Henny (Henok) Yeshanew, 24, is the founder of Lion Marketing Agency, a full-service marketing firm dedicated to helping medium to large businesses achieve success and growth. His company has been awarded Top Marketing Agency in Ontario in 2018 & 2019 by Canada Business Awards. Henny has also received a Top 40 Under 40 Award for his success with the marketing agency and his community work with youth development. Henny also provides keynotes and events speaking in topics such as marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, and technology. He has accomplished so much at such a young age, we had to interview him to learn the steps he took to become this aspiring leader.
How did you become an entrepreneur? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Becoming an entrepreneur was never in my sights at the beginning. Growing up in a traditional immigrant family, I didn’t even have that option. Lawyer, doctor, or an engineer were on the table. I enjoyed connecting with people and having deep conversations and debating, so I decided to pursue a career in law. Three years into university, I started to realize that this route is not the best option for me. I definitely did not want to do another 4 years of schooling to work another 10 years to pay off massive debt and still not be happy with my career choice. After taking my LSATs and applying to law school, I decided to see if there are different routes I can try. During that summer, I researched day and night and I found digital marketing and how it was on an upward trend for many businesses. I started to learn using YouTube and Google how to become a marketer. A few months into my fourth year, I started to use the skills I learned on a few clients and within a short while, those clients began to see massive growth in revenue. That was the moment I knew that I had to pursue this and that’s when I become a full-time entrepreneur. However, the next year and a half were the hardest challenges to go through.
You mentioned that in the first months as an entrepreneur were very difficult. How did you overcome that and what advice would you give others in your situation?
Yes, it was really hard. I think the most difficult aspect was that you were in ‘control’. There was no one telling you to do this or do that, no boss to scream at you or dictate your responsibilities. That was a very scary situation for me as my whole life, I was told to do everything a certain way, and the first three months, I was completely lost without any directions. I knew that I needed to reach out to other people in my industry that are five years ahead of where I am and ask for guidance and mentorship. I started to take their advice on steps to help me grow the agency, steps to take care of my mental health and avoid mistakes they made in their journey. My advice for other also in the same situation is to always seek advice. In this digital age, it is as easy as sending a quick direct message/email or LinkedIn InMail.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
To be honest, this answer will change every day for me. However, the overarching pillars are to be happy and proud of what I do day in and day out, of course, be financially stable and have a family that is proud of what I do. I am never satisfied with what I can accomplish because I know I can do so much more. There are so many things I want to learn and experience and I truly believe the route I have taken will allow me to stay motivated and driven to it.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur.
Uncertainty. My road is still unwritten and always in a state of flux. I have come to love this position in my journey because I have learned so much from it. I now know that uncertainty is a good thing, especially as an entrepreneur.
What are your future plans as an entrepreneur?
I definitely intend to stay in the marketing agency for a few more exits but will look for an exit strategy there. I haven’t decided yet on what that would look like in terms of selling the businesses or taking a less-intensive position but it will happen. I have always wanted to work closely with unprivileged youth with amazing ideas so definitely launch an investment firm dedicated to helping them with capital and guidance. My 15 year plus goals are to take my knowledge and resources back home to Africa. I have always dreamt of seeing Africa as a superior continent with amazing health care and I want to make that dream come true. I want to create large health care facilities with advanced equipment and place one in each hemisphere of Africa. I want it to be accessible to all Africans regardless of what nation you belong in. I understand this dream may sound impossible but I will work extra hard to make it happen or set the groundwork for future generations to finish it for me.
As the interview went on, you can see Henny is an ambitious entrepreneur who will one day change the world. He may not be satisfied with that but many people will be forever grateful. We wish Henny all the luck in the world for making his dream and passion come true.