Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jess Spino, a Fractional CMO/COO, Systems and Branding Expert, based in Buffalo, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My name is Jess Spino, and I'm a Fractional CMO/COO and Systems & Branding Expert. My customers are typically either 1) entrepreneurs with service-based, online businesses or 2) traditional brick-and-mortar businesses looking to create a more impactful presence online.
Tell us about yourself
When I began working in this role, I was a full-time COO for only one business. Not only did I crave the excitement of different team dynamics and different types of industries, but I felt like my income was limited because just one person was responsible for it.
The Fractional Executive model benefits me as the contractor and my clients because when they hire me, they get access to my experience and expertise on a part-time, contractual basis without having to pay the hefty salary that would be required if I were their full-time employee.
I can work within many different businesses at the same time and have access to a diverse array of experiences that make me more well-rounded… and all of my clients definitely benefit from that! Plus, I’ve grown my professional network much faster by working with other contractors on each client’s team – and they’re happy to refer me as well when they see the results I drive!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I’m really proud to have built a multiple six-figure business from home and to have done it 100% my way. I am picky about whose energy I will take on, so I only work with amazing, high-integrity humans that treat themselves and their teams with love and respect. It’s also really important to me that my two teenage daughters see me forging my own path and doing business my own way, so they know that with a clear vision and a solid plan, they can design a career and a life they’re in love with!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
What’s been hardest for me is hiring support. I’d love to scale faster and help more clients, but I’m always limited by the amount of time I have to dedicate to my clients. I’m not interested in an agency model where I hire lots of people to do the work for me that I just oversee – as what I love most about what I do is the implementation… rather than outsourcing it or managing others. I do have one assistant who is amazing and has been with me for over two years, but I struggle with giving things up entirely! So… does anybody know a carbon copy of me that is looking for a business partner? ;)
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Remove "I don't know how" from your vocabulary, and instead – be resourceful. In this day and age, we are extremely fortunate to have a wealth of information at our fingertips – yet it's less and less common to see people that are willing to go hunting for solutions. If I waited to be taught a lot of what I know... well, I'd still be waiting. Utilize everything you have at your disposal – including Google and YouTube, your personal and professional network, hell... even that little question mark in the corner of the screen when you're trying to figure out a new app! The scrappier you are when seeking answers, the smarter you'll get and the more well-equipped you'll be to tackle any problem that comes your way.
- Consider my 3V Framework before starting a business – Vision, Value, and Viability. Vision is the fun part – the formation of an idea that you're stoked out of your mind about. Paint the picture in color and go wild imagining who and what your vision includes and where it will take place. Value is where you come back down to earth for a minute and ensure that someone will PAY for what you want to create. Who will pay for it? How much will they pay, and under what circumstances? Finally, viability is where you parse vision and value to create a roadmap for exactly how you will accomplish it. What tools do you have already, and what tools do you need? How long will it take to build? Spell out every detail and assign the next steps, owners, and due dates to make sure it's feasible and actionable before pressing play.
- Protect your boundaries… vehemently. When you’re first starting your business, it’s tempting to take on any work that pays any amount of money and work on it at any time of day or night. This may mean rush jobs, canceled personal plans, and maybe even doing work outside your zone of genius. But the result quickly becomes resentment, overwhelm, and burnout. Learn to prioritize your workload (and your free time!) and say no to opportunities that aren’t a great fit or that don’t bring you joy. Set working hours and stick to them, and tell your clients how you want to be communicated with and when you’ll respond. Not only will this help you narrow your niche and become the expert that your ideal clients flock to, but you’ll be able to be present… whether you’re on the job or off the clock.
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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