Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shannon Hewlko, Creative Director of Roadmap Agency Inc., located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Roadmap, we focus on small to medium-sized businesses looking for 2x growth. We do this by providing an all-encompassing growth strategy that includes sales, marketing, and customer experience supported by the technology needed to optimize their business and thrive. We believe small to medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy, and having the opportunity to support their growth inspires us. Probably because our entire team really enjoys building relationships with people and gets excited by driving and measuring results.
Tell us about yourself
I began my career as a graphic designer and worked at traditional agencies in-house, and supported the start of a creative line of business within a PR agency. All along the way, I freelanced and honed my branding skills. But the commonality between all those experiences was my love of problem-solving, and I found that I thrived when I had the flexibility to create processes that took a deeper look into a business before suggesting any type of creative or marketing solution.
I started my own business about five years ago and developed a lot of the systems and processes that we use at Roadmap today. I partnered with three other individuals in 2020 that brought together the skillsets I lacked alone, such as custom website development, sales planning, business coaching, and technology like customer relationship management systems. We are stronger together, and all share common values like being customer-focused and building long-lasting relationships.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishments have been building processes that work, developing long-lasting relationships with customers and clients, and creating results that help customers grow their businesses while staying profitable. And I feel like that is yet to come! Building a team, mentoring, and helping others to grow and work collaboratively is a work in progress, but when I can take a step back and realize that I’ve helped my team members achieve their goals, that will be a massive accomplishment for me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Leadership may be the hardest part. We become good at what we do by practicing our skills, good at branding, and good at design, for example, but along that path, we start to work with and manage more people, but we don’t necessarily get the training we need to do that. You can read all the books and theories and take courses, but to really foster an inclusive, approachable, and accessible environment is something that evolves and needs time and space to learn and create. I’m working on that one!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Keep track of your numbers. Get a good accountant or bookkeeper; better yet, learn to bookkeep yourself at the start if you have time. If you can become financially literate, it will set you up for success.
- Put your customer first, the most simple exercise you can do is to map your sales cycle from the initial touchpoint (how they hear about you) to when their experience ends, and they become a loyal customer. Make sure every touchpoint you’ve mapped is a well-considered brand experience because any bumps they run into along the way will affect their overall experience with your business.
- Finally, but definitely not the last, is cultivating a positive working environment for all team members.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being an “entrepreneur” is easy. It’s a title that sounds good. Being a kind person who leaves others with exceptional experiences, all while helping them reach their potential - that’s the hard part, and I’d like to find a name for that!
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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