So time flies and we have arrived at that time of the year again. For business owners and entrepreneurs, this is that time of the year where we need to start to take a hard look at our business for the past 10 months and plan for the year ahead.
For those who do not know, when I started writing this column, my business was two years old, which is why I named my column, Starting Out.
That was more than two years ago. Now, my marketing and PR services business is approaching its fifth year. The company has come far from that one-woman outfit in 2010, with me operating out of my study in the initial months, and a rather accidental entrepreneur.
In the past few years, we have grown and matured — not rapidly but organically. The team is still small, but we now have a nice big office, a steady base of clients (many of them referred by existing or even past clients) and of course, most importantly we have been profitable every year.
Yes, we have our challenges too, the ups and downs, the lows and the mad seasons, but we pulled through every time.
In retrospect, the only reason we can come this far is because of a no-nonsense commitment to deliver good work.
My clients will tell you that they come to us not because we are the lowest priced or the one with the bigger team. We are probably also not the one with the most intelligent minds. Yet they saw something in us a willingness to work alongside them, to ensure they get good results and as how one client puts it: take a real interest in her company’s business as though it is our own.
But now as the business enters its fifth year, we have come to a crossroad. I recall when I started the company, I came up with a five-year plan for the company.
By God’s grace and some hard work, we have somehow managed to meet many of the milestones in that five-year plan. There were a few misses and a number of changes but mostly we are on track. Now, it is thinking about how that next five years will be and should be.
Those who know me will know that I am not the type who likes to rest on my laurels and go along with business as usual. To me, merely surviving and staying afloat is not enough. It is about how we can move on to the next level. But here lies the dilemma. As a company that provides outsourced marketing and PR services, primarily to the business-to-business (B2B) IT industry, we have a distinct advantage of being one of the few external marketers who understands this market.
You see, my company’s advantage comes from me having worked on the other side of the fence – having been a marketing head myself in an technology MNC before I started out. This is like outsourcing your accounting work to a former accountant who has worked in a company like yours. Your service provider understands your perspective better, having been in your shoes. As one of my clients puts it, it is hard to find another person with my knowledge (thus making the barriers to entry in my type of business very high). The dilemma is now, how do I find another me?
In order to grow more rapidly, I will need to find more people like me. The market we are serving (primarily B2B companies) is a large and untapped one. Many marketing and PR service providers shy away from this type of companies because their offerings are not easy to understand. And the reason why I am serving this market is also because of the Blue Ocean Strategy — reaching a market where there are few competitors. To me, the market potential is huge.
My dream is to build a consortium of thought-leaders and consultants who are like me or, better, who can continue to serve this market and carry on the dream. But which way should I take to accomplish this? That is my crossroad.
> Jeanisha believes things only happen if we make themhappen. If you are someone who wants to make what she talked about a reality as well, write her at email@example.com
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