Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in advertising services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Britanny Burr, Co-Owner of Analog'Digital, located in Canmore, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the co-owner of Analog'Digital, a digital agency based out of Canmore. My background is in journalism and marketing, and my partner, Ken Pillipow, is a web developer and designer. He writes the code, I write the words, we come up with designs together, and we make sure it's all seen by the right people. We build a lot of websites and digital products, but we also help our ongoing clients with holistic marketing, from website management to social media and even traditional media. One thing we didn't expect when we started was that most of our clients are in the FinTech (financial technology) space. We both love emerging tech and industries that move fast. This has ended up being a perfect fit. But we also have a nice mix of locally owned businesses, non-profits, and other inspiring clients. We love the variety.
Tell us about yourself
In terms of my background, I grew up in Canmore, and I went to Mount Royal University for English Literature. When I graduated, I moved to Montreal, where I began my career in journalism. I was working full-time for a lifestyle and news publication and making pennies, but I was absolutely over the moon. After two years, I moved to Vancouver, and after two years there, I found myself in New York, writing for a Psychology and Sexuality publication and working for a digital agency in Manhattan. When I landed back in Canmore in 2018, I met my now business partner by chance, and we immediately clicked. Later, he floated the idea of "starting something" together, and we registered our business weeks later. It was really tough for me to make the move over to marketing full-time. I struggled with the loss of the "writer" identity. But it was the obvious choice, and our agency was growing fast. We've seen nothing but growth, and it has been fulfilling since the very beginning. Kenny and I are really similar people, and we've formed amazing relationships with all of our clients. The days and hours are really long, but it's so worth it when you're building something of your own, and the victories are so much sweeter.
As for me as a person, I grew up dancing competitively, and I now teach barre at Wild Heart in Canmore. I love reading, writing, hiking, trying new restaurants, spending time in the city, and taking on hundreds of different short-term hobbies. Right now, I'm into nail art, but my past few fixations include making fancy ice cubes, crocheting, making digital collages, and the list goes on. I'm what they call a dabbler. I adore my family, my partner Dexter and our cat, my community here in Canmore, and the other places I've once called home.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This might not sound like the typical entrepreneurial achievement, but it's important to remember that Kenny and I started this as a fun side project, thinking it would be nice if it did well, but we both had full-time jobs we didn't plan on leaving anytime soon. After about a year of Analog'Digital, our "side project" had grown to the point that it was clear it needed and deserved more focus. I left my job first, as my schedule was less flexible, and a year later, Kenny left his. The decisions weren't easy for either of us, but I feel so proud to have grown something from the ground up that allowed these huge moves and offered the security and assurance we both needed to take the plunge. We have had so many unbelievable opportunities and met so many inspiring, brilliant, talented people, and it's just impossible to believe that we shook hands one day at the Rose and Crown Pub, and that started everything!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
To be blunt, I have no balance. I'm not good at separating life from work, and some days I struggle to be present in my personal life. That said, I've always been someone who dives in head-first, and I don't think our business would be where it is today if we didn't make our professional lives entirely personal, too. On a more day-to-day scale, I struggle with prioritization and proactivity; sometimes, little administrative tasks tend to become daunting, whereas huge tasks are no problem. I have a big workload and tons of deadlines, so I don't struggle with productivity, but the juggling sometimes gets the best of me. A few things that have really helped are: making a day timer on my iPad that helps me arrange my schedule and tasks into sprints (I made it specific to my tasks and life). I then use the "Pomodoro" clock method to time out work sprints and breaks. I attack the things I want to do the least (which are typically the easiest, anyway) right in the morning and save the things I'm really excited about until the afternoon. It's not always easy, but it's so rewarding and fun. If you can optimize your workday in a way that really works for you and go easy on yourself, everything will fall into place!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- This sounds negative, but recognize your weaknesses. It's so easy to overcommit and lose sight of things if you constantly take on tasks that you're not good at, isn't efficient at, and could be done way better and faster by someone else. I used to always get involved with other departments or offer my time to things that don't come easy to me, and I'd end up feeling awful and overrun with tasks that don't make me feel good/I'm not good at. I get excited, but that doesn't mean that I'm good at everything. Identify your weaknesses and pick partners/collaborators that complement them. (This is the same as the need for mindful delegation).
- Never start a business that MUST succeed. If you start a business that needs to make money immediately because you don't have other income or have spent a lot to get it off the ground, it won't work. When you're desperate and strapped for cash, you will make rash decisions, be too pushy with sales, take on projects that aren't right for you, and bring all the wrong energy into your new business. If you start something because you're really excited with the hopes that it could someday make money, you'll be able to let it grow organically and remove the pressure. We didn't leave our jobs until it was necessary. Actually, probably long after, it was necessary. This has allowed us to grow and attract the type of business we're looking for without having to make decisions based on scarcity.
- Communication and relationship building/maintenance are key. You need to really work on your communication skills and recognize your communication styles, stress responses, and tendencies under pressure to ensure you are conducting yourself mindfully and respectfully. At the end of the day, people need to like you to work with you or hire you. This doesn't mean you need to be anything but yourself; you just need to be a really good communicator and really adaptable in different settings with lots of different types of people!
- Lastly, always stay positive, remember that there is SO much opportunity and money in the world, and everything will happen when it's supposed to. Be sure to celebrate the wins and focus on the good, and remember why you started this thing in the first place.
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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