Based on the true story of an 18-year old company
I started a podcast series called ‘The Agile Entrepreneur’ where I’ll feature one entrepreneur who has gone through the trials and tribulations of starting his/her own business and willing to share their entrepreneurial journey with the listeners in each episode. I wanted to share some profound insights that one of my guests, Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder & CEO of global marketing and branding firm, Mavens and Moguls talked about.
Mavens and Moguls, based in Cambridge Massachusetts, clients include Microsoft, Virgin, the New York Times company, Colgate, Venture back startups, as well as non-profit organizations. Paige graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School.
Embrace new opportunities and don’t be afraid of changes:
Paige talks about two inflection points in her life, the advent of the internet in the late 1990s and the resulting startup opportunities for her and the second inflection point being the economic depression after 9/11/2001 World trade center incident and the opportunity it provided her to start her own company.
Assess your own strengths, skills, and experience and align them with environmental changes:
Paige says “I knew the people, I knew the projects, I had the network, the timing was just perfect for somebody like me to come in and connect those dots and honestly, I never wrote a business plan. I never thought, it just it made perfect sense to me.”
The first 2 to 3 years are the tough years, Persevere through them:
More often than not, second or third year will produce the results. The third year was the breakout year for Paige where Harvard Business School had a couple of case studies on Mavens and Moguls even though she kept growing revenue in her first two years as well.
Your purpose and passion will show you the way to your ultimate success:
Paige says “I feel like I paid my dues for a long time I worked really hard to build my reputation to build my contacts, my network and I saw an opportunity in the market where the stars kind of aligned where I had the right background, the right people, the right projects, the right training.”
Treat each customer individually and independently and this special treatment will pay off:
Paige talks about how she selects her customers and how each of the customers like Virgin and Microsoft are different from each other and how their brand positioning is different.
To compete with big brands with Superbowl like budgets, small firms should focus on guerilla marketing techniques:
Paige talks about the importance of social media and PR especially for small firms as their ROI will be much higher. In her own words “You can be very responsive in real time, build your following to have a direct relationship with your customer and go back to them very cost-efficiently.”
Market validation of an idea based on market research is extremely crucial:
Paige talks about the importance of customer research, market research, market validation and adjusting one’s plans based on actual data and not based on opinions. “You can be very responsive in real time, build your following get you know a direct relationship with your customer and go back to them very cost-efficiently.”
Don’t be afraid to fire employees who are not aligned to the company’s principles, values and culture:
Paige talks about things that she could have done differently such as letting employees go who are not completely aligned with the principles and the culture. She also talks about firing customers who are not aligned to the company culture as well.
In summary, Paige shared these key insights of focusing on the customers as if each one is a special one, validating your ideas in the market place, embracing new opportunities and not to be scared of firing bad clients and bad employees. No wonder, she built a strong company that continued to grow for the past 18 years.