Brevard County's premiere online business directory and information portal. Where people in-the-know go for business information, coupons, specials, maps, events and concerts.
College graduates unable to find that first job after can take a few lessons from Tracy Stroderd who’d share the same tip her husband gave her years ago: “Put a filing cabinet in the corner and go sell something!”
Stroderd’s women-owned, online business EverythingBrevard.com was her fifth small business she created and the most successful.
“I refer to my website ‘EverythingBrevard.com’ as ‘the yellow pages on steroids,’” said Stroderd. “Traditional advertising has its limitations and there was no one inclusive source for Brevard County information so that’s how I started this business.”
Tracy’s entrepreneurial pedigree may sound familiar to other small business owners but it’s one that is worth repeating for anyone thinking of starting their own business. Stroderd worked a full time job as a property manager and began her first small business; a dining, arts and entertainment newspaper, at home in her spare time. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Miami Shores, Fla. Barry University in 2006. In the meantime, she started a second magazine called businessLIFE for the business-to-business audience.
The decision to leave full-time employment and a steady paycheck to become her own boss wasn’t entirely her own.
“My family had grown beyond the size of the home that came along with my property management position. The property manager’s job was also becoming more uncertain given changes with the homeowners association. I was fairly certain I could leave full time employment altogether and be successful even with the additional expense for a larger home,” Stroderd remembered. “Sometimes you have to do something uncomfortable to grow your business. You can’t be afraid to try something different.”
How do you build a network of trusted professionals? That is a question often asked by new entrepreneurs.
Having participated in multiple networking organizations over the past 10 years, I have learned that you can often prosper quicker by selling through an individual, not to an individual. This concept of network-building is referred to as building a power team or creating a circle of influence.
This process requires you to educate those you network with about your product or service. Typically, this would be another business owner or a sales professional who works closely with your target market. For example, if you own an air conditioning company, you would want your power team to consist of a real-estate specialist, home inspector, roofing contractor, plumbing company or a home-renovation specialist, just to name a few, as they would be working closely with your ideal customer and could pass referrals to you when the opportunity arises. This strategy is built on trust and takes time, education and consistency to establish but can be mutually beneficial.
The outcome is not always positive. We recently had an experience where a potential new client asked us to speak with her marketing company about our product before she made the purchase. This was not an unusual request, so an appointment was scheduled. During our good-faith presentation, a lot of information was shared to secure the sale. What happened next demonstrates why, in any profession, it is important to know who you are dealing with. Without warning, this individual used creative license to repackage our information into a blog about why companies shouldn't work with marketing entities like ours. The way they communicated what we'd presented was quite skewed – and then broadcast far and wide to their own, targeted audiences.
Here are a few tips that can help when building a trusted network:
Everything Brevard is a company often described as “the yellow pages on steroids” by husband and wife owners Tracy and Wendall Stroderd. They sell on-line advertising to small and mid-size businesses that are looking to increase their visibility and expand their local client base. At the same time, they provide information, resources and discounts to the consumer community to drive traffic to the site. Tracy is responsible for generating sales while Wendall manages the back office operations of the business. Tracy and Wendall are not new to business, having owned and operated other enterprises. They still own a company called Synergistic Marketing that they operate as a separate entity.
Tracy and Wendall are the only full-time employees. They have one part-time employee and all other needs are filled through the use of contractors. Expertise is often retained for technical assistance, photography, and some commission based sales.
Everything Brevard has established a good base for the two markets they target – small to mid-size businesses and a consumer demographic made up primarily of women between the ages of 27- 55. The website was getting, on average, 350,000 hits each month and was retaining approximately 80% of its client base due to a good customer ROI, cutting edge technology used by the site that provides excellent representation for the businesses and ease of use for the site visitors and excellent customer service.
Tracy and Everything Brevard came to the IGNITE mentoring program to get help in meeting several specific objectives:
While having very specific and well thought out objectives, many were conflicting with other operational goals.