It’s the 24th December 2014, and like many families around the world, we are gathered in one place to celebrate Christmas.
While I don’t necessarily think that Christmas is a good excuse to get together with family, preferring to take the one of day of the year off the calendar and instead spending that time giving to others and serving those less fortunate – I am grateful.
My life is blessed in so many ways and enriched by those around me. I am grounded by family and friends, and always aware that there are people around me that will be there no matter what.
To give you a snapshot: our existing team is highly talented and here for the long haul. They are a mixture of marketers, creatives, branding, web and public relations professionals. Each person is dedicated to being the best they can be - and in return, they are given a highly rewarding career in marketing, PR and graphic design.
I've been challenged for my entire business life by whether or not business is more important than personal life. We all know the answer to that one and as much as we continually tell ourselves that this is the case, it is so easy to be lured into a false sense of security that only business can provide.
I love working. I really do. I wake up in the morning and cannot wait to get to the office. I've matured a little, and don't tend to work on weekends or in the evenings, although I do put in a solid 12 hour day, 5 days a week.
I decided to go and get some water and after much fussing from the staff, who were incredibly dog-friendly, I felt that Pippa would be okay while I walked away. She sat patiently watching my every move and while people were trying to get her attention, her stare remained fixed.
Finally when I arrived back, and she was suitably relieved, one of the young women asked about Pippa and gave her a pat... and then more pats. Pippa couldn't be happier and that opened the door for conversation.
We discussed where we were from, what we do and all the normal things airport conversations conjure up.
The young woman was Ellie Goulding. She was travelling with her school friend and personal assistant Hannah, who was equally delightful.
When you run a business such as mine, it's hard to find time to do everything that you want to do, at the level you would like to do it at. So, I spent some time this morning reading over 50 different marketing blogs and was amazed at the varying levels of content quality.
There have been five writers that have truly stood out in the past few years, and although it would be fair to say that they have the following of the most loyal marketing and entrepreneurial crowd, they also come with thought leadership and strong opinions - which makes for great reading.
The sun was shining through the blinds and as I looked up, I had a moment. It was as if everything stood still. Nothing moved. There was silence.
And yet, there was clarity.
I am packing up my personal belongings to bring them back to Australia with my dog Pippa in tow. It doesn't mean that I am giving up on the US. Actually, quite the contrary. I am increasing my investment in the country and its people, to further drive business success in the region. I am ready to press the accelerator to top speed without a second thought for where the brakes may be.
The buzz that surrounds the Atlanta Technology Village is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur, and visionary, David Cummings. He is a great guy with an even better philosophy. Due in part to the sale of Pardot and his big pay check that followed, he commands the respect of everyone, and rightfully so. He has a formula and if you spend enough time observing him, you will see it. Being a member at the Atlanta Technology Village, I have had the opportunity to see the fruits of his labour and I have to say, I am impressed. To me, he reminds me of Adrian Giles and Andrew Barlow who founded Hitwise and went on to build a tonne of other successful businesses in Melbourne and Australia.
In the past few days I have felt humbled by the number of long emails people have written me in relation to a post that was published on Monday. It clearly struck a cord with many people; in fact tens of thousands.
There are wonderful organisations out there like the Entrepreneur Organisation that help support entrepreneurs building businesses. They provide a network and program of support that ensures that entrepreneurs are not alone. I was in this organisation for many years and saw great benefit in it. But unfortunately, at some point I out-grew it and the partner organisation for those in that boat was very family orientated, and as a single woman, YPO didn't seem to fit. Some people may differ from this opinion, but through my own experiences, I thought that it would only make me realise how unique my situation is.
On top of that, I found for around 10 years, I spent so much time with these wonderfully inspiring entrepreneurs, that somewhere down the track I missed spending time with family and friends.
Then of course, I made some strategic business decisions to catapult my company's growth into new markets, diversifying our offering and creating something that was so unique, that it would be hard to replicate.
Marketing Eye started with investment money. The first few years, we had some tweaking to do, which was stressful, because I wasn't just playing with my money. Bringing a new model into a mature market is just a case of rolling the dice, seeing how they fall and hoping for the best. But I believed in it with all of my heart. I thought I knew something that others didn't and that was that all small businesses need to manage cash flow with no surprises and they all need marketing. This is a formidable combination, capable of allowing small to medium sized businesses the freedom to do what they do, without being held to their next invoice.
There were changes that needed to occur in the business model, but the day we got it right we never looked back. In the time leading up to this moment, I doubted myself, cried myself to sleep because I felt like a failure and constantly put myself in situations where I was uncomfortable. I was stressed off my head and didn't know how to deal with it. No one taught me how to do this. Often, a simple thing that would go wrong, would seem to me like the end of the world. Once, some hackers hacked into our bank accounts and emptied them. I had a public speaking engagement only an hour later. Instead of dealing with it later, I cancelled the engagement. I didn't know what to do and I didn't have the hindsight to know that it could wait an hour or two. It was the wrong choice and something that I now realise was not how an entrepreneur acts. They are supposed to suck it up, put on their good shoes and show the world how things are done.
With these factors in mind, Marketing Eye undertook the challenge to create three very unique website rebuilds.
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