Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emma Tessler, Founder of Ninety Five Media, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Ninety Five Media is a digital marketing agency building results-driven strategies for scaling brands. We've worked with more than 25 industries and 100+ clients to grow their online presence and increase profits from their digital marketing content.
We have helped clients see exponential success, such as increasing our Instagram follower count by 25k in under eight months, gaining 72.9 million impressions on Pinterest, growing a LinkedIn audience by +338%, reaching 2.8 million accounts on Facebook, and creating several TikTok accounts from the ground up that receive over 25k views monthly.
Tell us about yourself
I landed in the world of digital marketing by complete accident. While I was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology and majoring in Interior Design, I interned for someone who wanted to expand her brand and drive new business via Instagram. This was back in 2015 when very few brands saw Instagram as a viable lead magnet for new business. I was intrigued, though, and decided to dive in. I ended up falling in love with this new-to-me industry and spent the next few years learning everything I could via blogs, podcasts, and online courses.
For the next few years, I grew Ninety Five Media as a side hustle while working full-time as an Interior Designer in NYC. I spent countless hours outside of my 9-5 schedule serving clients and beginning to expand our team. When 2020 and the pandemic hit, the Design industry was hurting. At the same time, digital marketing was taking off in a way I'd never seen it do before. It was an exciting time for our company, and I knew this was my chance to take the leap. So in December 2020, I quit my corporate job and decided to pursue scaling Ninety Five Media full time. This felt like an incredibly scary decision at the time - but it has turned out to be the best choice I've ever made.
Today, we have scaled to a team of 9, worked with the most incredible clients, and have big plans for the years to come. I feel insanely lucky that I get to do this every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been watching our clients' businesses flourish and expand due to the content and strategies that we create for them. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the impact of our team's work!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The biggest challenge I've faced as a business owner has been the constant uplevels that the brand requires from me. I'm a big believer in mindset and have found that my own mindset has impacted our growth as a company and as a team over the years in both positive and negative ways. It's up to me to be the best leader I can be and to constantly work on self-development in order to continue scaling the brand to the point we have our eyes set on. I am a forever student. As a leader/founder/CEO, you set the tone for your team. It's important that you're not only aware of this but also consciously working to improve this every single day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Focus on the long game. Set your goals + vision and work towards them every day. I believe that with a long-term vision, you can pace yourself better and ensure that your scaling sustainably rather than in a way that will lead to burnout. This is key.
- Trust your team. As a type-A person, releasing control over certain tasks that I simply shouldn't be doing anymore is a constant battle. Just this week, I realized I was still doing something that didn't need to be on my plate anymore. Our team is incredibly talented, and the first time I asked them to do this task, they blew me away with how well it was completed. It's these little moments that I come back to time and time again in remembering how talented our team is, how much I trust them, and that releasing control is not only OK, but necessary in order to continue scaling. Remind yourself why you hired your team and that your time should be spent on the big-picture tasks, not the day-to-day deliverables.
- Create SOPs. I've worked for many brands that never created SOPs, and it impacted the performance of their work. When I started seeing glimpses of this happen in our company years ago, I dedicated several months to creating an incredibly detailed Team Dashboard that allowed my team to have every single SOP, workflow, and resource they could possibly need at their fingertips at all times. This has built more ownership over tasks within our team and reduced answering the same questions time and time again myself. This Dashboard is always in progress and grows as we develop and expand - but it has been a game changer for us as a brand. I couldn't imagine not having it today. I highly recommend creating something like this for yourself, even if you don't have a team yet, to prepare for the future.
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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