“Get a Mentor” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Carnett, CEO and President of Marketing Maven, a bicoastal integrated marketing firm…

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Carnett, CEO and President of Marketing Maven, a bicoastal integrated marketing firm specializing in public relations, social media and influencer marketing. Lindsey recently received the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, was a 2017 Top Woman in Public Relations from PR News and a 2015 FOLIO Magazine Top Woman in Media Award Honoree. Her firm, Marketing Maven, was on the 2017 Inc. 5000 List of “Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in the US,” as well as the 2016 Entrepreneur 360 List of “Most Entrepreneurial Companies in America”.

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

After working at a boutique PR agency, Marketing Director at a publicly traded Swedish biosciences company and starting a PR division for a multi-million-dollar Los Angeles-based advertising agency, I founded Marketing Maven. The 3-hour round-trip commute and cubicle life was not where I wanted to be spending my time. My husband said I had three months to make it work or I’d have to get a “normal” job. With this is mind, I approached my previous vendors from when I was a Marketing Director and quickly offered to be a resource to them for any clients they could send my way. That’s where I learned the value of building and keeping relationships and not burning bridges.

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Marketing Maven stands out because we understand analytics due to my experience in the world of advertising. Many PR agencies are only concerned with securing a quick piece of editorial coverage but don’t understand how it impacts the business they are securing it for. At Marketing Maven, we can analyze the web traffic to see what coverage gets the most qualified customers to purchase. An example is a Norwegian furniture company that launched a $5,000 chair in the US market. The client thought it would be media coverage like Architectural Digest that would drive the highest number of sales. However, we discovered Gizmodo was more effective in driving online sales because the tech crowd thought these would be cool gaming chairs and they were willing to spend big money on them!

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Yes, we are seeing a lot of growth in the crypto currency space. One of our clients that meets our core value of being futuristic is called Crypto Exchange Ranks. They are like the Dow Jones of the crypto space. They measure and rank how secure a particular token is. This is helpful not only for the token company to improve their level of security, but also for the investors so they are certain that the token they are investing in has the lowest likelihood of being hacked.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Good to Great. I am always looking for ways to make my team better. Sometimes that means asking members to exit the bus after they have ridden the bus for too long. We recently updated our core values because we know that’s what will get us to the next stage of growth. Now we are focused on:

a. Futuristic (i.e. embracing innovative technology, developing new services to better serve our clients)

b. Growth mindset

c. Mindshare (i.e. collaboration)

d. Client-centric

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Get a mentor. The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” is the truth and it helps to talk with someone who has gone through the ups and the downs of being an entrepreneur to reinforce the mental fortitude necessary to stick it out and charge forward another day.

2. Get a business line of credit before using your personal credit card. I thought a loan was a dreadful thing until my CPA asked me why I was paying such high interest on my personal credit cards to take care of business expenses. May times you can get a SBA loan through your bank that will cost you a lot less than interest on your personal credit cards.

3. Spend the extra money on business attorneys for your agreements. Unfortunately, sharks will try to take advantage of you due to your age and lack of familiarity with agreements and lack of experience negotiating. With a clad-iron agreement, you can let them know you mean business and won’t let yourself be put in the position to be taken advantage of.

4. Invest in a bookkeeper to keep track of your finances. I completely ruined a whole year’s worth of financials when I first got started by not getting the proper training and trying to enter everything myself. I had to pay my CPA to redo my financials for 12 months so he could do my taxes accurately. It would have been far more cost-effective had I hired a bookkeeper to keep records for me.

5. Look for free business resources. For example, SCORE and SBDC are available to new business owners for help on developing business strategies. I wish I had learned about these during the first few years of owning my business.

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would want to meet with Arianna Huffington. She’s an innovator and executes to make her ideas a reality. She’s the ultimate content marketer having achieved remarkable success with Huffington Post and now with Thrive Global. I feel like she’d be open to collaboration and innovation that could be mutually beneficial for our respective businesses.

Jean: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

– Published on June 27, 2018

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