Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Annie Ianko, Founder of Iris Marketing Solutions.

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

Iris Marketing Solutions started as Iris Content back in 2016. This business was born out of a desire to connect talented writers with small to medium business owners who are looking for solutions to be found online with their websites and products. The business now caters to the needs of more than 150 clients, some of the other marketing agencies, high-rated online publications (like Forbes), but also businesses in all possible industries, from legal to financial, from retail to industrial. We have created thousands of pages, blogs, and marketing collateral for our clients, and we are still going strong about it. Our clients are proud to be on the first page of Google results with the content they receive from us and always come back for more.

Tell us about yourself

I have worked for over 20 years as a journalist, content editor, and content marketer. I spent a lot of time and energy helping others grow, only to end up being treated badly by various greedy employers. I saw writers being exploited for other businesses' financial gains, I saw some shady content creation practices, and I promised myself that I could do better. I created Iris Content with my sister, Alecs, a very talented journalist and a Wisconsin partner who sadly died in 2018. No matter what happened through these six years, we managed to survive, bounce back and always reinvent our business.

Now, Iris Marketing Solutions, or Iris Sol Mar, as we endearingly call her, is a business that is in continuous transformation. We are reinventing our services, we expanded the team, and we are offering full SEO and design services as well. We have become a full-service agency where everyone trying to make a difference online can be helped to achieve that.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The industry is cutthroat. There is a lot of competition, and some business owners are ruthless when it comes to the pricing they provide for their clients. Our biggest accomplishment to date is the fact that we have survived and are still going strong and also have kept our prices affordable. We are probably the most flexible agency out there; we always try to meet our clients' needs first. We talk to them, work within their budgets and provide a lot of value for money.

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

Finding the balance between personal life and work. But I am sure this is something everyone is telling you. Also, it is very difficult to keep a team strong and motivated. We have 40 writers and editors right now, and keeping everyone happy is what basically accounts for most of my week.

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

  1. Never give up, no matter how difficult it may seem! Some days will be tough; you will want to just say: "no, I've had enough!" But the most important gift you can give yourself is the patience to go through with a smile. It's so easy as an entrepreneur to get sucked into feeling exhausted or frustrated, and you often think the blame is yours alone. But a negative mindset sucks up the mental bandwidth and energy that you need to stay focused and successful.
  2. Always challenge yourself to grow!!! There is no growth when you're solving the same problems over and over. Creativity and novelty occur when you step out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. If you're struggling to stay motivated, always look for challenges.
  3. Instead of being disheartened by failures, get up and find out why you have failed. Remember, if you want to stay motivated in your business, keep inventing solutions, and keep innovating!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Only that our business is constantly growing and is proud to be growing along with the businesses we serve; what you will find with us is very much a "boutique experience" where every client is treated as if they were our only client. And this is what I think differentiates us from other agencies.

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.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.