This is why I'm putting more focus on coaching and consulting small businesses.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Almost everyone in my immediate and extended family has built a company from scratch or purchased and sold companies. Some have lost millions, some have made millions, and some were perfectly content just making a living. It's in our blood to be builders and to grow something we can be proud of. In the initial years of launching my business, I was constantly approached by startups, entrepreneurs, and non-profits looking to build their own brand and marketing platforms. Deep in my soul, I knew they couldn't afford us. But, I wanted to help! So, I went through the proposal process with them only to present them with something that made their eyes glaze over. I would say, "Sorry, I wish there was something I could do. Maybe after you grow a bit more?" It felt wrong, but I proceeded down the path we were on because that's all I knew.
A few summers ago I was taking my kids to camp at a little preschool/after school facility that was run by an amazing woman! She loved those kids and worked countless hours providing cool and educational programs. One day I asked her how it was going. She said, "Great! We're purchasing more of the building and adding more classes!" I was excited for her and asked her what she was doing to manage her growth. She still had people filling out paper forms and managing all of that was becoming more and more daunting. She also mentioned that someone was redoing their website and that he'd have it done the following week. I learned that he hadn't asked her anything about her business, she had seen no designs, and that she was totally uninformed about the process. Needless to say, I was floored. She was paying for an inferior product from an individual that didn't care enough about her or her business to give her what she really needed. Maybe not intentionally, maybe so. All I know is that this woman was good at what she did, and she deserved better. Every cent counts, and she was burning it on a website that was less than what she (and her business) deserved.
This was a wake-up call for me. I had to do something to help people like her! She didn't go to school for marketing, nor did she love it. It was necessary to grow, but she didn't know what she didn't know. I've come to realize that a lot of small businesses owners struggle with marketing because:
- they aren't marketers
- they think they can't afford "strategy"
- they think they can't afford an "agency", and/or,
- they think all they need is a logo and a website and people will purchase what they have.
They don't have any money.
A lot of creative agencies (like mine) are small businesses too. I feel like we do our industry a disservice when we don't help serve the people that we all claim are the lifeblood of America. We say we love the little guy, and we're fighters for the underdog. But, when it comes down to finally doing work that is both quality and affordable, we say "Noooo way! Those little people have noooooo money!" It seems hypocritical to me. Why can't we do something more?! Why has no one else figured out how to build something to help small businesses owners build their dreams? Some bigger agencies will take on a yearly "feel good project" helping a small business or non-profit. I don't want to criticize their generosity. Their doing a good thing for people that I'm sure are very grateful for the help. But, that's 1 project. There are 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S.! Businesses with less than 100 employees supplied about 1.1 million jobs! The point is, there are a lot of businesses that need more than 1 gracious agency to take on 1 project a year. These small businesses are what makes America tick! And yet, we (agencies) do nothing to help them because "they don't have any money". I hate that.
My heart and soul has turned to the problem of helping small businesses by providing them with high quality, effective, and meaningful brand and marketing strategies that represent who they are and something they can be proud of. I haven't figured out the perfect formula yet, but I’m getting there! I understand money and time are a valuable resource and small businesses don't have a lot of either one. I understand what it's like to worry about every penny that goes out the door because I have rent, employees, taxes, and other expenses to worry about. I understand what it's like to have a few months of operating revenue in the bank account. I get it. I have to feed my family too. That's why I want this to work! I want small business owners to feel empowered and know they deserve good great design! They deserve a strategy! They deserve peace of mind when it comes to marketing their businesses. It hurts my heart when I see a business "settle" because they don't know better, they received bad advice, or they don't think they can have what the "big" companies have.
Let's do this.
Networking with other small businesses has only reinforced the idea that there is a need. There's a gap I can fill. I've been so blessed in my life to be surrounded by amazing people that have helped me move forward in spite of fears and have shown me what's possible. How can I make an impact? By taking everything I've learned, my gifts and talents, and bringing more confidence, independence, and fulfillment to the lives of people taking huge risks and building their dreams.
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