That is 10,220 days and 1,344 weeks. During this time, I experienced the death of MTV, the release of the first cell phone, the rise of social media/share culture and the beginnings of Super Savers, now known as Home Direct of Augusta, my direct mail advertising company.
When I first started in the advertising industry it was the late 90’s, men’s shorts became longer, Walkmans and cassette tapes were abundant, and power suits were a thing. The advertising company I worked for was Jones Intercable’s Cable Coups, a franchise coupon magazine, located in Augusta.
By 1994, I caught what I call Augusta’s infectious spirit of entrepreneurship. Inspired by the budding business community in Columbia County, I started Super Savers, a magazine made for my community, by my community. Super Savers was filled with local restaurant coupons, community events and local notices. Growth was inevitable as the CSRA, (Central Savannah River Area) grew to accommodate the budding economy. In 2002, we added TV branding awareness campaigns to the marketing mix which offered customizable marketing solutions for any local business. Through the years, Super Savers became Home Direct and we have added even more products and services for our clients, but still our mission hasn’t changed – Home Direct creates affordable advertising solutions for small to medium businesses.
Time marches on and I have learned many lessons along the way. Creating and maintaining a business is both rewarding and the single hardest thing I have done in my life, (other than raise two kids). According to my wife, “the only thing more overrated than owning your own business is natural childbirth!” I have to agree with her on that one, but take it from me, there are five important things you need to remember if you are thinking about starting and running your own business.
1. Always keep your ear to the tracks. This may be an old saying, but it is still relevant today. Whatever industry you’re in and however successful you become, pay attention to the new, fresh ideas. Some ideas work, some won’t and some may not even be worth trying, but always remember to trust your gut. Don’t become complacent.
2. Invest in the right people. Good employees are hard to find, loyal ones are even harder, but if you take care of your people, treat them like family – reward their triumphs, celebrate their milestone, and share their sorrows, you will find the good ones that stick around. My own success is largely, 25% my wife’s patience, 25% my hard work and 50% loyal employees.
3. Remember your mission statement. Be consistent with it and have a process in writing for when your direction may become hazy. When times are tough, return to your mission statement, remember your purpose and get back on track. There may be times you may have to add technology, add or subtract positions, and revise some current objectives, but you should never have to revise your mission.
4. Be honest with your customers. This lesson is usually the hardest. I was once put in a bind by a trusted colleague. Their excuse for their actions was, “don’t take it personally, it’s only business.” To which I replied, “my business is personal!” Too easily we forget the relationships we create, the networks we forge as a business grows, we get caught up in the momentum of deals and opportunities, forgetting what is really important. Always follow through on your promises and be honest. Remember, “mean what you do and do what you say”. It’s a matter of respect.
5. Believe in what you do. I started my business based on a need. I saw a demand for affordable marketing solutions that fit the budgets of small to medium companies. That said, my entire mission, direction and future is built on a vow I make to every client, “we get our clients guaranteed results”. I believe in what I do, and I stand by my promises, because in turn – I believe in them.