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Fear.

As I sat down to reflect on my decision to move on from With Content, I was surprised that the first emotion to hit me was a sense of fear.

Fear that others would think that I had failed, and was making a quick exit.

Fear that everything would fall apart, as if I was the one holding everything together.

Fear that I would lose my “identity” as a founder, self-starter, and visionary.

I almost didn’t write this blog post, debating internally whether I should quietly move on instead.

Digging deeper into each fear, however, I realized that they were all unfounded.

2021 was our best year yet, as we almost doubled our revenue and won the trust of several market leaders as clients.

Operationally, our team was confidently and competently handling client accounts, with little input from me.

And after a brief struggle with depression, I had come to realize how much of my identity rested in being known as a “successful” founder, and how toxic it was for me to need to constantly keep up that appearance.

So here I am, announcing that I will be moving on from the very company I founded four years ago.

So, why did you decide to move on from With Content?

Here’s why.

1. I thrive on “starter” challenges

After my sabbatical in late-2020, I returned to work expecting to feel refreshed and motivated to jump back into the fray.

Instead, I found myself rapidly burning out after just one month.

The time spent away from With Content had opened my eyes to how much it had grown and changed over the years. It wasn’t a tiny, scrappy operation anymore. We had hit the growth stage, and I hadn’t even realized it till then.

When I first started the company in 2017, I was driven by a vision to build what could be: an agency that would elevate the level of content marketing in Southeast Asia.

While the mission was far from completed, we had come a long way since, serving and developing close partnerships with over 170+ clients, including household names in the finance, HR, telecommunications, e-commerce, and the education industries. We also ended 2021 approaching S$1.5 million in all-time revenue.

I should have been riding on cloud nine, but instead, I was unhappy and restless. 

Crazy, right? Which is exactly what many people told me. I should count my blessings, they said, and focus on growing the business more. And more. And more.

But no matter how much I tried to convince myself, I just couldn’t get there. I had never imagined that With Content would grow to this level, and I realized that was because I intuitively knew that I would quickly grow weary after achieving “success”. 

I’ve always been a person who delights in trying new and meaningful things, and that was the gaping hole in my life at that point.

2. I was the bottleneck

Despite this, I still continued to push on through 2021. 

But the huge surge in demand for our services was beginning to put pressure on our systems, and cracks were forming.

A much-needed overhaul of our processes was needed, but I was flat out of energy and creative juice. Instead, all I was capable of doing was the equivalent of slapping duct tape onto the leaking tank:

bottleneck with content

I was addressing issues reactively, which gave temporary reprieve but guaranteed that they would re-emerge sometime in the near future.

Through several discussions with fellow founders, I realized that this was a common problem: the people who start businesses are often not the right people to grow them.

I was the bottleneck, and what With Content needed was a leader who could take it to the next level of growth.

3. I knew exactly who With Content’s next leader should be

It was around this time that I found out my good friend and former colleague/client, Pearl Lee, was leaving her job at a well-known venture capital firm.

I’ve always known Pearl to be a talented content creator, dependable worker, and deep thinker with solid values. Her rich experience with marketing and content at Tech in Asia, Singapore Economic Development Board, and Wavemaker Partners is proof of that.

So when I received her message expressing interest in “exploring how we could work together,” I knew this was a God-given opportunity I couldn’t miss – the timing could not have been better!

A cup of coffee later, Pearl agreed to take on the responsibility of leading With Content into uncharted territory.

With Content deserves strong, committed leadership, and I have no doubt at all that Pearl and the current team fit the bill perfectly.

What’s next for me

I will be transitioning into my role as an advisor to the new leadership team, especially regarding key decisions and challenges ahead.

I will also be taking up a new role leading content marketing at a mental health startup, Intellect. My struggle with depression through 2021 had opened my eyes to the emotional needs of this generation, and I’m excited to be able to play a part in making mental health care more accessible in Asia going forward.

Make no mistake: I continue to be a strong advocate for content marketing. I’m fully convinced that the future of marketing is content, and that With Content will be right at the center of the action.

A heart filled with gratitude

It hasn’t been an easy journey, and the only reason the company and I are where we are today is because of the amazing people who have supported us along the way. 

A massive, heartfelt thank you to clients, partners, and friends who have put your trust in us time and again!

Rest assured that we’ll continue to do our darndest to serve each and every one of you well in 2022 (and beyond).

Btw, if you want to join the best content marketing agency in Singapore (and some say Southeast Asia), we’re hiring a content strategist!

Let’s talk about your winning content marketing strategy.

Daniel Tay

Co-founder & managing director at With Content, a content marketing agency that helps B2B tech companies attract, engage, and convert potential customers sustainably.