From previously working at a large marketing firm in Toronto and then a small firm in Sarnia, Darren Hakker became inspired to combine the best of both worlds and start his own business, Graphite Marketing. This firm specializes in, but is not limited to, consulting, creative strategy, copywriting, project management, and event management. Upon request, he is willing and able to do many other tasks, which for him is one of the perks that come with the job. “I am doing something different everyday,” said Hakker.
Graphite Marketing has grown in terms of the relationships Hakker has built with his clients and suppliers. What he likes about being the only one at Graphite Marketing is that every client knows him personally. “I want them to build a relationship with Darren, not just a relationship with Graphite Marketing.” If there is a task that Hakker cannot complete up-to-par, he will seek assistance from his extensive network. “I know that I am not good with web design, so rather than doing a poor job myself, I would ask a fantastic web designer, who I’m good friends with, to do it.” Whether he completes a task on his own or outsources it to one of his suppliers, Hakker ensures that his clients will receive the best possible result.
One of the big factors that differentiate Graphite Marketing from other marketing firms is its flexibility. Larger firms have many projects for many clients, making them unable to start focusing on a client’s request until a few weeks later. Hakker, on the other hand, can complete a client’s project right away. “I stay open and honest with clients. When I say it will be done, it will be done.”
Hakker sees the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation (SLBDC) as an important organization for local businesses. “I can’t say enough good things –we get along so well because we have the same outlook. They are flexible, they focus on building relationships, and they focus on building excellence.” He encourages new entrepreneurs to go through the SLBDC.
For Hakker, one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility. “I love being able to manage my own time. I may have a week where if I work hard for four days, I can take Friday afternoon off. Or if I am emailing back and forth with a client and I have some time in my day, we can decide on-the-spot to get coffee and chat in person.”
From one entrepreneur to another, Hakker has two pieces of advice. The first is to not burn your bridges. He adds, “Every business industry is small, especially in Sarnia. Everyone knows everyone.” The second piece of advice is what entrepreneurs should be ready to do every morning: “Make awesome happen.”