Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessica Maxson, principal of Simplified by Jess, located in Coconut Creek, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Simplified is truly my passion project because I enjoy helping people and love to create order out of chaos. Happiness is what I feel when I'm able to simplify the lives of my friends and family (and the occasional flight seatmate or friendly stranger). I work with clients through harmonious collaboration. The goal is to seamlessly integrate the client's insights into actionable ideas and processes to bridge the divide between quality strategy and efficient execution.
Using organizationally-focused tools and processes that I have crafted and cultivated through my marketing career, I help businesses streamline and focus their marketing operations. Driving efficient strategies to maximize growth, both externally and internally, is a significant factor in the simplification process. Utilizing digital marketing and voice-over as evolutionary forces elevates the organizational outcome. Let's collaborate and discuss your needs; then, we will work together to make it happen. For me, a harmonious client-consultant dynamic is key.
My husband, Thomas Maxson, and my brother, Matthew de la Torre, collaborated to design the Simplified logo. The Simplified logo is based on my unwavering support of Project Semicolon and mental health awareness. Upon first review, the design instantly clicked for Simplified, especially the semicolon (as it looks like a stylized "J" for Jess) and the four yellow circles denoting the Simplified core values of Harmony, Collaboration, Quality, and Efficiency.
Tell us about yourself
Throughout my 14+ years of professional experience, my view of success and happiness has shifted dramatically. When I graduated college in 2008, I had real goals of climbing the corporate ladder, becoming a Vice President of a Marketing department by the age of 30, and being financially well-compensated. I worked 50-60 hour weeks and spent more than the occasional Friday night at the office wrapping up projects to ease my ever-growing stress.
In 2017, I hit a wall. I had utterly burned myself out and could function to my optimal level, neither professionally nor personally. The corporate environment had become toxic, the stress levels were untenable, and I no longer felt motivated. For a type-A gal like myself, that was a horrifying feeling. With the support of my husband and my family, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and I resigned with no job opportunity to turn to. It was time for a real break.
Suffice it to say; I lasted about four months into my "early retirement." I was ready to sink my teeth into something creative and fulfilling. Leaning into my passion for marketing operations and simplicity, I opened Simplified by Jess in October 2017.
When drafting my client agreement paperwork, I carefully considered what I needed most in a professional relationship. I realized that what motivates me most is harmony. A working relationship devoid of stress-inducing moments and an opportunity to truly work together as a team. Thus, I created a Harmony Clause in my contract:
Client recognizes and acknowledges that a harmonious, professional relationship is mandatory in this Agreement so as not to corrupt a productive working dynamic between Simplified and Client. Simplified and client agree to be open to suggestions, complaints, or discussions without judgment. Client agrees to follow the scheduling and timeframes approved by Client and Simplified at the commencement of a project. Simplified agrees to discuss flexibility in rescheduling any deadline at the client's request but will do so without compromising the quality or deadline of the project.
Every client has signed the Simplified by Jess contract, and the majority have abided by it. For those who didn't, we respectfully parted ways. I realized then, and every day since that I have the power to control my professional world around me by creating and communicating healthy boundaries to avoid burnout and unnecessary stress. Undoubtedly, understanding my need for harmony is the most significant lesson of my professional life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Without sounding harsh or trite, it is very hard to come across a strong work ethic and authentic integrity in this day and age. My superpower is creating an organization out of chaos and always following through on my promises. My reputation in my community and industry is strong. When I'm on the job, clients know it will get done with little supervision and high quality of service.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
March 2020. I'm sure most small business owners unfortunately suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 was absolutely Simplified's worst year productively and financially. Every client I worked with ended up putting their projects on hold, essentially shutting down any revenue. Not knowing how long this pandemic would last, I decided to learn a new skill that was pandemic-proof – voice acting. After taking a rigorous course with Such a Voice, I immediately started auditioning with my mastered demos to "save" my business under a DBA, Simply the Jess Voice Over.
I'm so grateful that Simplified by Jess made it through the worst of the pandemic and is on its way to celebrating five years in business this coming October. I'm also pretty jazzed that I was able to pick up a new and fun skill to add to my repertoire.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Give yourself grace throughout the process, as it can be taxing and arduous.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Even in the hardest of times, persevere. Keep going.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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