Transforming the revenue management landscape for independent hotels, Adrienne shares her visionary business solution.
Allow us to introduce Adrienne Hanna, the mastermind behind Right Revenue. Her journey as a founder has been shaped by more than two decades of personal experience in Revenue Management. Adrienne faced various challenges on her path to success but with determination and resilience, she overcame these difficulties to bring her brainchild, Right Revenue, to life.
Together with a team of passionate and deeply knowledgeable experts, Adrienne has navigated the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Their unwavering commitment to their craft has been instrumental in the development of an their revenue management software, specifically tailored for independent hotels.
Throughout her journey, Adrienne's dedication and experience have been the driving force behind Right Revenue's creation. Her story is a testament to the tenacity and passion required to thrive as a founder, inspiring others to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams despite the obstacles they may encounter.
Here's Adrienne's journey, in her own words.
Can you tell us about your journey as a founder? What inspired you to start your own business?
Most founders start a business to make money – they have an idea and then try to commercialise it. My journey as a founder however started almost by accident… I found a problem in an industry that I was passionate about (and had worked in for over 20 years) and I wanted to solve it.
What challenges did you face in the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey? How did you overcome them?
I was attempting to start a tech business in my late 40’s after a long career in hospitality, so my first challenge was understanding the tech landscape. That was a long journey for me as most developers are the polar opposite from a ‘jazz hands hotelier!’ My second was funding. I had no idea how much having a system built would cost and how my life would be fundamentally altered because of the journey I was on.
How did you identify the target market for your product/service? What made you confident that it would resonate with customers?
I was incredibly lucky to have had a long career in the industry which I was building my product for. We also chose our 'beachhead' client to be a sector of the industry I knew well - that being 'independent and non-branded hotels'. We designed our solution around what we called 'an also Revenue Manager' meaning that our solution was predominantly aimed at hotels who had teams who needed to multitask. This was a sector that we knew well and that we were confident had a need for our solution.
What were some of the major obstacles you encountered while building your business? How did you navigate through those hurdles?
There were many obstacles and those often don't go away with time - they just change shape... If you feel that you are starting a business which will have an end in a year's time, you will be very disillusioned. Everything changes... customer needs, economic climate, team, investor pressure... all of these change - sometimes daily and my advice... be ready to have to put your 'big girl' pants on every single day!
Could you share a specific moment of doubt or failure you experienced along the way? How did you bounce back from it?
There have honestly been too many to mention... but I guess when we worked out that Covid was here to stay and that our industry would be all but decimated - that was definitely a tough moment. But we took the risk - kept developing - hired amazing people and looked to the longterm and not the short-term. That future-proofed our business and made sure that we came out of the pandemic stronger and more agile. Plus we learned a huge amount which we keep applying to our business today.
How did you approach scaling and expanding your business? What strategies did you employ to ensure sustainable growth?
The path to scaling and expansion is not always easy and it can be easy to be caught up in the trap of being 'all things to all people' as you are so desperate for growth in the early days. We did what most early stage companies do and that is we cut our teeth in our own backyard. We made mistakes with friendly customers and learned from that. It took us a little while to figure out our perfect customer but now that we have, we don't stray too far from that persona...
Did you face any scepticism or resistance from others when pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams? How did you handle it?
Let me describe what it is like to have your own business... imagine you see someone ride down your Main Street on the back of a lion... everyone watching is thinking: 'look at them'... 'Aren't they brave'.... 'I wish I could do that'... while you, on the back of the lion, are thinking, 'how on earth did I get on here and how on earth do I get off!!!'.
That is the truth that few people tell you. They don't tell you how to face not being able to pay your mortgage, or your team. They don't tell you that you give up part of your life to put into this business. And the most important thing they don't tell you is that very few people understand what you are going through. It is not always the resistance of others that you need to be aware of, it is the challenge you have to face internally and daily...
Can you describe a key decision you made that significantly impacted the trajectory of your business? What were the factors you considered?
There have been several... and I won't use the word 'pivot' which is one of the most over-used words in start-up world (there is no such thing as pivoting your business... it is an awkward shuffle from one potential idea to another!) But I guess on a personal level (and working in the hospitality industry), it was the decision at the start of Covid to go to all of our customers and offer our service for free for 3 months.
This was something that our board was wary of at the time but I am glad I fought for that as coming out of Covid we did not lose one customer. Also fighting to bring back our Dev Team during covid was key as I was not prepared to furlough people and 'sandbank' the business. We needed to come out of the pandemic stronger and we definitely did.
What advice would you give to aspiring founders who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey?
There are a few pieces of advice I would give that now seem so obvious but honestly I didn't consider at the time:
1) focus on keeping money in the bank - you have nothing unless you have cash. Cash really is king.
2) Getting to profitability should be your number one focus. Not investment. Not world domination… profitability, it's that simple.
3) Keep your customers happy and actually make sure they feel, and you treat them, as partners on this journey for they are what sustains you.
4) Ensure you have amazing people around you - only ever employ people who are cleverer than you and that fit into your company ethos and vision.
5) If those people don't and if they aren't performing cut them sooner rather than later - do not delay the inevitable.
6) Be careful who you take advice from. There will be plenty who want to give it but trust yourself much earlier - no-one knows your vision like you.
7) If looking for investment for goodness sake take advice from someone you trust as the investment terms you agree to at the start of your journey will absolutely shape the rest of your journey.
8) Your legal team and your accountant should be closer to you than your partner and they are worth their weight in gold! (thank you Katey and Peter!!!)
9) Read a book called Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet - I wish I had done that much earlier.
10) Realise that tough days will pass... have mentors that you trust and other entrepreneurs who will hold you up during the tough days - there will be many... But the good moments are always worth celebrating and please take time to celebrate even the small moments. Remember that you are on a journey that few people are ever brave enough to take. You are doing something amazing - take time every now and again to anchor yourself to that thought...
What role has mentorship played in your entrepreneurial success? Were there any specific mentors who made a significant impact on your journey?
I have been lucky to have had a few... and like that old saying about relationships (they are here for a reason, a season or a lifetime...) you will have mentors that come and go throughout different parts of your journey. The ones who have stuck with me have seen me cry, celebrated my success and in my darkest moments, they have reminded me what I have inside... determination, grit and resilience... That gives me the strength to dig deep and keep going.
But great mentors also help you work out the 'spaghetti' that is often in your head. They can see the woods for the trees and often can help you navigate through tough decisions. Trust should be hard to win but when you have that trust with mentors, hold it tight as they will support you when you need it most and often 'put you back in your box' when you need it too (thank you Gillian, Heather, Gary, Ian and Michael). I don’t know where I would be without you.
You can find out more about Right Revenue at rightrevenue.co.uk