Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Raechel Lambert, Co-Founder of Olivine Marketing, located in Miami, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Olivine is a product marketing consultancy for B2B software companies. We help with positioning, messaging, product launches, and sales enablement. Our clients range from early-stage startups all the way to publicly traded enterprises on the Fortune 500 list, including Meta, ServiceNow, and Twilio.
Tell us about yourself
Growing up, we didn't have a lot of resources, and I never ever imagined I would make good money and run my own business. When you work in tech, you see a lot of entitlement around you because people have wealthy parents and went to impressive schools, and while that certainly helps, it's not a requirement to be successful.
I studied finance in college since that seemed like the most sure-fire way to get a job, but I'm a creative person at heart, and I was never in "flow" at work. After working in custodial finance in Boston for several years, my husband read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, and then I did too. We both decided to move to San Francisco to break into tech (he was a mechanical engineer and is now a data scientist).
After getting a finance/operations job in tech, I slowly realized marketing was where I should be. I landed a product marketing job at Intercom, where I launched two products. That really springboarded my career, and I finally found the work I wanted to do. After a short stint as head of marketing at a fintech startup, I realized it wasn't a good fit, so I broke out on my own to freelance. I assumed it would be temporary, but I really enjoyed it and was making more money than when I worked in-house.
A long-time friend and former co-worker was also working as a consultant with her agency Olivine, and we merged to grow it. That was back in 2018, and now we've built out a team of about 15.
What motivates me is getting to do creative work with incredible people. Even the stressful product launches are a blast, and I love working with super technical products. We've had the opportunity to work with very cool products and well-known brands, including ServiceNow, Meta, and Twilio (plus a whole bunch of awesome startups that no one has heard of YET).
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
What most people are impressed by is that Olivine has scaled to over $1.5M in annual revenue and has healthy margins. The tough business cycles of COVID and now this 2022/2023 recession has been difficult to navigate, but we're surviving and setting ourselves up for long-term resilience.
But my proudest accomplishment is that we've assembled a global team of incredibly kind, interesting, and smart people who seem to genuinely enjoy working at Olivine and with each other. We all spend a lot of time at work and enjoying what we do and who we do it with, which has a huge impact on our well-being, so I'll always be grateful to the Olivine team for choosing to work with us (they could go anywhere!).
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Staying focused is the hardest part of being a business owner. Tons of opportunities and clients come your way, but you have to keep your eye on the long-term strategy and not get distracted by small stuff that seems productive but is just busy work (i.e., taking clients that are too small or out of your segment, saying yes to conferences that aren't the right target audience for you)
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get a handle on your finances. Being cash-poor leads to poor choices that compound. Take the time to understand invoicing, getting paid, managing cash, and paying taxes. Reality is your friend, and getting your revenue and expenses under control is the only way to run a healthy business.
- Be clear about what you do and what you don't do. Saying yes to everything will mean no one knows what you do well — being really good at a specific thing is how you will scale and increase your margins. Riches in niches!
- Don't work with jerks. It's just never worth it. They will make you hate your job and will suck up all your energy, distracting you from working with great people on great projects. Worse, they can burn out your best performers. But see tip number 1. Easier to say no to jerks if you aren't desperate for revenue.
If you're not sure what to focus on, I recommend an exercise in "Ikagai" — a Japanese framework for finding your reason for being, which lies at the intersection of what you are good at, what you can be paid for, what you love, and what the world needs.
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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