SHOULD YOU HIRE QUALIFICATIONS OVER PERSONALITY?
Reshma Chamberlin and Elizabeth Buchanan are the founders of B/C Designers. We asked them for a little Expert Advice:
What advice would you give to someone who feels overwhelmed by the competition? Early on, it can be tempting to compare your business to what other successful firms in your space are doing. But if you’re creating a unique offering, there’s really no competition. Focus on what you’re trying to achieve and your own strengths. That’s the only way you’re going to end up doing exactly what you wanted. Forge your own path.
What top three tips would you like to pass along for those who have just started to use social media? 1: Stick to quality over quantity. 2: Think about the ‘why’ for every post. Don’t just post your take-out lunch for no reason. 3: Focus on the platforms where you are most likely to find your audience or that are the best match for your business and skill set. If you’re not a great photographer with an eye for striking visuals in a design-focused field, for example, then Instagram might not be for you.
When you think of the best people to work with, what traits do they share? The clients that are the best fit for us have an open mind to new ideas, because that’s an important part of what a digital agency brings to the table.
Give a budding entrepreneur your best hiring and firing business practices. It’s key to take the time to find people who fit your work style and office culture. Some people prioritize very specific functional qualifications over personality, but that’s a mistake.
“We know we can mold someone into the type of designer we need them to be, but you can’t teach ambition, drive, and a commitment to excellence.”
Entrepreneurs often say that “you can’t do it all.” What three things do you always outsource? We believe in quality and bringing our unique perspective not only to managing clients but to running our business. As CEO, Reshma has complete control over finances down to the last cent. As CCO, Beth has complete control of our brand look and feel and messaging. If we do outsource anything, it is with guidance and close supervision.
What business book would you recommend to someone who is either about to launch or in the early growth stage? We are big fans of keeping up to date with articles. As our business continues to grow, we don’t have tons of time to read books very often! Everything about marketing, branding, design, and technology is so current, so we’re constantly cluttering up each other’s inboxes with forwarded articles we’ve found interesting. We also have an inspiration board in our office where we post articles and images.
What are your thoughts on raising capital? Venture capital is such a buzz term these days, many entrepreneurs view it as a badge of honor. But in our opinion, building a good business should be the goal. Think about what kind of business you’re trying to create and what resources you need to grow; sometimes raising capital is a fundamental piece in growing a business, but sometimes it may be unnecessary. If you do decide to raise money, think about the individuals or firms behind the check and what they can offer. Capital that comes with expertise is exponentially more valuable than just a check.
What piece of invaluable advice did you receive that you would like to pass on to women pursuing their dream? Don’t fall for other people’s definition of success. Many think business success means a $100 million company; for someone else it might mean traveling the world or raising a family. Create your own definition of what success means for your company, as well as for yourself personally. And don’t give up! The only way to get what you want is to not get discouraged and to create your own opportunities by taking risks.
Our best advice to a woman launching a venture is… There’s no way around it: running a business will take over your life. Our work and life spheres seamlessly weave together, so our work is inspired by our personal lives and we’re constantly thinking about our work in our personal time. That’s what you do when you own a company! But work doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing what you love.
What would your advice to your younger selves be? Working for other people in different industries and for companies of various types and sizes will be invaluable, so appreciate everything as a learning experience. At the same time, be strategic about opportunities you take because you can’t do it all.
Finally, please give us your top five tips that would benefit an entrepreneurial woman launching or growing her business:
- Don’t underestimate the power of a good network of colleagues, mentors, and advocates. Grow and nurture that network.
- Every business these days has a digital component – whether you’re running a completely digital business or a more traditional brick and mortar shop. Make sure you know how the right digital strategy can help you grow.
- Surround yourself with women who inspire you, motivate you, and support your dreams no matter how audacious they might be. Reshma meets with two of her closest friends (one who owns a clothing line and another who has a home goods business) to strategize once a month. They provide frank, honest business support to help each other set goals and stay motivated.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ As you become successful, you’ll be presented with many sparkly and exciting opportunities, some of which will be tempting but not worth your limited time. Learning to say ‘no’ can be the biggest gift you give to your company and yourself.
- Take time for yourself. We struggle with following this tip ourselves! Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day so you can come back feeling refreshed and at 100% efficiency.
Image: [Cami Wade]