Sharon Latour was working as a customer relationship management (CRM) specialist in the automotive industry when she decided working for a large enterprise wasn’t for her and she started her own marketing firm, Marketing Bee, just over a year ago.
How did the idea for the business come about?
If I have to look back – I have always enjoyed dealing with local businesses and seeing communities grow. Although a corporate setting offers a lot of perks, I always wanted to start my own business one day – however I didn’t expect that day to come by so fast.
The idea of the business came about when a close friend asked me to assist her with setting up her new cosmetic business – she needed help with her branding and a marketing strategy. When I started to help her I was truly surprised that we had to go to so many different businesses to get her company started – graphic designer, web designer, copywriter, marketing coach and others. The process was quite disjointed and in many cases we were never asked any questions about her business goals or vision. This is when I saw a gap in the market for a reasonable, innovative and effective agency able to deliver both strong strategic and creative results, a marketing partner able to understand a business and its goals while delivering everything marketing-related. The idea was to create an agency, which would collaborate with business owners over the lifespan of their businesses – evolving with them and with their individual organisation.
What was the toughest challenge to overcome when starting out?Undeniably the lack of funds. You know where you want to be and who needs to be on your team to make it happen but due to the initial lack of funds, the only way to persevere is to take one step at a time. I was very lucky to find the right people who believed in the adventure.
What has been the most successful form of advertising for your business?Social media has without a doubt been the most successful and productive form of exposure. Our launch was fantastic because of it. The majority of our clients, connections and partners also come from Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn has also helped us build a fantastic network, which is bearing its fruits now. These platforms also assisted us in getting the right resources for the business – whether it be our accountant or information sources, they all originated from connections we made through social media. Had we not planned our efforts, engaged continuously and implemented the right strategies, I don’t think we would have been where we are now.
What do you think the Federal and State Governments could do to make things easier for small business owners?
It goes without saying that everything should be done to make things easier for small business owners. Starting a business is a life-changing step and the bold moves of startups is what will pump more blood into our economy. Supporting small business owners isn’t only about supporting individuals but it is also supporting entire communities and networks. I think that the focus should not only be on supporting startups but also on encouraging sustainable growth in established small businesses. Our small business policies should really be crafted accordingly.