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Employee Turned Entrepreneur – Michele Smith

Posted Under: Entrepreneurship, Our Heroes

Now upbeat and with every reason to be proud of herself, Michele Smith, our guest under the ‘Our Heroes’ series today, tells us that somewhere in between (1) seeing the moon shining early one morning when getting ready for work and (2) her son calling her ‘dada’ instead of ‘mama’ she knew it was time for a change. Here’s how Michele used her vast experiences from managing marketing in the corporate world to open 3L Publishing, a madly successful publishing and marketing company…

DD: Who are you and what kind of corporate job were you at?

MS: My name is Michele Smith, I was a Fortune 500 marketing professional and my background consisted of the dotcoms and homebuilding – and we know where that went. At my dot-com era I worked at TFNT Network Inc and managed a multiple of websites (marketing capacity) and worked with major ad agencies across the United States to place ads in our newsletters, websites, etc. etc. In my homebuilding era I was fortunate enough to manage marketing at both KB Home and Shea Homes, where I not only managed the marketing aspect I opened up new communities. During this time I received the marketing director of the year award in 2007.

DD: What made you leave the job? When did you realize that you want to be an entrepreneur & why?

MS: I was laid off from the building industry in 2007 and I took on a job as Director of Marketing for a firm in downtown Sacramento. I loved everyone I worked with, but I now was a new mom and 2 hour commute was not working out for me. My ah-ha moment was when my son called me dada- I was never home to do drop off or pick up and gas prices had gone up so I would take the commuter bus in from downtown. Between the dada and seeing the moon one AM when I was getting ready for work I knew I needed a change.

I did not exactly know I wanted to be an entrepreneur but that I needed to make a change on my own terms  – to improve more quality time with family. I basically wanted a job on my own terms and the idea of being on my own was a dream – very scary though not having a stable paycheck. I figured worst case scenario I jump ship test it out but I always had my corporate experience to fall back on.

DD: How did you prepare yourself for the employee to entrepreneur transition?

MS: I gave 6 weeks notice at work to get all of the essential marketing set up – it was my background so I knew what I needed to have: logo, business card, website (blog followed), newsletter, information kit. I had no idea what I was doing and jumped in with both feet. I did use the internet a lot if I had questions and I was very lucky to have a mentor I could bounce ideas off of.  The biggest challenge was time management – balancing business development, actual hourly work, and admin.

DD: What suggestions do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

1. Know that if you are going to venture on your own you need to put in 110% – just because it is sunny outside it does not mean you should lounge by the pool.

2. Plan ahead – take time to get your marketing ducks in a row while you are still at corporate and SAVE MONEY if you do not think you can get clients lined up quickly.

3. Test out the different networking organizations – know ahead of time what can work for you. We love eWomenNetwork – great fit for us~!

DD: How are you now? Are you still in same business, and how do you feel?

MS: Yes – 1 year and a half – launched a publishing division this past July and are pioneers in a changing industry. We receive media coverage all of the time and with our book SMASH: A Smart Girls Guide to Practical Marketing and PR we get asked to speak all of the time. This is when we decided to launch the publishing division and educate on the business in a box model. Oh, and I just got nominated for the top 40 under 40 executives award in Sac. I am GREAT!!

DD: What a refreshing story about Michele Smith who was able to use years of marketing experience to establish a company of her own! Doesn’t she sound like she’s on top of the world? She admits that she used the internet A LOT in the early days as a valuable resource for gaining the information she needed and was lucky to have a mentor who could give her feedback. I think aspiring entrepreneurs should aim to find that special person to confide in, bounce ideas off and vent to during the rough times…maybe then we’d all be as optimistic and energetic as Michele!

Success to all!

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