Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amber Frankhuizen, founder and CEO of AFMKTG, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

AFMKTG (AF Marketing) is a creative and branding agency focused on real estate development and other direct-to-consumer brands, including yachts. I took my experience working in real estate, as well as overseeing PR and marketing teams, and launched the type of marketing agency I myself wished I could have worked with. With a passion for mentorship, positive team attitudes, and less sales-focused roles, AFMKTG and I have excelled since.

My first client as CEO of AFMKTG was in the yachting space. While we initially focused on social media, we have since added more clients and expanded to web development, design, marketing, strategy, and brand building. I thrive by maintaining network connections and often work with clients I’ve met even up to ten years prior who remembered my work ethic.

I have a unique approach to building my business. I focus on the personal development of my team and believe that is key to company strength. The AFMKTG team is remote, nimble, and adventurous, and I believe my strengths in running a business include being a strong leader, managing projections, managing a budget, and hiring an effective team.

Tell us about yourself

Like most, 2020 was a year of reshuffling priorities, planning for the future, and helping others in need. My team at AFMKTG was fully remote before 2020, allowing me to focus on hiring new team members and expanding my business during COVID. During this time, I returned to my roots in real estate development. As the market in San Diego was heating up, I took on the marketing for new home communities and brought a fresh, new perspective to typical tract home promotions. I wasn't just building my business— I was helping others build their futures. As I encountered struggling small businesses and entrepreneurs over the past year, I supported them through marketing initiatives that led to successful reopenings.

When I graduated college in 2009, I struggled to find my way— working three jobs without much guidance and in desperate need of a mentor. I paved my own path and worked my way up, vowing to always leave the ladder down to help other college students and recent graduates find their way.

In 2020, I developed a program to help other business owners create internship programs in their own companies. This year, the program was made available and it’s already revolutionizing the concept of internships. Based on the mentorship-first model I employ at AFMKTG, this program focuses on both personal and professional development.

While opportunities for college students and recent graduates to have in-person and hands-on experiences were dwindling, I set up monthly office hours over Zoom to provide personal and professional coaching for college students and recent graduates. During this time, young professionals receive unfettered access to ask questions about their career, life, and school and receive guidance for navigating COVID-era stresses and forging a career path.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Building AFMKTG. I’m a huge believer in the slingshot method. Taking a step back has always allowed me to leapfrog two steps forward. When I left my corporate role in 2018, I wanted to take some time off to recover from the grind. I saved for a year and intended to get zen while I figured out my next step. Within two months, my phone was ringing with people asking for help with their marketing campaigns and I was Googling my way towards building this business.

So while building AFMKTG has been my ultimate creative endeavor, the thing I’ve learned from this experience, and many others, is that the slingshot philosophy is very real. I took a step back in Q1 of 2022 to reorganize our business systems, rebuild our website, re-price our service offerings, and really focus on our existing clients. Then– BOOM– Q2 hits and we have a rush of inquiries. If it weren’t for taking the time to slow down, systematize, and strategize in Q1, I would have been completely overwhelmed with how to handle the new influx of business. Instead, taking that step back allowed me to step into the future with clarity, certainty, and confidence.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest part right now is bandwidth– supporting my team while also expanding. Growing a small business is different than a startup, so my goal is to continue methodical growth.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. It’s hard to speak to people who don’t speak your language. Instead of trying to insist your clients/customers learn your business terms, meet them in the middle and understand what they mean in their own industry terms.
  2. A focus on developing young talent is a core component of the company and its success.
  3. You can't shortcut your way to good vibes or a happy team. As the leader, YOU are responsible for the energy you bring to the workplace.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Culture comes from the top. If you're dedicated to being a good leader, you should focus on cleaning up your energy when you're out of the office so you can bring your best self into the office.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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