Don't look down; just follow your instincts
Sometimes the mistakes we make aren't really mistakes at all, but rather, cleverly disguised decisions that we make when our instincts take over.
A while back I was approached to join a much bigger marketing agency to build their LA office and West Coast presence. They wanted me to shut down Orange Pegs Media, bring over my clients, and be part of a much larger organization as a partner.
A little background
When I left my job in corporate advisory services and decided to start my marketing agency, I vowed that I would never work for somebody else again. Simply put, I was sick and tired of the people I worked for devaluing my contributions because I refused to play politics.
I think this is probably true for a lot of you reading this as well. Or, at least, some version of it.
Anyhow, in the early days of my agency, I was approached by the CEO of a much larger marketing agency - I had unintentionally networked my way to an offer, initially thinking that we would build some sort of company-to-company partnership.
1. The Setup
It was early enough in the history of my agency where we were very small and only had a handful of clients. However, we had recently invested heavily in shifting from a social media marketing firm to a turn-key inbound marketing agency, and we were starting to see results of our first campaigns.
Traffic was up, leads were coming in, and people were asking for my help in assessing their marketing challenges. We were even getting some small project work out of it. But it wasn't huge, and since we were still so young, we were still losing money. In fact, when this conversation came up, it was after one of the hardest years of my life, and it almost seemed like a gift from above - a life preserver, if you will.
2. The Decision
The cost was a painful one, and one that I wrestled with for many sleepless nights. Maybe it wouldn't have been so difficult had our shift to inbound NOT been effective. But in just a few short months, it was clear that we were just inches away from getting past a huge milestone, to the point where we could hire more talent and continue investing in our growth.
I've been in sales my entire career, and my Spidey senses were tingling like crazy, but there was still this nagging little voice in my head saying that I needed to do the responsible thing... I needed to at least explore the opportunity.
After all, this other agency was already closing in on 30 employees, and just having a reputation like that would have allowed me to hit the ground running at a much faster pace. Tweaking and adding is MUCH easier than starting from scratch.
Not to mention, every day I woke up and looked into the eyes of my wife and kids, I knew that they were sacrificing a lot for me and that I needed to make it all worthwhile at some point. Maybe my journey wasn't to own my own business but to help another already swimming in the big leagues.
So, I said I'd consider it, and in response, we agreed that a meeting would be a good idea, so we booked travel and hotel accommodations for me to fly out of Orange County to their corporate HQ in the MidWest.
3. The Mistake
I woke up the morning of my flight, checked its status, finished packing, ate breakfast, ran a few errands, then kissed my wife and kids, and headed out the door.
2 minutes and 48 seconds later I came crashing back into the house yelling, "Noooooooo!" I planned my whole day around a misread itinerary because I was actually looking at the time for my flight connection in Phoenix, not for the original departure out of Orange County. In fact, my flight was probably soaring over me the moment I realized the mistake I had made.
In 10 years of b2b and b2c sales, I had never made such a ridiculous mistake!
4. Why it was the BEST Worst Mistake Ever
After I calmed down a bit, I called the CEO of this other marketing agency, and let him know of my ridiculous mistake, apologizing profusely.
But then we got to talking, and it was at that moment that I remembered saying to myself that I would never go back to working for somebody else. It became very clear to me why I really missed that flight.
If I went out there, the conversation about shutting down Orange Pegs becomes serious, and that would have been the real mistake.
A year later I received a message from the CEO of that mid-west marketing agency. He was fishing to see if he could convince me to join him and shut down Orange Pegs. It was an incredible thing to tell him that this ship had sailed.
What made it easier for me to invest in myself overtaking the safer way out at that critical cross-road was that I had a great plan in action that was created by countless hours of trial and error, research, and tweaking and adjusting.
Of course, that came from inbound marketing. As a social media practitioner, you could only have so much of an impact before you require other elements to push the prospect through the buyer's journey. With inbound, however, there is a mathematical equation (brought to life through artistry) that has been tried and proven many times over.
Having a plan gave me the confidence to take that final leap in myself... to push when the whole world was telling me to pull... following my instincts as a salesperson, a business owner, a father, a husband, and an entrepreneur.
What was that moment for you?
Interested in seeing the formula I used to achieve my growth objectives? I made it available to anybody who's interested!