Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Natasha Chilcott, Founder of SHOUT Marketing, located in Kelowna, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
SHOUT Marketing is a small group of marketing professionals focused on building robust local economies by working alongside small businesses to help market their products and services to their targeted audience. We build competitive, lead-generation websites and leverage digital platforms such as Google and social media to help our clients acquire warm leads and close more sales. We believe small businesses are the lifeblood of local communities, and our goal is to help as many as possible by strategizing and implementing real strategies that yield real results.
Tell us about yourself
My career started in sales and retention marketing over 11 years ago. A couple of years into it, I decided I had a keen interest in marketing and how it can be combined with sales strategy to build a business. At the time, living in greater Vancouver, I had an itch to travel and decided to take my university studies overseas to Australia. After completing my Bachelor's Degree with honours and working for the university's marketing department, I returned to Canada and settled in Kelowna. At the time, there weren't any marketing positions I found to be particularly interesting, so I answered an ad for a local business looking for some freelance help with marketing. That business ended up being my first client.
I registered a business name and started SHOUT Marketing in 2017, my first year in Kelowna. That first client remains a client today. It may sound cliche, but I find that most of my motivation in this business comes from clients. When I meet people who I truly feel as the best at what they do and who are simply good people, it motivates me to get on board. I love buying into not just a business but its people. I think this is why I love working with small businesses in particular - because I have to feel motivated by that person, their passion for what they do, their customer service, and just witnessing them go above and beyond for their own customers. I love it! Working with good people, wholesome, down-to-earth people who appreciate our perspective and our input, creates a lot of value for me. Getting those phone calls or emails just simply thanking us for a win they had... nothing beats that feeling.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is positively impacting people's lives. My team has been able to help people earn an income with their businesses, put food on their tables, pay their mortgages, send their kids to university, and the list goes on. That's why I love small businesses, because the work you do for them, you see the returns in plain sight. It's not some big corporation padding their dividends; it's people in your local community who are able to take that holiday with their family, expand their business, and provide jobs to others in the community. In addition, being able to employ people, provide them an income, provide them meaningful work, help support their families... there's nothing more fulfilling for me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There are so many learning curves in business. In my five years, I've made a lot of mistakes. I think one of the biggest struggles for me has been to prioritize what to spend my time on as the owner of the business. Growing a business from just yourself to a team that can run the business, whether or not you're there, is really difficult. Personally, it was always a goal of mine to be able to have my team operate independently. I heard someone say that if the business can't run without you, you don't have a business; you simply made a job for yourself. Well, easier said than done! I've always struggled with what comes first, the work to justify the extra staff or the extra staff. Scaling a business is one of the hardest things I have ever attempted!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Most entrepreneurs start businesses without a plan or an appropriate budget. I highly recommend researching and writing a proper business plan. Do your research, understand your customers, define the exact needs or pain points you're addressing for them, and who your competitors are. What are they doing? What is your pricing strategy? Many entrepreneurs start simply because they're good at something, or they 'think' it's a good idea, but I highly recommend putting in the time and research to affirm your decisions. Be sure to budget for marketing, especially in your first year. You'll already be behind if you rely on cash flow to start your marketing. Ideally, you have some capital to invest in a proper website that is built to bring you leads or make sales.
- Invest in yourself. Take whatever courses you can on business administration, networking, etc. Whatever you can do to refine your skills and add value to the business, do it. Understand that you are (or should be) constantly learning, constantly leveling up, making improvements, researching, anything you can.
- Know your limits, and don't try to wear all of the hats. If you don't know how to do something and you don't have time to learn it, hire someone else to do it. You can't do everything, and if you try, you portably won't do a particularly good job at anything and may just burn out. Someone gave me this advice, and I hired a bookkeeper, tax accountant, lawyer, etc., right off the bat. Those decisions have paid for themselves without question.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Find a group of like-minded business owners/entrepreneurs. Being in business can feel really lonely, and it's a complete roller coaster of emotions, topped off with stress and financial instability. Having a group where you can relate, ask questions, get advice, and receive support is invaluable.
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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