Ask the Entrepreneur: Courtney Robinson Feider
An interview with Courtney Robinson Feider, of adrian + sabine creative services.
What is your business – or your business idea?
I own a business called "adrian + sabine creative services" and my tag line is "matching business with creativity." My goal is to fill a niche between advertising/traditional agencies and marketing departments in order to help businesses expand their creative vision or to help creative people find a positive business path/opportunities to collaborate with mainstream businesses.
Why did you to start it – what is your compelling story?
I'd spent 10 years in the corporate marketing/advertising agency world as a Marketing Administrator (running a department for a pharmaceutical research company) and in various agencies as an Account Services person. I'm also a fine artist, focusing on watercolor and mixed media. I found that my creative side was slowly dying. I was always being pigeon-holed as an "account" person. The future for these roles wasn't as bright as the future as a member of the creative class, expressing a unique hybrid of my organizational and creative talents. I am one of a very rare "breed" of organized and strategic artists.
Starting my own business also allowed me the freedom schedule-wise to become a mother (by coincidence I was surprised by a pregnancy less than a month after starting my adventure). Now I have two "children" - a 6 month old baby, and a 11 month old business!
What are your lessons learned?
Mistakes are part of the process. So is evolution and being comfortable with completely changing course/vision as it's necessary to fulfill ambitions and also succeed. I realized that I need to work at my "highest and best" and to delegate other tasks to contract resources. I am in the process of turning all of my books and invoicing over to an accounting professional.
I know that handing these things to appropriate people will help free up my time to pursue new business and grow my company and opportunities. The more time I spend at "highest and best" the more rapidly my business grows and the happier I am when I come home to my baby and husband.
How are you handling the business part - business plan, marketing, etc.
Business plan is something that I need to revisit and refine. I didn't initially take out financing for my business, so I am just now getting to the point where a record of that plan is really essential. Marketing is my business, so I am lucky in that sense. However, I have stayed incredibly busy by referral only - the upside to doing an excellent job for my clients is being referred by clients and friends everywhere. I work locally, regionally, and nationally, so my opportunities extend well beyond my little community.
I feel very fortunate for the positive "PR." I need to spend more focused time on the accounting side of my business and cost of projected growth. My advice for anyone in shoes similar to mine is to seek outside assistance with these matters.
How do you define success in your business?
Providing customer service at its highest and reaping the reward of being referred to a new person or business by a client who is delighted with my work. That and becoming increasingly profitable, of course.
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to start a business some day?
Dream big, write everything down, get a lot of input from friends/family/associates (but don't take it more seriously than your own opinions), and look for opportunities that cannot be outsourced - like creativity, strategy, services or products unique to you as a person. Find someone great to help with business and marketing planning, and always "audit" your success in terms of your business and it's relationship to lowered stress and balance in your life.
I think business ownership can only truly be successful if it fits into your lifestyle. The support of close friends and family is essential, and I strongly recommend forming a Mastermind group to bounce ideas off of other business owners (http://www.passionforbusiness.com/articles/mastermind-group.htm or Google "Napoleon Hill - Mastermind Groups"). It gets lonely sometimes with no co-workers/peers.
Courtney Robinson Feider, adrian + sabine creative services