Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Courtney Malengo, Founder of Spark + Buzz Communications, located in Gaithersburg, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Spark + Buzz Communications is a strategic communications consultancy that helps businesses tell their story to inspire audiences and galvanize growth through a variety of branding, marketing, and public relations solutions. While we work with clients in all industries, we are known for our work in senior living, healthcare, non-profits, faith-based, real estate, and women-owned, as well as other entrepreneurs/startups.
Tell us about yourself
I knew that I wanted to be my own boss someday; I just wasn’t sure how I was going to get there. I’ve always had a strong entrepreneurial streak that manifested in childhood hobbies and later side hustles, from lemonade stands and babysitting services to cupcakes and bespoke stationery. After 16 years in a variety of marketing and communications leadership roles, always on deadline and serving as a company spokesperson, I didn’t exactly have the best work-life balance.
My most recent stint prior to launching Spark + Buzz Communications was a decade spent in senior living and healthcare. In that timeframe, there were many significant life events that led up to my decision to ultimately leave, but the most profound one was the birth of my son. I became a mom, and it changed the way I looked at everything. And while I loved my career and the organization I worked for, I didn’t want to choose between my career or my son. I wanted both but realized I’d have to do something different to make that happen.
In January 2019, I launched Spark + Buzz Communications. That reevaluation of what I wanted was the impetus for me leaving my previous job and starting my own venture. The launching of Spark + Buzz fulfilled two core passions of mine – creating the career I wanted and spending more time with my then-infant son. I’m grateful to say that Spark + Buzz just celebrated its fourth birthday, and I’m excited about many more years of telling stories that drive action, engagement, and growth.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think this is a hard category to list just one thing, as arguably, becoming a business owner is a feat in and of itself. However, my biggest accomplishment and what gives me the most satisfaction is helping my clients succeed and elevating their narrative to drive growth. My client’s success is my success.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As an entrepreneur and business owner, you are constantly juggling multiple priorities. When you first start out, you wear all the hats in the business. While it is great for learning and growing, it becomes taxing over time, especially in the areas you’re juggling that don’t play to your strengths. If I end up troubleshooting a technical problem and act as my own IT department, it will eventually get resolved, but not without a significant amount of time and possible frustration on my part. Having your hands in every area of the business is initially exciting, but over time it becomes about growing and adjusting to every new season, deepening your own understanding of the best use of your time and delegation.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The entrepreneurial journey is both thrilling and terrifying—lean into the unknown and trust yourself. Don’t say yes to every opportunity that comes your way; instead, focus on what aligns with your brand and what will help you advance your goals. As the founder or owner, you are the best person to tell the company’s story—don’t be shy about shouting your story from the rooftops and sharing your why.
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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