Lorraine Ball walks the line between professional and maverick like she walks the Monon. She functions on a strict diet of Italian food and art, serving as the marketing head of Indy Fringe and president of the One-Woman Society of Museum Addicts.
In this Startup Savant interview she shares her biggest pieces of advice, how she got started, and how you can bring your business idea to life. Follow her on Twitter @lorraineball.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur? When did you first get bit by the entrepreneurial bug?I spent the first part of my career in corporate jobs. Even in those roles I found ways to be entrepreneurial, pitching skunk works projects outside our normal scope. Being able to run a project where I had complete control of the outcome, hitting very specific metrics was always a fun challenge for me.
What does your business do that makes it better than the rest? In other words, what is your competitive advantage and how did you find it?At my core, I am a teacher. Whether I am mentoring employees, or training our clients how to take control of their marketing, I enjoy watching the "light bulb" go on. Creating programs and websites based on strategy and then teaching clients how to build on what we create is our strongest competitive advantage.
What does a typical day look like for you? Is there something you make a point to do each day?10 business phone calls every day. Those conversations may be with clients, prospects, peers or potential employees. In the age of the internet, there is so much you can accomplish if you are willing to pick up the phone and just talk with someone.
What is the biggest business mistake that taught you a powerful lesson? Would you mind sharing how it made you the person you are today?17 years ago I put together my first web promotion. I was still in corporate at the time. The promotion looked great on paper, drove lots of traffic and interaction with the website, but we didn't generate any revenue.
The mistake? We forgot who our customers were. We built a campaign to generate traffic and attracted a lot of young men ( age 18 - 25) instead of our target audience, ( women 55+). The lesson? Always start with the customer.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.The people. My customers and employees who count on me to bring my A game every day.
What trait would you consider made you the best person and professional you are today?Curiosity. I love learning new things. That interest has taken me, and Roundpeg in so many different directions over the years. Some have worked out exceptionally well some were glorious failures. Sometimes it is the failures which taught me the most that then put me on the path to my next success.
What are the top success tips that you would give anyone starting a business?
- Find a core team of people who will be honest with you and bounce ideas off them regularly. Ideally they won'b be directly involved in the business to give you that outside perspective.
- Don't be afraid to fail. Things will go wrong, when they do ask yourself what you can learn from the experience and apply next time. Also, if something isn't working let go. Don't keep driving in the wrong direction because you have already invested time and money. It is ok to cut your losses and move on.
- Not all clients are good clients. It is hard to turn down a customer or a project in the early stages, but the sooner you get a feel for who you want to work with, and the type of work you want to do, the sooner you will begin really enjoying what you do. Firing a client opens the door to the next opportunity.
- Take vacations, even short ones. If your business can't survive without you, you don't have a business you have a job.
Are you using any apps that help you stay on track from day-to day?Insightly for both CRM and Project Management, Google apps for email and calendar, Box.com for file sharing, Megalytic for Reporting, Hootsuite and Buffer for social media management.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?Looking forward to celebrating 20 years in business with a talented and enthusiastic team. I want to be more selective about who we work with and the kinds of projects we take on. I want to see my team members take on more leadership roles, to allow me more time to focus on business development, and maybe even a bit more time off.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business today? Where should they start?There are so many great resources on line and off. Do lots of research, network with a lot of people, talk to as many business owners as you can. Check out Score, the SBDC, the Chamber and Rainmakers for seminars and resources, and of course check out www.roundpeg.biz/resources.