As I celebrate the one-year anniversary of the formation of IRONCLAD Marketing, I can only marvel at the experiences, adventures and lessons of the past 12 months. A year ago at this time, the Tigger in me took a leap of faith believing in a vision and eager to put that vision into practice. As I look back and reflect on the first year, I can sum up my feelings in one word. Blessed. Not the word you expected? It’s the most accurate word I can find. I feel truly blessed. In the past 12 months, I’ve learned more than ever. I’ve been challenged to come up with new ways of doing things — new ideas and business models — and I’ve been blessed with a top-notch team joining in the adventure with me. I’ve built new relationships and grown old ones all while learning from some great minds in business. And the best part is it isn’t over yet. This adventure is continuing! I’m loving my job and am energized with enthusiasm and passion for what I do, the clients I work with and the industry I serve. I will never believe I have learned everything and that’s exciting! It makes every day an adventure and every new client an opportunity not only for business but to engage with other business people in a way that challenges the traditional way of thinking. As much as I feel IRONCLAD Marketing can offer clients, I always believe they can teach us as much or more – that’s what makes it a great relationship. So in the first year, I have learned some valuable lessons that I’d like to share with you.
1. Surround yourself with great minds and seek advice from them. Don’t go in with preconceived solutions and seek affirmation, but really seek out input. Challenging my team to contribute the business plan has been a huge success. We many not always agree, but some wonderful ideas are borne from those disagreements. Likewise, when I speak with clients, I don’t approach them asking questions to which I’ve already decided on the answers. I have a thirst to get their insight, their perspectives and their vision. I seek to know their company and their products. In the process, my firm becomes invaluable to them and they become invaluable to me because they help shape my business as well.
2. Find out what your customers want and give it to them. Seems simple enough right? It isn’t always so. It requires changing the way you’ve always done things and being open to new ideas. Sometimes, it means hearing some blunt criticism. But, in the end you emerge a stronger company with a stronger relationship.
3. You don’t need to have all the answers and you should never think you do. Our relationship with clients is never about us providing the “answers.” It’s more about asking the questions. We partner with our customer, and as such, we don’t dictate solutions, but rather discuss options and work together to build an effective plan.
The list of lessons – big and small – could continue on. Each day, the learning continues and that’s what makes life at IRONCLAD so exciting. Many of you are entrepreneurs who have experienced many challenges. What lessons can you share?