Living Out My Dreams: 2 Years Into Business
In 2020, time has stood still, flown by, disappeared, drug on … Yet, on August 1st, 2020, here at Ride the Sail Marketing (RSM) we celebrated two years of being in existence! Quite the business dream come true, really.
I believe in constantly reflecting to see where there are opportunities to grow, adjust, and share to help the next person headed down this path.
I am living MY dream. TBH, and I touched on this last year, it’s not a dream I knew I had, yet in a recent convo realized indeed it was my dream!
When Come Recommended (CR) — the previous company before RSM — wrapped up, I wanted to maintain the things I loved: collaborative team, great clients, as well as flexibility and creativity in work and life. And also improve on some of the things I hadn’t been fully able to embrace: greater flexibility and blurring the line even more on work/life when it comes to my soccer career.
The truth today is, I don’t work at RSM all day, every day.
I am fully consumed in helping grow the Pittsburgh soccer community. I started playing when I was 8, coaching by the time I was 15, and then added the marketing and operations side a few years back. I serve as the Director of Marketing for the Pittsburgh Hotspurs. We’re making big moves and I love being able to contribute my professional non-coaching skills to help us reach goals. Because of how we’ve structured RSM, I am able to fully embrace all of my passions! At two years into owning/managing a business, I feel honored to be able to say that.
So how did I get to this point of living my dream? Here are my end of year two reflections/tips to the world:
Surround yourself with good people.
This was in my year one reflection, and it remains that vital of a lesson it’s here at the top of year two.
Crystal — our visual and editorial director (and my sister) — fully embraces keeping the wheels turning if I head to the fields early for a soccer session on a Tuesday. She has ideas. She challenges me. She is my sister, so of course, she tells me when I’m wrong. 😉 She also fills in the words and thoughts and ideas when I can’t figure them out.
Kayla — who just finished two years with us and is now setting sail on a new adventure — works expertly in a collaborative environment filled with Marco Polos brainstorming sessions. And she just as expertly independently runs with concepts and ideas and builds them into magical stories.
As a team, we’ve all been able to help each other live the professional and personal lifestyles that we want.
On the other side, my soccer colleagues are my friends. They know I split my time. They are flexible when I have client meetings or just need it to be an RSM day. They genuinely check in on how RSM is doing and will help me sort anything I need around my schedule — and I’ll do the same for them.
It’s important to have good people around you at all times. The biggest ‘dream’ we’re all working toward is a happy, impactful life.
It’s who you know.
RSM started with just three of us in full-time roles. Within weeks of launching, a team of freelancers joined the ranks. These were former colleagues that we knew and trusted. Many of them are still working with us now two years later. They’ve not only helped shape our path personally, but they’ve also referred us colleagues and clients.
Our clients have referred us to new clients without any incentives being offered.
Former clients have circled back to us after starting new companies.
Former CR teammates have referred their new companies to us.
Business networking folks have sent freelancers and potential clients our way.
This is a business dream come true. No doubt, the biggest part of ‘who you know’ is the relationships you build. Make sure you actually attempt to ‘know’ the people you encounter.
Imposter syndrome is a constant.
While RSM is only 2 years old, I’m heading into year 9 of my career. At this point, I should have far fewer doubts, fears, ‘umm, what’ moments about my own abilities, than when I started, right?
Imposter syndrome is a real-life constant even after you have years of experience under your belt. For me, it’s accepting that doubt will creep in and embracing that when it does I can simply do some research, reflect back on what’s worked in the past, learn something new, and stomp the cycle out. At two years in, I definitely still have that ‘ahh’ moment from time to time. I just choose to keep believing in myself when it does sneak up on me!
Do more than asked.
I LOVE to sleep. I feel like all I do is talk about sleep sometimes. As I get older, I realize I do need more sleep than I used to. But the catch, I LOVE helping people. I have built the solid relationships I have with clients and peers by trying to do just a smidge more than I’m asked to do. So, I miss out on some sleep.
ICYMI: A pandemic is happening. Marketing and recreational sports aren’t really equipped to survive a recession. Yet, I’m surviving. I’m looking for ways to do more for the people and businesses I know and care about. And it’s paying off.
At RSM, we have retained all of our core clients through the pandemic.
I recently had my annual meeting with the director of our soccer club, a good friend of mine. As we were reviewing the past year, he actually asked me to scale back a bit on ‘doing more than asked’ based on the concern of potential resentment and burnout and the club needing me, so he wants to make sure that doesn’t happen. <Note: That’s a heck of a boss thing to say.>
Following that ‘scale back’ point however, he presented me with a great opportunity with our Adult First Teams in the coming year. That opportunity, I believe, is partially related to the fact he saw me do so many of the things that are needed to run those teams by my ‘doing more than asked.’ So a million times over, I’d do them all again.
Plan and plan and plan some more. Then throw it out.
It’s fun to look at my year one reflection AFTER I wrote this full post and see how many reflections crept back in with a year more ‘wisdom’ behind them.
There was a recession predicted in 2019 to occur here in 2020 — my second year in business and I needed to prepare to pivot and ensure survival. Then … a pandemic hit first?/instead? …
Before year-end, I worked with clients to finalize the 2020 marketing strategies. By mid-Feb, the plans were pointless.
The plan I had started to implement to grow RSM … it was thrown out.
The plan I had to survive a likely 2020 recession was accelerated.
And then all of those plans got adjusted.
If I learned anything in 2020, it’s that I’m going to be pretty dang good at communications and marketing planning in the next pandemic I encounter. Which leads me to the last tip …
Trust the unknown and new ways.
As the world settled into a new norm, I realized the pandemic actually might help RSM in the long run in a weird, twisted way.
Like most small businesses, potential clients are not knocking on the door. Only in the past few weeks have the emails peaked open with some of the new business conversations that were paused in February, but the pivot isn’t ours at all. It’s a whole new market that now could be opened to us.
We’ve always known you can build relationships and function as a collaborative workforce 100% virtually. We’ve always known that we don’t need to be in our client’s office to be really good at what we do and help them reach their goals. Some, however, could not wrap their head around that concept. In early conversations, they’ve requested we come on-site. Often, these were proposals we had to walk away from. Now, however, the world can see the possibilities.
Others trusting those unknown and new ways of doing business might make it so that year 3 me starts loving sales! … we’ll see. My business dream keeps evolving, and it just keeps turning into me living the dream, so it’s not outside the realm of possibilities this time next year!