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Women in Business – Surviving the First Two Years: “Understand your capabilities and resources.” Interview with Barb Davids

Interview with Barb Davids, founder of Compass Digital Strategies, on her experiences being a woman entrepreneur.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, and describe your company.

I’ve worked in the digital marketing industry for over 20 years. It simply fascinates me. Tactics and methods are always evolving. Compass Digital Strategies helps single-owner businesses get more website traffic and more leads or sales. I work with business owners to understand their goals and their resources and then provide a strategy to fit. While SEO is the focus service, it extends to whatever best helps the client and their strategy. Some clients also get email marketing and some get copywriting. I work with a professional copywriter and website designer to make it easier for my clients. My background allows for an integrated marketing perspective. If the client wants to do paid search, they can hire that out and I will work with that company to ensure, for example, that we can track the results in Google Analytics.

What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in the first two years of operating your business? How did you overcome it?

The most challenging thing is finding new clients. SEO isn’t the easiest thing to “sell”. I overcome it by not selling. I push out content regularly. I put my current clients first. Sharing their successes and sharing my content does the selling for me. I don’t want to talk people into wanting SEO. If I have to talk a business owner into SEO, then they are not likely a great fit for Compass Digital Strategies. 

What are some of the biggest digital marketing challenges you have faced to date? How have you overcome them?

The biggest digital marketing challenge I have ever faced was when I was working in corporate jobs. Trying to convince upper management of a budget needed, or that we needed to go a certain direction or whatever the case was, was, well, painful. I’d have to have the same conversations over and over. Sometimes I was able to convince them by figuring out their objections. Most times, people were just afraid of change. In the end, the best way I overcame it –  I went out on my own. I work with small business owners who appreciate my skills and knowledge and I appreciate them for their trust. 

Please tell us what led you to the path of entrepreneurship. 

My goal is to be able to work from anywhere, anytime. It allows me the flexibility to visit family and friends no matter where they live. And flexibility with how long I can visit. It doesn’t have to be for just a weekend. About the same time I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do for my business, I had started my professional fitness photography business. I never envisioned that one to be full-time. But it led me to start networking with other photographers and I soon realized how confusing SEO was for many of them. Worked on a few single projects which led to my first full-service client. 

What are the three most important things every woman entrepreneur should do, when first thinking about starting a business?

The first thing I recommend is to network. I think for some that sounds like a dry, sleazy idea. And it’s not just exchanging business cards. It’s a way to build up your professional contacts in a supporting and engaging way. I network first to help others. And learn from others. If you go into it thinking who’s going to give me sales, you will not benefit from it.

Second, understand your capabilities and resources. If you sell your time in some form, for example as a consultant, you can take on only so many clients or accounts. How can your business grow when you have a cap on time? What can you outsource? 

Third, schedule time to market your own business. I once heard it said that fish won’t jump in the boat if you don’t put your boat in the water. Fish don’t ever just jump in a boat of course, but the idea is how will your customer find you if you are not proactively marketing your business. It’s very easy to put your own business on the back burner to take care of clients.

Are there actionable steps a woman in business should take to ensure that her company is successful in two years?

One of the most effective steps to ensure your business is a success is to define specific, measurable goals and keep them in front of your face. Not in a phone note or a Google doc. Having them always visible is a great reminder that anything you do should affect that number. Another step is to outsource when possible. Hire out for tasks you don’t care to do. It relieves a lot of stress.

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