Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in advertising services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nikki Gillingham, CEO of Blue Whale Communications, located in West Kelowna, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Blue Whale Communications is a boutique content marketing agency delivering big-agency services on a small-business-friendly budget. We help entrepreneurs, and small-to-medium-sized businesses use content marketing to help grow brand awareness, develop authority and thought leadership, and position themselves as the go-to expert in their field. This is all done via either done-for-you or done-with-you services, whichever is best for the client. Of course, we also offer coaching and training for those who want to take it on themselves and need some guidance.
Tell us about yourself
I've always loved writing and telling stories. I have a BA with a major in communications and a minor in journalism. Then I went on to get a Bachelor of Public Relations as well. I began working in the marketing and communications field in 2011, and in 2016 had been managing communications for a national firm for several years when they were acquired. Subsequently, my position was one of the ones that were cut. I was struggling to figure out my next step when I decided I wanted to help multiple small businesses with their marketing and communications strategies - not just one. That's when I launched Blue Whale Communications in January 2017.
Since then, it's been an epic adventure - running a business comes with a big learning curve! But I think that motivates me to help as many people as possible. Marketing is a big undertaking, and if we can remove it from someone's plate so they can focus on what they do best and enjoy most, that makes me happy. I'm also the co-host of a new podcast, A Little Marketing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think each phase of the business comes with its own milestones! Many businesses fail in the first 5 years, so getting through those first 5 was a big moment for me. Blue Whale has worked with more than 50 clients in North America, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East - I love getting to meet so many cool people doing really interesting things.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things - especially when you're a service provider - is creating boundaries. It can be hard to say No or not to answer an email that comes in on a Saturday, but it's so important for the longevity of the business and your own mental health to implement boundaries early and stick to them.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be sure to schedule time each week as "CEO time" to work ON your business, not IN it. Website updates, new service offer creations, time spent learning - all of these things will help your business grow, but you need to schedule time for it.
- Write down your systems and processes so you can easily bring on help or have someone take over if you're sick. The earlier you have systems in place, the easier it will be later when you're busy.
- Connect with a mentor or other entrepreneurs in your area. Entrepreneurship can be lonely and confusing; having someone to bounce ideas off of or to vent to that understands is a big help.
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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