As we speed forward into 2017, it’s hard to believe that we are celebrating our 10th year as an agency. There have been highs and lows to be sure -- even days when pulling the sheet over my head and going back to sleep seemed like the best idea. But the sense of accomplishment that comes with building my own company has kept me energized, excited to keep learning and in a perpetual state of motion.
Over the past 10 years I’ve worked hard to become a better mentor, businesswoman and servant leader to our client base and to the community. The lessons have been hard fought and many, so I’m sharing a few of the more significant ones here.
Stand for something or you don’t stand for anything.
At Fletcher we specialize in marketing to women. This is not to the exclusion of men, but rather a carefully crafted niche strategy that aligns with the facts: women are super-consumers and influence many more purchasing decisions than men. We are not generalists. Everything we do is peppered with insights into how female consumers think, respond and make decisions. Even when a client doesn’t hire us for this expertise, it often seeps into the strategy, making it better and more relevant.
The customer is not always right.
Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right. I’ve found that the smartest people prefer to be gently reminded when they’re wrong and provided with an alternative solution. Sometimes we must push back which usually leads to a deepening of trust and mutual respect.
Build the relationship, and they will come.
I used to be a pushy salesperson. I knew what I wanted when I walked in the door, and my entire agenda was focused on it. It took years for my approach to winning new business to mature. Now I focus on building relationships. Business nearly always stems from sincerely caring about people and their needs.
A little humility goes a long way.
There is amazing power in these two simple words: I’m sorry. Mistakes are made. Results vary. Misunderstandings happen. But in the super-charged craziness that comes with running a business a little humility goes a long way.
Every serious business owner needs a coach.
Even Bill Gates has a business coach. I have two. Leslie Beale is my success coach and helps me train my brain to exist in a state of successful mindfulness, and Kevin Kragenbrink is my business coach. Like many entrepreneurs I started a business to do what I do best – marketing and public relations. I knew very little about running a company and rely on coaches for knowledge, advice and accountability.
Never stop learning.
The business of marketing, public relations and social media is ever evolving. It’s mission critical to keep up with new technologies, best practices and industry news. A few years ago, I started spending 30 minutes each morning consuming as much industry information as possible. I also read one new business book each month to help quench my thirst for knowledge.
Corporate values should represent more than a sign on the wall.
Lately we’ve spent a lot of time talking about values here at Fletcher. Ours are transparency, respect, accountability, service and quality. We’ve collectively agreed to measure these values, and we strive to live by them. We celebrate culture wins publicly and address culture failures privately. I find this incredibly important for small businesses where an undefined culture can erode the very heart of the business.
As part of our 10th anniversary we’ll be rolling out new initiatives, finding more ways to give back to the community and celebrating even the smallest successes along the way.