This month, we’re introducing some of America’s most inspiring entrepreneurs by interviewing all 18 finalists for this year’s Dream Big Small Business Awards. The awards program honors the achievements of some of our nation’s most remarkable small business owners and celebrates their contributions to the American economy. We’ll be spotlighting a different finalist every day between now and the Small Business Summit 2017, where the winners will be announced (register to attend here).
The company: DHD Films
Who’s in charge: Manjee Hussain
Where are they: Dallas, Texas
What they do: Create full-service videos and motion graphics
Q: How did your company get started?
Manjee Hussain: Shezad Manjee and I are third generation filmmakers following in the footsteps of our late grandfather, who was an innovator in film production in the early 1960s. As brothers we co-founded DHD Films as a way to provide unparalleled, innovative video production services to mid-market and multi-national corporations in various industry verticals. DHD produces marketing, promotional and recruitment solutions for businesses looking to stand out among their competitors.
Q: What barriers have you faced while building your company and how did you overcome them?
Hussain: A challenge that our business faces is engaging our team members. To be clear, we are fortunate to have some of the most brilliant, creative minds working within our team. However, we have learned that when our team’s talents align with their passion, then they will break through any barriers.
One way we do this is through the philosophy of entrepreneurship, building small business units within the company and empowering team members to take ownership of those units.
For example, a team member had a video campaign idea for our company. He pitched his project to the entire team, and now he is in charge of leading that initiative and bringing it to life. That is just one example, but each team member has the ability to take ownership over a project or facet of the business and be an entrepreneur.
We have learned that when team members take on projects that challenge and excite them, the intrinsic motivation is more powerful than any monetary incentive.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Hussain: When I was 13-years-old, I visited the White House as a tourist, and the experience had a profound impact on my life. So much so, that I set a goal to be invited back before my 30thbirthday. Ironically enough, two days before my 30th birthday, I found myself sitting in the White House alongside various business leaders from around the country discussing the President’s economic priorities as part of the White House Business Council. This visit was a dream realized, but it was much bigger than that. It was my opportunity to hear first-hand what the current Administration has on tap to help the country bolster business. This was an incredibly proud moment for me in my professional journey.
Q: Tell us about your company’s role in the community. How do you use serve your hometown?
Hussain: We are firm believers in giving back to the community that has given him so much. Our goal was to create a value-driven organization that counts service among its mission. DHD Films is an active member of the Entrepreneurs for North Texas and a partner of Communities Foundation of Texas, where they sponsor and participate in many community service events with their employees, clients, and fans.
DHD has played an active sponsorship role in PartnershipsInAction as well as other charitable organizations, often producing non-profit videos pro-bono. Through this service, the studio is able to lend its services while giving a voice to the voiceless. In addition, each team member of the DHD team receives paid time off to volunteer with an organization of his or her choice.
What’s more, we will match any charitable donations made by team members up to a specific amount. So far, team members have volunteered their time reading to students in Dallas Independent School District, renovating a local middle school, teaching dance to terminally or chronically ill children, mentoring young students, plus much more.
DHD has given me personally the opportunity to make an impact in the community. He was recently appointed as the Chairmain for the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A., Central Region, and he continues to serve out his term as a Board member for both EO and the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Q: What does it mean to not only have created your own job, but to also create jobs for others?
Hussain: Creating our own jobs has been the epitome of living the American dream. In order to provide us with the best education and ultimate opportunities, our parents sacrificed their well-being when they migrated our family to the U.S. over 25 years ago.
Starting this business and being our own boss has been the pinnacle of that sacrifice and is what our parents are most proud of today, especially because we continue our family’s legacy through our work. It is a great responsibility to not only create but also sustain jobs for others. Our studio team is an extension of our family, and we strive to give them the best opportunities and benefits including fully funded health coverage.
Q: What would you do if you won the Dream Big Award’s $25,000 grand prize?
Hussain: Continuing education and professional development is paramount to any organization’s success. If we have the great fortune to win the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award, we would start a scholarship fund for our team members and their families, allowing them to continue their education further. When we invest in education, the returns are compounded generation after generation.
Q: What’s your best advice for other small business owners who want to Dream Big?
Hussain: DHD’s core values continuously guide our growth and innovation and can easily be adapted to any other organization to ensure success. The first core value is to be results focused, which includes thinking big, exceeding expectations, taking on challenges, and developing innovative solutions for our clients. Second, our company is socially and ethically responsible. We are honest and do what’s right. In addition, we are stewards of our community and strive to give back as much as possible. The third core value is constant improvement. We work hard to be the best, embrace change, and exhibit passion in our work. Finally, we are people centered, meaning we help each other succeed, celebrate diversity, and create a fun working environment.
And lastly, when you become successful, remember to pay it forward.