Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with April Martini, Co-Founder of Forthright-People, located in Cincinnati, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are your personal coaches. Your strategic collaborators. Your creative partners. Backed by our forthright approach, our flexible “coach-train-do” framework ensures you get everything you need and nothing you don’t. Whoever you are and whatever you do, we are here to help you become a savvier marketer. That can include yourself, your team, or your business.
For yourself, no matter where you are in your career, our customized coaching, personal brand, and vigilant leadership development programs are designed to help you take the next step—whether you feel stuck in your role, are positioning yourself for promotion, or are considering going out on your own. For your team, we aim to inspire, educate, and activate with every training session, workshop, and keynote speaking engagement.
Our programs are designed to tackle your team’s unique challenges and are backed by tools that help each person put what they learn into practice immediately. For your business, from brand development and communications strategies to marketing campaigns and executions, we have the industry experience (and an all-star team of seasoned freelancers) to formulate the plan and do the work your business needs now.
Tell us about yourself
I spent the first 15 years of my career exploring all of the ins and outs of agency life. I am a believer that learning never stops, and the more experiences we amass, the better we are able to solve life’s many challenges. I made many conscious moves throughout my career to do just that. I am a graphic designer by background and also have an MBA, plus years spent in agencies from branding to design to CPG to advertising to production. But what I enjoy the most, and I feel like I excel at, is managing people and personalities and how identifying and selling the right work to the right clients, which is what really matters in business.
When I originally set out to start my own business, it was with the intention to find a better way and, in turn, help others do their branding, marketing, and, ultimately, their business even better. My first company built the infrastructure to be able to offer a full suite of branding, marketing, and business consulting options to clients that could not afford the big agency prices without sacrificing the quality of work and deliverables. I built a bench of freelance talent and brought them in and out of the process when needed, so the client had me managing everything on their behalf. We still use this model and that group of folks today at Forthright People.
With Forthright People, our Coach-Train-Do model helps us be able to offer a much broader breadth of services and be flexible to meet our clients where they are. My personal favorite part of what we do is the "Coach" portion, and it is what gets me out of bed each morning. I love the work, don't get me wrong, but bringing my expertise and experience to help others rise is what I believe I am called to do. By blending work and life in coaching, I am able to help people build skills to do it all better and have the impact they are looking to achieve.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We recently launched Forthright Women with the intention of bringing powerful executive women who are also moms together to have a real conversation about how we manage life, the challenges we face, and how we make it all work at the end of the day. We looked around and just didn't find a group like this, where a community existed to support each other, so we built it.
We had our first event last week, and we are already working on the next one. I believe this is my true calling in life: to bring together these like-minded women so we can get more of us in these positions! There just aren't enough of us out there, even in 2022.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Anne (my business partner) and I are responsible for it all. Most days, I am energized by this. But when the cash flow is lower than we'd like in certain months or a big contract we were counting on doesn't come through for whatever reason, it falls to us. On the other hand, I have learned more about myself, grown more than I ever could have anticipated, and continue to be challenged every day as the person in the driver's seat.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get really clear on what you do well (and what you don't, which is where you will need the support of others).
- Identify your "why" and be honest with yourself. Why are you doing this, and why now?
- Do something every day to push yourself forward. It can be daunting, but when you break it down and just tell yourself you will do one thing each day, no matter how small, momentum builds.
Bonus One: Take time for yourself and take care of yourself. Too many people think that they have to work themselves to death. It is never more important to be at your best than when you are taking the leap to start your own business.
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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