May 23, 2019

4 Lessons I've Learned As An Entrepreneur That Help Me As A Marketer

By: Josh Dougherty

Inbound Marketing

Every quarter, our team takes a morning to spend time talking about the past, present, and future of A Brave New. It's a way for us to unplug and think about the company we're building together.

When I was preparing for last week's meeting I was feeling a bit reflective. We're nearly five years old. Over the last few years, we've grown a lot. Especially this year, we've been able to bring on new team members that have significantly increased our ability to deliver for clients.

And yet, I still remember the first year...and all its $8,000 of revenue. Seems like yesterday.

As I sat at my desk that Monday evening and thought back on things, I realized there's four key lessons I've learned.

1) Make ThE Decision You've Been Putting Off...Faster

You know the decision I'm talking about, right? It's the one that you've been putting off. You know it's holding back your growth, but you don't want to act because it's difficult.

Make the decision. Take a decisive step forward.

As I've mulled over and made decisions about personnel, investments, or even simple things like picking up the phone to call a new business prospect, there has been one single constant. I took too long to act.

Delayed decision making has consequences. Maybe it didn't do any overt harm fo me, but usually the decision led to some dramatic growth. If I had made it sooner, that growth would have come sooner.

Take the time you need to gather the required information, then act. Don't delay.

Marketing Application: It's often difficult to cut your losses and move in a different direction if something isn't working. We delay making that important decision despite the fact that the data is telling a clear story. Act quickly and decisively. The quicker you reallocate your efforts the better.

2) There Are No Training Wheels

One of the biggest challenges as an entrepreneur is that there are no training wheels. If Polly and I don't bring in enough new business, or our team doesn't drive fantastic results for a client, we're going to fail.

Failing as a small business owner hurts. There are degrees of pain; from foregoing bonuses, to losing a client and having to shrink your team, to going out of business. But the point still remains:

The training wheels won't save you, you're on your own.

Having no training wheels means that you need to work harder, push harder, be hungrier. You need to go the extra mile for your clients and make sure each and every experience is amazing. And you need a team that is equally dedicated and committed to this concept as you are...because you can't do it all alone.

I relish having no training wheels. It's also why I sometimes find myself up crunching on a project at 1 in the morning. Funny dance this, entrepreneurship.

Marketing Application: Marketing usually receives less budget, and less respect than sales. It's incumbent on you to realize that you have no training wheels. This is make or break time. Either your strategy hits or your budget goes. Put the time in to ensure it will succeed.

3) Two Minutes Today Will Save You Hours Down The Road

"I'm too busy to ________."

I find myself starting to say this five or six times a day when I run into something that's broken in our system.

If I had a penny for how many times I didn't stop and fix the systemic issue only for it to cause hours of work for me down the road, I would have a lot of pennies. Well, at least about 227.

When I find myself whispering these cursed words I'm trying to learn to stop. Maybe it's just taking the time to Slack our project manager about fixing a task template in our project manager software. Maybe it's something more complex. Either way, by stopping and making the fix, we save countless time down the road not having to unwind something that's broken.

It's tempting to move right by the problem. But later on you'll kick yourself. I know I do.

Marketing Application: The same is true for marketing. It's important to dive in and fix things when you notice they're broken. By making systematic changes to improve your marketing now, you'll save yourself tons of time down the road.

4) Toothpaste Brands Are Important

During our quarterly meeting, our project manager, Ashley, reminded me of the importance of not just focusing on business by saying was more interested in learning what kind of toothpaste people used than what should be achieved over the next quarter.

What ensued was the best conversation we had had the entire morning. Everyone on the team was excited and engaged.

Left up to me, the meeting would have been all business (and boring). That boredom would have meant that no one was paying attention when they actually needed to be. I also wouldn't have known that I'm part of the slim majority in our company that uses Tom's of Maine to clean our teeth twice a day.

Marketing Application: It's tempting to only create content and communications that are focused on driving dollars. As inbound marketers (ok, and also as people), we know that this just isn't how things work. We need to build awareness with people by engaging with them about topics they care about and then help them consider their decision before we can ask them to make a purchase. There's no way around it. That's how the world works in 2019.


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