Lindsey M. Donner [lindseydonner]
What is the business idea that you are working on right now? How did you come up with it?
I own and manage a small marketing/design/writing company, which for simplicity's sake I'll call a creative consultancy. I came up with this idea because it's an industry I love and have many years of experience working in, both directly and indirectly; furthermore, I love the management and operations side of business, so owning my own company permits me to engage at that level as well as delving into the creative side of branding and client work.
Is there a website, blog or social media link where we can see more about your project and/or yourself?
My website is http://www.wellversedcreative.com, and I currently blog at http://www.lindseydonner.wordpress.com (that will soon be migrated to the company website). My Twitter account is @lindsey_donner, and my Brazen Careerist profile is filed under Lindsey M. Donner. You can also read tweets from our team @wvc_ on Twitter, too.
How did the entrepreneurial spirit rise up in you? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship in your family or your social environment when you were a child?
I am the proud daughter of a very successful entrepreneur, who started his own business in his early 20s and has since done over 40 million dollars in sales in the healthcare industry. The idea of being my own boss has always appealed to me, and my father's entrepreneurial spirit was definitely a significant part of my upbringing - although I lagged behind and didn't open my own company's doors until I was 25. Instead, I worked my way through several small businesses and startups and continue to work for another startup (other than my own) today. I find it is an invaluable way to learn hands-on about running a business, management, and of course, it provides an opportunity to work with other talented people!
Describe your business plan as briefly and simply as possible.
Our company's focus is on bringing innovative marketing, design and writing products (in the form of everything from websites, custom blogs, business cards and more, all the way to ghost-writing Twitter and other social media accounts) to small businesses and other creative entrepreneurs.
By keeping our team small and our overhead low, and marketing to clients in-person and via our growing universe of web contacts, we are able to serve clients who are typically unable to afford "professional" branding services. A key part of our business is advisement; many of our clients are uncertain about viral marketing, for example, and we help them understand what is appropriate to achieve their mission in an affordable, attractive and efficient way.
Are you looking for investors? What are you offering in exchange for what?
I am not actively looking yet, but hope to get to the point soon (in volume and necessity) where I can present investors with a highly attractive opportunity.
Do you have employees or people that you outsource tasks to? What do they do?
My principal employee serves as my designer, consultant and primary coder. He is "behind the scenes," whereas I manage him, clients, and overall project load.
Entrepreneurs have a reputation as "control freaks." How do you avoid that?
I constantly evaluate my state of mind and my attitude toward my primary employee. I read up on time management, constantly assure myself that nothing is impossible, and try to maintain perspective by talking to others who are also in business and/or self-employed to see how they manage their controlling tendencies. My best asset is my experience working for other entrepreneurs: I learned both how to manage and how NOT to manage!
How do you balance work with relaxation?
This is easy: always set goals and maintain some sort of project management system (whether it's a Tada.com list or a more sophisticated software solution). When I meet a goal in less time than I expected to, I reward myself with a little free time. This makes it easier, and more attractive, to meet goals in record time!
What is your main motivation: being your own boss, adventure and discovery, getting rich, doing good for others, or is there something else?
Not so much being my own boss as creating my own ideal job. Being rich is quite irrelevant to the big picture, in my case, although I do look forward to the day when I am less cash-strapped.
What do you think of big corporations? Would you work for one?
I have, and I would again. I think a big corporation is fine provided your job is fulfilling and you have a manager who provides you with quality feedback. The reason I have often resisted the "corporate" setting is because it's harder to get noticed and become a contributor if teams are widespread and devoted to more menial tasks; but many large corporations have challenged this perception, and well.
Describe two moments of maximum fear and maximum satisfaction that you have lived through in your business adventure.
Maximum fear: that I wouldn't find a good accountant. Or perhaps the time when we mis-printed a tri-fold brochure and had to scramble to adjust the crops!
Maximum satisfaction: my first big client's ear-to-ear smile, which I could actually hear over the telephone.
When you need guidance or advice, where do you find it?
Depends: friends, father, coworkers, or in some cases, my accountant (a God send) or my attorney!
What do you do to maintain morale and continue persevering in low times?
I think of other people I know who have succeeded. Just picturing their faces or their products (depending on my relationship to them) is a powerful pick-me-up. My confidence is almost always restored.
Are these times of crisis good for beginning a business?
If you know what you're doing, the answer unquestionably is yes. If you have doubts and you're quick to cite the economy, you may want to wait - you'll never succeed if you believe you can't.
What would you call success? Where would you like your business to be five years from now?
I will consider my venture a success when I can afford to pay myself and my people a comfortable living wage, while still doing the work I love. If I am in business in five years, I will be very pleased. Time is an important factor in growing a business; profit is a good indicator that you've done something right!
What skills would you advise a want-to-be-entrepreneur to acquire?
(1) Time management.
(2) A big picture sensibility.
(3) A knowledge of sales and networking.
(4) A sense of adventure coupled with an understanding of risk.
(6) A constant desire to learn.
(7) An inability to be swayed by the small stuff.
(8) A keen sense of people management. Bad motivators and terrible managers either need to quickly scale up and hire middle management, or wait until they've taken a few management courses to open doors to their business if they want to succeed.
Lindsey M. Donner
San Diego, CA, USA