Question: What is the name of your business?
Your Answer: Advertising with Small Budgets for Big Results
Question: Where is your business located (city & state)? Who are the customers you serve? What products or services does you company provide?
Your Answer: I'm in Seattle, and I work with small businesses here and across the country. Many are publishers of nonfiction book who need help identifying what distinguishes their books or their subjects, and putting together promotional campaigns that make sense given limited time and dollars.
Question: When did you start your business? Why did you decide to start your own business?
Your Answer: My first book on small business marketing was published in 1982, and by that time I was already doing workshops for small businesses and nonprofits. I got started because I was aghast, I mean truly aghast, at what small businesses were being snookered into spending on advertising and other promotions that were unlikely to pay off. Or the business owners didn't know how to follow up on the promotions to increase the changes of making a deal. I published my own books between 1990 and 2002, and began working with other book publishers in that era. I also write for the monthly published by the Independent Book Publishers Association, and my assignments for it have introduced me to all sorts of promotional opportunities. One significant one: QR codes. They're free to create! And they allow signage, small ads and brochures to lead prospective customers to so much more information.
Question: Did you quit your "day job" to start your business? How did you initially fund your business?
Your Answer: I got started with the workshops when I was a graduate student. The direct mail campaign (yes, postal mail---this was pre-Internet) for my first workshop served as the basis of a paper for my advertising course! I've always self-funded my business.
Question: What has been the biggest challenge in running your company?
Your Answer: I'm no different than most small business owners: cold calls are a challenge. It's hard to find the right contact and then pick up the phone to try to sell yourself.
Question: What’s been the biggest opportunity that came from owning your business?
Your Answer: Flexibility! And I've met such a wonderful variety of people.
Question: What has surprised you most about being your own boss?
Your Answer: When I was a corporate manager, SOMEONE ELSE handled IT. I didn't even know how to work a fax machine, much less upgrade software.
Question: Is there a success tactic you’d like to share that could help other business owners (i.e. implementing new software, tactic to grow sales, etc.)?
Your Answer: To paraphrase a Biblical maxim, you reap what you sow. If you're not doing something every day to sustain the momentum of your business, you're apt to be in trouble. Small business owners have to be "on" 24/7: the contact you make at a child's soccer game, or at the grocery store, or when you're standing in line at FexEx Office may turn out to be a valuable lead.
Question: What’s the best piece of advice you could give to other small business owners?
Your Answer: Understand what the costs, schedules and requirements are of everything you contract for before you sign on the dotted line. For example, if you're creating a product that has to be retailed, know how you're going to get distribution, and what discounts you'll have to give wholesalers or distributors. Also recognize that ours is a very cluttered and fragmented marketplace, and simply uploading a website is not going to sell your product or service. People aren't going to find you on their own; you have to be proactive in reaching them.