Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in consultancy but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marissa Taffer, Founder of M. Taffer Consulting, located in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business serves digital marketing agencies in three key areas. I provide fractional project management (temporary, part-time support), Process training and optimization (I'm an Asana Services Partner), and content support. I specialize in long-form blog content and write for brands in the DTC, Project Management, Marketing, and SaaS space. My clients are all digital marketing agencies and marketing departments that need additional support.
Tell us about yourself
After two in-house roles that were great learning opportunities but not the right fit, I decided to try going out on my own. Over the last four years, I have had the opportunity to refine my service offering to be the things I love doing most and that my clients value most.
My motivation comes from helping clients grow, whether it's providing much-needed project oversight during a particularly busy period or helping a small business CEO take off the project management hat so they can spend more time focusing on growing the business. I enjoy being able to come in and have an immediate impact.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
That's a toss-up. The first one that comes to mind is having that first 6-figure year and knowing I did it on my own (with a great support system). The other is making it through the last few years. From the unknown at the beginning of the pandemic to all of the other global issues we've confronted, it's amazing to see that my business is still not only surviving but thriving.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Knowing when to say no. It doesn't matter how far into this entrepreneurial journey I get; I still feel rumblings of that feast or famine mentality of being a consultant/solopreneur. It's tempting to say yes to everything that comes your way (because work can dry up at any time), but that is a recipe for burnout. Being consistent with "marketing" activity and setting clear contracts and project timelines have been helpful with pacing - but it's still tempting to say yes to everything and something I work on constantly.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Pay yourself first - before investing in business technology or expensive marketing, create a rainy day fund so that if anything goes sideways (and it will), you are as prepared as you can be. This will also make any less busy times (or the times when you're chasing an overdue invoice) less stressful.
- Do the things that make sense to you and your business - Joining networking and referral groups can be awesome, but they can be a time suck. If, over time, you find that you're just getting pitched over and over and you're not bringing in new business - it's okay to move on (or stay if you really like the people - just be honest with yourself about what you're getting out of it). Conversely, posting every day on every social channel can also take a huge lift - and if that's not where you're bringing in the bulk of your business (or you don't like it), don't do it. Keep track of your activities and double down on the ones you enjoy and that bring you the bulk of your business.
- Remember to have fun - you started your business to help follow a passion and/or build a life (and lifestyle) you love. So make sure you're having some fun along the way. (And if it's been too long since you've had some fun - think about what you need to do to bring the fun back).
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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