Adam Hempenstall, of Better Proposals: “Value First”

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Adam Hempenstall Better Proposals

Founder and CEO of Better Proposals Adam Hempenstall leads a company that offers “simple proposal software for creating beautiful, high-impact proposals in minutes.”

Aside from Better Proposals, Adam Hempenstall also leads Proposal Writing University, “where he shares business proposal best practices.” This came about after he helped customers “win $120,000,000+ in one year.”

When he became an entrepreneur, Adam Hempenstall knew he had to be gritty and resilient. Thanks to this grit and resilience, Better Proposals has put itself in a position to help out customers whether in good times or bad.

Adam Hempenstall wanted to run his company by giving location independence to his employees, so they had been working remotely since they started. Except for their customer service team, the company also don’t follow work hours.

Likewise, Adam Hempenstall takes pride in having “one of the best customers support teams in the SaaS business.” His team responds to customers under 15 minutes on average. They also don’t use chatbots or AI.

Better Proposals could not have reached its success without Adam Hempenstall’s hard work and effort. Every year he goes to Split, Croatia for a month to focus his efforts on something.

This method helped Adam Hempenstall write books, develop a new feature, or create a new marketing piece.

Check out more interviews with industry leaders here.

We believe in delivering value first. Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals

Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Adam Hempenstall: There are a few things. We’ve been working remotely before it became cool because that’s the way I wanted to run a company — have everyone be location independent.

We also have no working hours, except for our customer support team. For everyone else, they can work whenever they want to, as long as they get work done.

Sometimes people work at 10 PM, sometimes it’s 7 AM, but we get things done.

Also, we have an excellent product-market fit because the founding team worked in sales for years before launching Better Proposals.

We created a product to scratch our own itch and we know exactly what sales professionals need to make their lives easier. This approach makes it much easier to develop, market and sell a product.

Finally, we have one of the best customer support teams in the SaaS business and our average response time is under 15 minutes, without using any chatbots or other AI cheats.

Not only do we solve customer support problems but we also give our customers tips on how to sell more, how to price their packages, how to increase their conversion rates from existing proposals and more.

We believe in delivering value first.

Jerome Knyszewski: Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Adam Hempenstall: It’s difficult to answer because I believe that everything that happened early on led me to this moment now where I have what I have worked for.

If I look back and remove things or go down different paths, do I still end up here?

That said, college was a complete waste of time for me. I went for 3 years straight, bailed on the first year because it was so stupidly easy.

Bailed on the second year for the same reason. Tried a different college with a different course and only actually passed because my Dad drove me there every day because the train was too much effort.

I can’t think of any benefit in me going, I learned next to nothing and the things I did learn have been no help in business at all.

Hard work is essential. If you want to build anything of value, it’s not something you can skip.

Jerome Knyszewski: You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Adam Hempenstall: Hard work is essential. If you want to build anything of value, it’s not something you can skip.

Every year I take a month out and go to Split, Croatia and work solidly on something — be it writing a few books in that time, a new feature, a big marketing piece — changing the scenery and really smashing out something is so much fun.

Speed of implementation — You have to be someone to put things to work quickly. When we launched Better Proposals and realised it was clearly working we knew we’d run into issues unless we made it a standalone product so within 24 hours of making this decision, back on the plane to Croatia and spent 2 months rebuilding the product from the ground up.

That same product is what we use today. I can say for sure if we hadn’t done that when we did, we’d have run into serious problems along the way.

Saying no and keeping focus — The number of times I’ve been offered equity in startups in exchange for being an advisor or to start another company or another product, Better CRM or Better Project Management etc.

Saying yes to any of those things would have killed our growth and focus. Keeping things simple, focused and saying no to things that aren’t directly your core business is vital if you want to build anything sustainable.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Adam Hempenstall: Learn how your brain and body works. I mean yours, not generally. I know I work better in projects, short 1–2 month bursts then taking a bit of a break.

I don’t feel burnout because I make sure there’s a break between massive projects. That said, my contribution to those projects is to throw 110% of myself into them. Once a year for instance I write a book.

That usually takes 2 months but the first 4–5 weeks of that are savage. It’s just constant coffee, sleep deprivation and hammering away but it’s for a sustained period of time so it’s manageable.

Learn how your body works so you can support it by working when it wants to work and not when it doesn’t. Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you need to work certain hours or not at other times.

I routinely get up at 3am or 4am, get my work done and chill for the day. Everyone’s different.

In short, build a business without socials. They aren’t essential and are more of a distraction than any sort of promotional tool.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Adam Hempenstall: Thinking Facebook and Instagram matter. Vanity metrics, virality on socials and looking good to other people are not essential to any sort of success.

In fact, they will distract you and give you the feeling of success without ever having achieved it. Like these kids that rent mansions and a Lambo for the weekend between 80 of them and take turns pretending it’s theirs getting these shots of them all living this life as if they actually have it.

The danger is it’s giving them the dopamine hit that achieving it would give them but they haven’t actually achieved it.

Doing that is like lucid dreaming and pretending you’ve made it in the real world when in reality you can just dream about it on command.

In short, build a business without socials. They aren’t essential and are more of a distraction than any sort of promotional tool.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Adam Hempenstall: Realising that you don’t just build it once. Building Better Proposals into a 1M a year business is one kind of business with one kind of customer. Building it into a 5M a year business is different.

You essentially start again, but you’re living in a nice place and not running around trying to top up your electricity meter. The hiring is different, the selling is different, the legal stuff matters more.

It’s all very different and you have no training for it, you suddenly go from feeling like the absolute man to feeling like your first day at school.

That’s when you get to work, you learn again and you become that person needed to take everyone to that next level. Having to do that again and again is hard work.

Learn how your brain and body works. I mean yours, not generally. Adam Hempenstall

Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Adam Hempenstall: Maybe it’s unrealistic but I would try to get people to stop using Facebook.

It’s started to look like a new form of traditional media — bad or divisive news get the most attention which is why they’re posted a lot more than positive things.

Naturally, the algorithm will boost posts that have more engagement which results in the fact that divisive, polarising content spreads a lot more than any good news.

This damages people and makes them feel bad and frustrated.

There are benefits to social media, however, I think that for most people it’s become a huge waste of time.

I find myself scrolling when I could be working or spending time with the people I love — just enjoying life. Just for a while, I’d want to see a world without negative news.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Adam Hempenstall:

Website

LinkedIn

Twitter

Facebook

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

 

 

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