By Selina Archer
“It’s not about the money”, a statement that has earned me rolling eyes and sarcastic replies. For the more polite audiences, it has been met with sympathetic stares or dismissive nods accompanied by faint smiles. I do not entirely blame those that dispute it.
Partially because as a business owner, it is my job to keep the lights on and the contractors paid. Good will and pats on the back don’t quite pay the bills. There is also that pesky need to make a living and provide financial stability for myself and family. While this is all very much a reality, I have an innate need to make a difference and feel a sense of achievement as I meet my obligations. This may be the reason M.Y. INK is drawn to entrepreneurs, start-ups and clients who have risked it all to see their visions turn into thriving businesses. We are them; they are us.
When I left the corporate world of fat paychecks, prestigious titles, and a guaranteed salary, it was because I too had succumbed to the desire to excel in a business of my own making. Like many that venture onto this path I was met by the disenfranchised but well-meaning advice of loved ones who wondered aloud and often if I was making the right decision. Not that I did not have support, my biggest cheerleaders were and are my closest family members. I was incredibly lucky in that respect, but the doubt of others added to the misgivings in my own mind.
It took three years before I stopped accepting paid positions and working at my own company part-time. Three years before I had the courage to fully make M.Y. INK my focus instead of a side-gig. Now it is a decision I do not regret in the slightest.
They say who feels it knows it. In the early stages I took on projects pro-bono to build the business and prove that as a marketeer I could stand on my own. I was often discouraged when those projects didn’t immediately bring in the clients I needed to sustain my business. I lived mostly on my savings, but I refused to throw in the towel.
A part of that tenacity was inspired by an ambitious female entrepreneur who I had the privilege of taking on as a client. While a small fee was paid, the scope of work called for more than she could afford. We developed business plans, started social pages, spent hours pouring over logo designs, planned events, and even went as far as to separate her personal budgets from her business expenses. I pursued her business goals as if they were my own. I taught her how to use graphic programs to design her own material and in short how to think like a marketer. Today that home-based business has flourished into a thriving store with diversified product lines and a loyal customer base. I tell this tale every time I have the opportunity. Not only because in my darkest, most dubious times as a new business owner – thinking of her was a light in a tunnel of fear; but also because of how proud I am to be a part of her success story. It was not about the money.
Now that my client portfolio is at a healthy level and I am prospected for new projects, I remember how important it was for me to see M.Y. INK make headway. I understand the trepidation when we onboard a client who has no idea how to make a meager marketing budget work or even where to begin. I am deeply honored that they trust my experience and skills to make the magic happen. Do we as a business end up creating more animations, social assets, adding more to social media calendars, writing more press releases, or developing more material to support the campaign than we were hired to do? Many times, yes. Do we have many more success stories? YES!
I stand by my statement, “It isn’t about the money.” Yes, we do charge for our services, we are a business after all. It is more than that though. There is pride, a sense of accomplishment and undulated joy when we see our strategies pay off for clients and can add another story of triumph to our inspirational narratives.
To anyone thinking of making the plunge and branching out on their own, don’t make it about the money completely. Step out because you have a vision, a desire to challenge yourself and grow as an individual and businessperson. Most of all though, take this saying to heart, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”