September 2017 is Machete Marketing’s one year anniversary, and I thought it would be fitting to reflect on what my experience has been the past twelve months. I hope that the following will inspire others to take the leap into entrepreneurship, and provide guidance as they think about their own business strategy.
The most common question I get is: “What do you attribute the success of your company to?”
For one, Machete Marketing is still a work in progress; I don’t feel like I’ve “made it” yet, and there’s still a long way to go. However, I own my company 100%, and have gotten where I am without debt, borrowing from family members, or taking on investors. If that’s how you define success, then it’s definitely possible, but I have an amazing team that I owe many thanks to.
So, here’s the play-by-play of how I got through my first year in business, debt free and profitable.
1. Taking a chance on myself:
I didn’t become an entrepreneur—I always was one. No matter what where I worked, my desire was always to have my own company one day. I started several side businesses, including selling gift baskets and virtual administrative services, and once I felt confident in my skillset, the idea of owning my own business in Automotive Marketing became a very viable option.
Although I was confident, I was also extremely scared at the same time. All the “what ifs” started to go through my mind, but drowning them out was a stronger voice inside that kept saying “go for it.”
Still, it took 3 months to build up the courage, until finally one day I woke up and said “today is the day.” I quit my job that morning, and without a detailed plan of what services I would offer or what my company name would be, I began to take the steps toward creating my business.
2. Making alliances with the right partners:
Although I was on my own, I knew that I was going to need help with my service offerings. I wanted to be known as the best, and I wanted to make sure that my clients were getting their desired results. I was very careful in choosing who I worked with, and in many ways, I feel I got lucky. Many of the companies I have partnered with are run by genuinely good people—hard working, loyal, and industry leaders—and together we’ve had our share of ups and downs. Just as my clients trust that I’ll be there to do my very best even when things don’t go well, I have full confidence that my industry partners have my back as well. Trust and loyalty are the foundation to all my partner relationships, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I vouch for them and I cheer them on, and support them in any way I can—even if it doesn’t benefit me personally, but I know that it will help them in the end. I strongly feel that it’s the only way to think and behave if you want to have long term success.
3. Utilizing existing relationships:
Looking back, I’ve learned why my other businesses didn’t work out: I was meant to do what I’m doing now, and when it was the right time, everything came together. I have been in the automotive industry for 12 years, on and off, and when I got back into the industry 3 years ago working in sales, I had no idea what a challenge it would be. Cold calling became my everyday routine, and it’s where I built many of the wonderful client relationships that I have today. If I didn’t make so many connections and great relationships, I wouldn’t have been able to start my business on such a great foot.
I was profitable from day one because my business was a continuation of many of the services I had been offering over the past years. My clients knew and trusted me to deliver, and they didn’t care how I did it, as long as they could still trust me to get it done.
I was very fortunate to have started the way I did because it allowed me to fund my marketing initiatives in order to grow my team and my client base.
4. Video Marketing & Advertising:
Having started with a leg up was wonderful, but my eyes were set on growing my business to its fullest potential. I didn’t have a huge budget, but I knew I needed to do something that was going to grab attention and raise curiosity about who we were and what we offered. The way to reach the most amount of people on a small budget is through video marketing. I was too self-conscious to just pick up a camera and start recording, so I called on someone I had met through LinkedIn, a film producer with direct automotive retail experience. After speaking with him, I knew he was the right guy. Of course, I had no idea at the time that he would become such a crucial part of reaching my business goals. He taught me so much about video and Facebook advertising, and my first video out of the gate got over 50,000 views in its first week! Here’s the link to the video: https://youtu.be/A9PFKj_ueP0
I later went on to do 3 more videos, all advertised through Facebook and LinkedIn. Originally, I didn’t offer video marketing as a service, but it worked so well for me that I started offering it to all my dealership clients, and it’s become one of our top selling services.
5. Hiring the “right” team:
Having a small business means that every team member has the capability of enhancing your business growth or deterring it. I realized this through trial and error. I went through hiring the wrong fit before understanding how detrimental it could be to our business and reputation.
A year later, there are 6 of us along with several outside vendor partners.
The one thing that I failed to understand in the beginning was that I needed to look at my own skill set first, in order to figure out who to hire to supplement that. For example, my strength is in sales. If I had done it right, I would have hired someone with a complimentary skill set, such as operations. Someone organized and good at time management, who could handle all the incoming projects. Instead, I decided to duplicate myself by hiring someone else to do sales. That was the wrong the move.
I now handle all sales, and my team includes a Director of Operations, Senior Web Developer, Junior Web Developer & Ad Manager, Senior Graphic Designer, and Digital/Social Media Manager.
Besides their talents and skills, I look for people who are motivated by achievements. I believe in mutually beneficial relationships, and I support my team members in their personal goals both inside and outside of our work environment. Most of our team members have other initiatives that they are working on, and I would never ever ask them to stop their lives in order to better mine. If you treat your employees with dignity and respect, they will treat your clients in the same way.