My oh my, how time flies! It feels like only yesterday Brainchild Studios was born, but in reality, it was legally, exactly one year ago today! A lot can happen in a year and this first year was a big one for us, so I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the amount of growth that has happened over this short 365 day time span.
How We Grew Our Business in The First Year
- We grew from a team of five to a team of 29. Finding the right team is always tricky. However, we have pulled together an amazing team to support our clients. Our first priority was making sure our Account Management team was strong, both in their strategic vision for our clients' businesses as well as their technical skill set to communicate between the clients and our internal teams. Then we focused on growing our team of designers, developers, SEO strategists and writers. Now we're at the point where we're focusing on internal positions to streamline our processes and create more efficiencies.
- We grew from one client to 22 (and growing rapidly). Getting that first client is always difficult, however, we were lucky from the start. Our first client quickly became our first and second client and in the last 12 months, we've averaged about two new clients a month. That's just the beginning! We're hitting our stride and have been bringing in more and more business over the last few months!
- We expanded our services to include content marketing strategy, blogging, local SEO, social media and social media video. Most of these service expansions were internal, however, we made a deliberate decision to partner with our, now, sister agency, ALX Creatives, to offer social media services to our team. Through this partnership we are able to offer access to an entire team of social media experts to our clients. Additionally, our client turned partner, Social Snacks, has been the powerhouse behind our video production arm.
- We've been published multiple times. I was interviewed by Voyage Chicago, Social Snacks and have also become a Content Marketing Co-Chair and contributing writer for Women Tech Founders. I've also recently become a mentor at 1871. And that's not it, there's more in the works!
- We launched our blog. Content is king. Quality content is king. Quality content that can be indexed and crawled is the biggest and baddest king of all. We launched our blog in the summer of 2017 and have been producing new content on a regular basis. A big thank you to all of our contributors as this was a huge initiative for us and we are very proud of the content we're releasing!
As all entrepreneurs know, the road of entrepreneurship is a rocky one, filled with many dead ends, wrong turns and one-way streets. If you're a business that is looking to gear up and pick up speed or in the middle of a big growth spurt, here are a few pieces of advice I will happily lend you from what I've learned over the last year starting and running my own company.
Lessons Learned in The First Year Of Business
- Not every prospect should be a client. My friend and mentor, Andy Crestodina, from Orbit Media shared a wise piece of advice with me a few months ago when he said "Help clients disqualify you. Not every prospect will be a good fit." He was right. Over the last year, I've learned to better identify new business opportunities (partnerships, vendors, contractors, clients, etc.) where both parties are confident that us working together is a good fit. It's a hard piece of advice to abide by as a new company, but he hit the nail on the head.
- Don't put the success of your business in the hands of anyone other than yourself. Ultimately, when you're running a business, the success and failure of that company is entirely in your hands, or at least it should be. Don't ever put yourself in a position where someone else has enough power or information to taint or harm your company. Unfortunately, in a lot of ways this means you have to be weary of trusting people too much and too quickly, but that comes with the territory. Not everyone will have the best interest of your company at heart, be aware of that and be prepared to address it.
- Not everything is a priority. We're each just one person, right? As an entrepreneur, it's easy to forget that sometimes. Everything can't be a priority because that statement alone is contradictory. Prioritize. Focus on things that will have the biggest impact on your business first and, if you're lucky, you'll be able to delegate smaller things to the really talented, trustworthy team you've hired. But focus. Otherwise, you will fall flat on your face and be buried by to-do lists.
- Be prepared for highs and lows. One thing I've said a number of times now is that the road of entrepreneurship is filled with very high highs and very low lows. Be prepared for that. Whether it's surrounding yourself with an incredible support system, financially padding your bank account to brace for low revenue months or splurging a little bit on happy hour to celebrate signing a big new client with your team, be prepared for the good and the not-so-good.
- Don't undervalue yourself. For those of us Type A personalities, this is a difficult pill to swallow at times because we are always pushing ourselves to be better, do more, and questioning our overall value because of these ambitions. However, undervaluing yourself, your time, your knowledge and resources can be detrimental to your business. If you set the precedent that your time is plentiful, your prices can always be negotiated down and you find that you're making significant sacrifices to gain new business, ask yourself if you actually want that business. Again, is this the right fit? Are you being valued in that relationship? The answer should always be "yes."
- It's all about people. This is actually a life philosophy I adopted years ago, but it is 100% applicable to running a business. The foundational success of a company lies in the relationships built between people. People who work for you. People who you work for. People who brainstorm together. People who build brands together. It's all about people. Take care of the people who are investing back in you. It's an absolute must.
One year later, this is what I've learned and this is where we've grown the company. This year has been one of the most difficult and rewarding years of my life, but all in all, it's been pretty amazing. Thank you to everyone who has supported Brainchild Studios in this last year and all of those still to come. We are so grateful for your support and we look forward to continuing to produce products we're proud of, with a team of incredible talent for businesses we enjoy helping to build!
Founder & CEO
Kiley Peters is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a boutique audience research, content strategy, and website creation agency primarily serving brands targeting Millennial Moms or business owners. She is also the Founder of the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurial moms through the steps of starting a virtual business. She also launched the Brainchild Fund, a nonprofit initiative to support women and girls in business and entrepreneurship Follow her on Instagram.more posts by Kiley →