great to measure true productivity/output. 

You can work 10 hours, but in reality you might’ve only focused on high-priority tasks for 2 hours and the other 8 hours was low-priority tasks.

Focus your time in the morning on the high-priority tasks ( marketing, sales, client communication ), then spend time on other lower-priority tasks. 


What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

  • How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - This book is a classic and it taught me a ton about people. How to effectively interact with them, understand them and lead them.
  • Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday - This is a great read, especially for entrepreneurs. It helps you understand the downsides of having an enlarged ego. I read this book every quarter or so to help keep me on track and in the proper state of mind.
  • Toastmasters International - An extremely inexpensive, in-person class that helps people with their communication & public speaking skills. This greatly helped me level-up my communication abilities with clients & prospects and made me a more polished/sharp speaker overall.


Where can we go to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about our company, visit our main website by clicking here. Connect with me on Instagram or Linkedin.

The All-In-One Newsletter for Startup Founders

Every week, I’ll send you Failory’s latest interviews and articles, curated resources for founders, and updates on how I’m growing the site to $10k/mo. Join other +6,000 startup founders!