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November 27, 2015 5:35 am

9to5Hell Interview: Starting a Service Based Business

Sauté Creative Co-Founder Talks About Starting A Business, Challenges and Motivation

You go to college, earn your degree and use your degree towards your dream career. That’s what we all hope for anyway. But sometimes what we plan for isn’t what we’re made for.

Meet Michele Steinmetz. She did exactly that. Earned her degree in finance from San Diego State University and started her career in financial services. Michele quickly learned she was in the wrong career. She wanted creative freedom so she shifted her career focus to marketing. From there, she found her passion which blended her creative and analytical skills and co-founded a marketing and branding company for small companies called Sauté Creative.

Michele chatted with Ninetofivehell.com to share her advice on starting a new business, challenges and what keeps her going everyday.

What made you decide to start your own business?

It’s something I always knew I was going to do, it was just a matter of when. It’s rewarding to build something of your own instead of working to build someone else’s dream. I get to create something I’m proud of, do something I’m passionate about and control my future. I get to choose who I’m surrounded with, I’m not tied to a standard 8-6 schedule and I have control over direction, vision and quality of work.

What is your role at Sauté Creative?

My role is the marketing/strategic director and I act as the main point-of-contact for clients. I create all of the solutions and strategies for our clients. I develop marketing plans or marketing initiatives. Day-to-day is a mixture of project management and doing big picture thinking and grow and accelerate brands forward.

How important is it to have a positive company culture?

I think culture is everything. We really believe in branding and it’s the foundation of everything, including culture. Your mission, values and philosophies should be apparent from the bottom up. I think culture drives company morale, productivity and efficiency.

Business Woman And The Concept Of Success

This is my secret recipe with code words to baking an awesome apple pie.

What are challenges of owning your own business?

Wearing all of the hats necessary; It’s not enough to just be a good employee anymore, you have to learn everything you don’t know and then some. Setting expectations; this is important for both clients and employees and is probably one of the biggest challenges for service-based businesses. You need to have structure and policies in place for what you allow and don’t allow. Draw the line. Be patient and don’t try to grow too quickly. Be patient with yourself and know that you will always have challenges or setbacks you need to overcome.

How do you handle an unhappy client?

Be proactive. Hopefully you can foresee a problem but when it gets to the point when you are dealing with an unhappy client, be accountable. If it’s your fault, accept ownership, say you’re sorry and give a plan of how you are going to change or what steps need to be amended. From there, continue to evaluate the situation.

Senior Woman Using Cell Phone

I want it to look amazing, flashing colors, and different. But can you keep it clean and simple?

What motivates you everyday?

Making an impact and helping our clients build their dreams, achieve their goals and knowing we’re apart of their success is so rewarding and motivating.  Also being involved in something great. We work with clients who have shared passions and values, so I’m always so inspired by their stories and what they are doing. Lastly, having fun! We are passionate about what we do and we love doing it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we try to have fun with our clients and throughout everything we do.

Any advice for someone who wants to start a business?

Don’t undervalue yourself. Just because you’re starting out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taken seriously from day 1. Don’t let people take advantage of that and undersell yourself. Be confident in the years of experience and unique expertise you have.

Make your clients the hero. Always deliver exceptional client service and always be of value to your clients. This will turn clients into loyal fans who will ultimately become your sales force. Focus on passion first, then revenue. Stay the course and stay true to who you are. Don’t make decisions based on money or let yourself get derailed by shiny objects.

Don’t take shortcuts. Invest the time and energy into doing the hard work even if it seems like a big investment up front. It is always worth it in the long run. Otherwise, it will always come back to bite you in the ass! Listen to your gut. Partner with complementary companies and engage in affiliate marketing initiatives to expand your reach and spread brand awareness.  Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You can’t please everyone nor should you have to. Narrow your focus and attract the right clients.

Editor’s Note: When starting a business, it’s useful to have your very own marketing team. Here at 9to5Hell, we personally would recommend Sauté Creative as one of your consideration. You get a whole dedicated team for the price equivalent of one employee.

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