Hidden Door

Will Gray was working for an adventure company where he was in charge of team development before he took a sabbatical to tick a few things off the bucket list. Something that wasn’t on that list was starting his own business, but that’s what he ended up doing.

How did the idea for the business come about?
I saw a gap in the market to offer team-building activities that were truly unique and would be quite a contrast to the cliched offering in the market. Having spent part of my youth doing graffiti, I knew it was a powerful art form that would be ideal for team building as it allows teams to explore company values in a fun, creative format. It was the first experience we launched with and still one of the most popular programs we run.

When did you start it?
After a few too many bottles of red, we scribbled the basics of a business plan on a bunch of beer coasters in early 2008 and were up and running a few days later with not much more than a laptop and a pen.

What was the toughest challenge to overcome when starting out?
Starting a team-building business right in the middle of the global financial crisis was a huge challenge. Not only were we trying to forge our way into the market and find our feet as business owners, we were also trying to reassure business leaders that investing in your people is exactly what they should be doing in tough times. Thankfully most listened and remain great clients to this day.

What has been the most successful form of advertising for your business?
Referrals have by far been the most successful form. Because we create experiences that engage people there is an emotional component to the events we run that organically spreads to other business areas and offices. We’ve also invested heavily into our website to ensure that it looks and feels how we operate as a company and gives potential clients a sneak peek of the amazing experiences we offer.

How did you grow your Facebook following to 1,300 likes?
Our social media and newsletter strategy is to simply make the content entertaining. We feature recent event pictures and videos, new experiences, and third-party articles around improving company culture, leadership, and team communication. We also have a very quirky collection of staff that add their own cooking recipes, music, and movie reviews plus we always give away loads of experiences to people.

What do you think the Federal and State Governments could do to make things easier for small business owners?
I’ve often thought a government-run mentoring program would be a huge help to small business owners. I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors to assist me with key stages of my business growth but I know that most people have to battle through tough decisions alone. Recently we’ve been putting like-minded individuals together over breakfast to help each other with business issues and opportunities however this would be so much more powerful if the state government were behind it.

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