You will never be ready, so go before you’re ready. It’s important to be prepared but work towards 80% ready and launch. You’ll never launch perfectly. It’s better to launch and learn. I did this with my first online course. While it financially wasn’t my most successful endeavor, I broke even and learned a ton.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jen Naye Herrmann.
Jen Naye Herrrmann is a ’40 under 40’ brand marketer turned content creator and marketing strategist. In 2015, she started a blog and grew a social media following. Three years later, she left her corporate world to take on brand partnerships and social media consulting. In 2020, Jen took her marketing consulting career to the next level and launched The Marketing Greenhouse with a close colleague.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My great-grandfather started one of the first grocery stores in Little Italy in Chicago. My grandfather owned a tax planning business. My mom owns a tax planning business. Starting my own business felt like an itch I couldn’t scratch for most of my time in corporate America.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Coming from corporate America, the toughest part was learning how to operate without resources. Everything is self-funded and self-propelled. The hardest part about the first few years of an entrepreneur is determining boundaries for investment of your time and money.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I’ve always seen a vision for the future and it keeps me going. I think about all of the ‘hard days’ I have in the bank and it propels me forward knowing that easier days are ahead. I also love to read about success stories or listen to them on podcasts like How I Built This.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Today I have a much better understanding of my capabilities and my worth. Every day is easier than the last. 2020 was tumultuous as business dried up over night when the pandemic hit. I immediately shifted my focus to areas that I wanted to focus, but didn’t have the time. I stayed busy and continued to build for the future knowing the pandemic would let up. By Q4 2020, business was flowing steadily again and we rebounded for the year. Part of the reason for our rebound was listening to business and following the right leads. You have to pivot to where the people are.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Both Jessie and I come from entrepreneurial backgrounds. We understand what comes with that lifestyle and we treat our clients like family. There is no task above us or below us. We roll up our sleeves and get the job done the right way.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Know when you need to take breaks and know when you’re working on fumes. I know first hand that it’s hard to step away. Often, I’ll take a 30 minute break to workout and see if that reinvigorates me. If not, I know it’s time for a break. Taking on my work refreshed is more efficient and effective.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are 3 people who stand out to me for different reasons. My mom is always my sounding board. As an entrepreneur herself, she gets it. When the days are hard, I know I can call her for a shoulder to cry on. My dad is always my reasonable business sounding board helping me to sort though my crazy ideas and revenue model assessments. My husband is my rock. He is there for the day to day. He supported me even when he thought it was crazy to leave corporate America. He always trusts my judgement.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m focused on fueling more female entrepreneurs in addition to creating impactful strategies. Every month I offer donation-based advising for 1 hour. People can join me for a small donation and I offer a complimentary advising.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Believe in yourself and don’t worry about the rest. Starting a business is such a vulnerable experience. It’s hard for people to believe in your ideas and see you as an entrepreneur. You have to believe in yourself more than others and trust your gut. When I first started, I was crushed with every puzzled look. I need others to believe in me or so I thought. I ultimately realized believing in myself was so much more important than anyone else believing in me.
- Spend time networking and helping others — it comes back in return. I was so mindful of ‘not working for free’ that I tried to charge what I thought was my rate right out the gate. While you don’t want to be taken advantage of, every pro-bono and discounted opportunity has led to more work for me and great referrals.
- The average overnight success is 6 years. When I first started, I thought I’d be a big success inside of 12 months. That’s what you read about, right? Wrong. It takes years to build credibility and a viable business. I wish someone told me to readjust my expectations and go with the flow.
- No one knows what they’re doing. We’re all learning at any point in the journey. If someone seems super put together, they’re probably just a step ahead, but freaking out about something else.
- You will never be ready, so go before you’re ready. It’s important to be prepared but work towards 80% ready and launch. You’ll never launch perfectly. It’s better to launch and learn. I did this with my first online course. While it financially wasn’t my most successful endeavor, I broke even and learned a ton.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m really passionate about fueling a workforce of women. Women who want children have extremely tough choices to make, and I have a dream of making it easier for them to get into the workforce.
Long-term, The Marketing Greenhouse has a vision of employing working mothers. Mothers that grew successful careers and now want to work on their terms. By offering freelance, contract-based work, we can empower more women to stay or step back into the workforce faster nurturing their love of career and family.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!