Mandy Davis is the Founder & CEO of Ingrain Social Media, a boutique digital marketing agency & consultancy that works with brands to find their unique voice and connect with people online.
She started out in sales at a young age and quickly found a passion for business and customer relations, but felt like there was often a conflict of interest between the wants of businesses and the needs of customers. Ingrain Social Media was created to fill this gap and train businesses to communicate with their customers in a meaningful way.
In this interview Mandy shares where she got the idea for her business and what drives this entrepreneur at heart to keep pushing forward. Mandy also shows how she manages time and that "Something is better than nothing" if you just follow your goals.
Her advice to entrepreneurs starting a business:
Try contacting someone in the industry you’re wanting to enter and ask to buy them coffee, don’t just try to pick their brain, but come prepared with thoughtful questions that will help you on your business journey.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Mandy and how you got the idea for Ingrain Social Media?
Ingrain Social Media came about in a very ‘round-about' way. Although I studied business in college and had a background in retail management, at the time, I was actually working in the quilting industry as a consultant.
After having my children, I started a business designing and creating custom dresses & costumes. This lead to me doing consulting work for a large pattern designer in the quilting industry. While working with them, they asked me to manage their social media and spearhead some of their marketing efforts, something that I wasn’t sure I was qualified to do at the time.
It turns out that I absolutely loved social media and digital marketing, and found out there was a need for social media management and education for smaller businesses who didn’t have the budget to hire a large marketing agency to manage their account.
What are your visions for your business? Where do you see it in the next 5 years?
It has always been my vision to take Ingrain Social Media in the direction of training and education. I want to empower people and businesses to have the skills they need to be successful digital marketers. My 5 year plan is to launch an online education platform and do nation-wide training events and workshops.
What attitude/habits helped make you successful while starting Ingrain Social Media?
When you’re running your own business, it can be difficult to keep your head up at times. For me, I have adopted the mantra, “Something is better than nothing.” If I just do one thing every day to progress towards my goals, then I know I’m on the right track.
And, those little steps definitely add up to great things over time! As far as habits go, my days are pretty routine, I like to know what I’m doing each day and when. I also write my goals daily and keep a prioritized to-do list.
What was your biggest business mistake and how you did you come out stronger at the end of the day?
A few months in to starting my business, I partnered with a small, local agency. Although I intuitively knew it was the wrong move, and I never felt like they had the client’s best interest at heart, I spent almost a year building accounts under their business and wasn’t able to use that work as examples, even when Facebook wanted to recognize the achievements of one of the accounts.
Although it wasn’t the best experience, my partnership with another agency taught me about trusting my instinct and staying true to myself even if financially it’s tempting to make a deal.
What makes Ingrain Social Media unique from others? How did you find your competitive advantage?
Although we do manage client accounts, Ingrain Social Media specializes in education and training of social media. We work with many businesses in niche industries including trade schools and business organizations to train their students and members how to use social media to build their brand and connect with people online.
Since I’ve always loved teaching, this was a natural progression for me. This business model takes more time to build than account management and it requires more hands-on work , so many agencies aren’t interested in taking this route, which has really worked to my advantage.
How do you balance life and work to remain connected and available for your loved ones? Any advice for me?
As a mom of two elementary age kids and a wife to a husband who also runs a small business, I can attest to the difficulty of finding enough hours in the day.
I often say, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just a matter of how we prioritize them.” You really can’t have it all. But, you can have the things that are most important to you. I work crazy hours and often work in the carpool line at school, whatever it takes to be there as much as I can.
I think you just have to give yourself a break and know that you can’t do everything. You probably won’t be at every field trip or couples BBQ, but maybe you can commit to doing one or two “extras” a month guilt-free.
Your days no doubt can be pretty crazy. What one thing would you say motivates you to keep pushing forward?
I absolutely love what I do! I am a born entrepreneur and would have a very hard time working a “normal job”.
Who has been your greatest influence as an entrepreneur? How did they shape your business?
The greatest influence for me has been my husband, Brett. His unwavering support has pushed me to do the best I possibly can each day while reducing the inevitable fear of failure that comes with running your own business.
Where can we find you to get a consultation for Social Media marketing?
Anyone looking for a consultation can start here.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in Oregon? Where should they start?
- My first piece of advice would be simply: Just start! So many people let fear or excuses hold them back, but you just have to jump.
- In Oregon, there is the Oregon Economic Development Association, a non-profit with departments in most major counties and cities which offer free business advice and services for small businesses. This is a great resource for folks looking for more information and support on their business journey.
- If you’d rather reach out to an individual and get some advice, try contacting someone in the industry you’re wanting to enter and ask to buy them coffee, don’t just try to pick their brain, but come prepared with thoughtful questions that will help you on your business journey.