10 Years ago I had a business plan. I believed in it so much, that I took it to others and showed them, looking for affirmation that this plan was the right one to take to market.

The feedback was good. Actually, it was more than good. It was great.

The mentors and entrepreneurs that I showed the plan to liked it so much that they wanted to invest. I gave it a lot of thought as to what I needed to take the business forward and decided that a little investment would help get the business to the first stage of growth, so it would not be a bad idea. 

I chose a passive investor, who acted as a mentor but didn't tell me what to do. To be honest, at times I wish he had.

The business model was strong. In fact, I am proving that today. What wasn't strong is my understanding of how to run a startup. My other business Insomnia Marketing and Communication had been successful from the get-go because the brand was built on my capabilities. 

But with Marketing Eye, I was trying to do something different. I was attempting to change the business from being about me, to being a true brand that stood alone.

At first I failed. The first years business results were not as big as the first year in Insomnia. In fact, nothing like it. Yet I had more money, resources and people.

The mistakes I made were evident:
As an entrepreneur, is it possible to finish what you start?

  • I chose people because I liked them, not because they had the ability to get the business off the ground
  • I hadn't found the type of leader I wanted to be at that stage, so instead of showing leadership, I was just 'one of the guys'
  • I wasn't aggressive enough about going to market and only 100% would do. Later I learned that 80% is more than ok
  • I didn't work hard enough at this business and stretched myself too far across multiple investments
  • My product wasn't quite right but the business plan was.
Why my product wasn't right:
  • As a marketing services firm, I was still just providing marketing services - so was everyone else
  • Graphic design and web development were an add-on - when people just want to be charged one fee
  • I sat on my hands too much, not making decisions fast enough
  • I didn't invest in people to the degree people need to be invested in
  • The people I employed loved the good life as much as me - no-one was rolling up their sleeves
  • There were not enough systems, process and technology to scale

But despite all of this, Marketing Eye became successful and today is on track to achieving our second business plan, an extension of the first.

We are market leaders, innovators and the company everyone in SMB marketing wants to follow. In many ways, I had to make all of those mistakes to get to where we are today.

I have said this before and I am sure I will say it again: today we have a team of people, all capable of taking the company forward. They are incredibly talented, work hard yet save time for work, life balance and believe in what we do and the leadership model that we have chosen to run with.

We use a flat organizational structure. It works incredibly well in our business. Our only obstacle with this is when we open a new office. Getting people on-boarded to accept this business model can be difficult as it isn't for everyone.

Right now, I am in the office on a Sunday. Yesterday I was reminded that my 'end goal' will never be completed. Apparently I have been saying the same thing for 10 years now. It's great when people hold you to account. They make you re-think what you are doing and saying. This message refers to the fact that I keep saying that if I finished the business plan, I will feel as though my job is done. But there is always something else to finish in that business plan that hasn't been completed as yet.

A few more books, Marketing Eye school, more international offices (we are already in Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver), a pod. I am getting better and ticking off some key things but there is still a bit to go. The conversation made me think... do I need to leave something on the table for someone else? Or, should I finish everything off like I promised I would?

As an entrepreneur, is it actually possible to finish everything, when new ideas just keep coming up?

This is a constant struggle for me, and I think many others. What do you think?
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

1 comment

  • Paul  Conley
    Paul Conley

    I'm a Non profit blogger, One day a started blogging , and now I can't stop, will we ever stop, What drives the Passion the persistence the Love ,
    I am Fit and Alive at 105 , Healthy , My niche is Fitness ,Health and Well-being, Helping myself now helping others , something to do I guess , unemployed, can't get a job , recovered from a serious injury , Challenged my status Quo Disruptor thinking and been placed as a disability. Where does it all end . Life is too short ,that's why we write . Hopefully people learn from the opportunities that we give.

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