Starting a business from the ground up is hard, and keeping it alive is even harder. According to forbes.com, 50% of small businesses won’t survive past year five. With Avail Marketing hitting its’ 6th anniversary, that means we’re beating the statistic, which is very exciting for us!
We, at Avail Marketing, have been celebrating all month! We have a huge social media special happening right now, and this article provides a little perspective about being in business for six years from Avail’s founder, Amanda Wood.
1. What made you start your own business?
It was really a matter of timing, which is often a thing! I worked for an oil and gas services company for a number of years and then moved on to work for two different PR and marketing agencies after that — all of which were lacking in something or another for me and my growth as a marketing professional. However, I gained a ton of knowledge with each company I worked for. I never expected my work life to be perfect. Still, the reality was I was commuting 2+ hours a day working full-time at a marketing agency in the Houston Galleria area, and that really didn’t work when you’re a single mom.
While I was working at this marketing agency, we (my family and I) were going through some very trying, personal times. My daughter lost her father tragically from an unexpected death. I needed to be there for her, which meant I needed to figure out something else for my job.
I didn’t have a drawn-out business plan, but I did know exactly how to create a unique selling opportunity for other businesses who might be interested in my marketing services.
My (now) husband (we were only dating at the time) said I really needed to be my own boss! I chose to take that as a positive statement, and let it encourage me to move forward. With his support and support from my other family members, I started out freelancing. My mother, who is a realtor in The Woodlands with many connections, instantly hired me to design her brochures and manage her social media. She introduced me to many other realtors and business people. I also formed relationships while volunteering for nonprofit organizations in The Woodlands community. Altogether, I started building a small client list.
I knew from go that storytelling marketing would be a unique niche. My experience working solo in the marketing department at a large oil and gas corporation provided me the experience and confidence that I could become a solopreneur and offer all of the services as a whole marketing agency.
2. How does your business look different now vs. when you first started?
It doesn’t look all that different from when it started — it has just grown. I have learned a lot throughout the years, and the company has physically grown with the addition of Makenna Florez to the team. She is my right-hand girl, and, with her, we are able to bring on more clients and do more exciting things. Being younger and a Gen Z, she teaches me new things all the time about what’s new and trending, which is great because we strive to be in the know to offer trending and relevant content ideas to our clients.
3. What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
The freedom to work when I want, where I want. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll usually find me M-F, 9-6, sitting at my desk, tied to the computer, but I do have the freedom to take a break to go on a walk in the middle of the day or take a long lunch to catch up with a good friend.
Entrepreneurs pretty much make their own rules when it comes to managing their own businesses; however, it takes dedication to your work to get it done at the end of the day. I have stayed up until 3am a time or two working on website designs for clients because that’s what it took to get the job done. If you don’t have that dedication, it would be very difficult to be successful as an entrepreneur.
I also love having the flexibility to be there for my family. When I decided to go out on my own and start freelancing, one of the biggest reasons why was because my daughter was at a crucial age in life where she needed her mom. I was gone from 7am to 7pm every weekday because the office I was working at was in the Houston Galleria area. I was missing things, and as a single mom, that didn’t work for me. My husband also has a demanding job in the automotive industry with retail hours, so it’s nice to be able to have a flexible schedule that coincides with his rigorous schedule.
4. How do you define success in your business? In the marketing industry?
For my business, I define success very simply. I define success as starting a new folder on my computer for a new client. (I get excited doing it. It’s like my brain kicks in to know that I have a new client I’ll be working with.) I also define success as positive feedback from a client saying their advertising strategy is working, or when I get feedback like, “I don’t know which logo to choose because I love them all!” I count all of those little “wins” as successes.
In the marketing industry, we define success mainly through analytics. I am not a math person, so numbers aren’t my thing, but through the intelligent software we use for social media management and Google Analytics, we can look at our ads, social media campaigns, etc. and learn what’s working and where there’s room for improvement and pivot to get the results we are seeking at that time.
Marketing success is also measured in its intrinsic value. There isn’t always a clear path to what leads to a sale. When financial analysts and investors measure intrinsic value, they use both quantitative and qualitative to gauge performance and measure results. The same goes for marketing. Because of the nature of our industry, it’s sometimes hard to measure everything in clear-cut numbers. When one of our clients emails us to let us know that people in the community are recognizing him from our advertising, that’s successful! Even if the click-through rate for those ads isn’t as high as we wanted. There are so many ways to be successful in marketing because there are so many positive outcomes that can’t always be measured perfectly: brand awareness and recognition, presence in the community, word-of-mouth, etc.
5. What have been a few of your biggest learning experiences in running a business?
I work in the world of communication, and the biggest lesson I have learned is how to communicate! I am a very short and sweet, KISS it, no-sugar-coating kind of person. That trait may have been a learned trait from being timed writing press releases, I don’t know, but I tend to be pretty direct with business. I’m always professional and polite — I just cut the fluff and focus on the project at hand. I have learned that not everyone works the same way I do nor do they necessarily understand all of the terminology in marketing, website development and the social media world, so I learned how to slow down and when to stop to explain the process or why something is important.
Recently, I have found that creating short video tutorials are very helpful. For instance, adding an admin to a Facebook business page seems like a simple enough task, but with the ever-evolving interface and redundancies Facebook uses to be “helpful”, it can be difficult. I simply take a video recording of me showing the process of how to get to the correct page to add an admin, and I send it in an email to clients. They seem to find that helpful.
6. How do you deal with fear and doubt?
That’s a difficult question to answer, and I honestly think that’s because as a business owner, there are so many responsibilities to worry about each day, there’s no time for fear and doubt.
When I do stop for a second and allow myself to think about things that might cause fear and doubt, I try to quickly turn my mind into focusing on the positive. I recently watched an interview with Will Smith on a David Letterman special on Netflix who asked him a similar question, and he said, “99% of things people worry about don’t actually ever happen.” This really stuck with me, and his distinctive voice saying, “99%” now pops into my head every once in a while, which instantly forces me to think differently.
If all else fails, an intense HIIT workout or a soothing yoga workout will always do the trick!
The 6th anniversary of Avail Marketing has been a great time to slow down, reflect and also cause for celebration. Putting together the presentation we did for our client appreciation event made me go through so many pictures and remember the moments spent supporting our clients in every way we could with their marketing.
I love working with any sized business — from the brand new companies without so much as a company name to the 25+-year-old established companies. All of which have stories to tell, and I truly believe when you use those stories in your marketing efforts, you will be successful.
Cheers to our clients who have trusted and supported us during these 6 years, and cheers to many more years to come!
Visit the Avail Marketing website to learn more about our services. Connect with Amanda Wood on LinkedIn here! If you’re interested in getting a free month of social media management services, click here to schedule a free consultation call with Amanda.
Are you interested in getting a free month of social media management services?
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