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Exploring Life & Business with Amie Thompson of Creative Allies

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amie Thompson.

Hi Amie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
As a youth, I moved around quite a bit because my dad was a college football coach. That environment required me to be flexible, adaptable, and make friends quickly but not get too attached. I’ve always been a fairly structured person and very self-reliant. At times maybe a little too focused! I did well in school so that I could get into college. I did well in college in order to get a job. I probably missed out on some fun along the way, but I don’t think I’d change anything.

My career has been a variety of operational and leadership roles. My positions have ranged from sales & marketing operations to data analytics to business operations across a few different industries. In March 2017, I felt burned out from working solely for money and wanted a change. I decided to take a few months off to reshape my thinking and plan my future. A couple of months turned into a year and a half and I really discovered myself a bit more. I realized I wanted to do something different and something big. I never saw myself as a CEO, nor did I pursue this type of role until the opportunity presented itself with Creative Allies. I felt that there really isn’t anyone else that can do this job as well as I can or the way that I can!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’m sure that running a business is never a smooth road! There are always challenges, just different ones at different levels of maturity of the business. I began running Creative Allies in Oct of 2018, so I’m winding down my 3rd year as CEO. Our company is about ten years old – so I did not start the company. Taking over has its own struggles but I’ll focus here on the day-to-day challenges of running the business.

During my first year, the challenge was cash and clients. The company at that time really only offered one service and the cost to execute that service was high and people-intensive.

During my second year, we offered more services, acquired more clients, and brought in more revenue. The challenge was still cash, better than year 1, but not yet profitable. Another challenge was finding the right people to add to the team to help me grow the business.

During my third year, we’ve seen great success and growth. I’m running a profitable business with positive cash flow. I’m in the process of adding another employee in June and now the challenge is bandwidth and process. I’m starting to see the success I believe would happen but in order to maintain our growth, I need us to be more efficient and need to make 1-2 strategic hires.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Creative Allies?
Creative Allies is a minority-owned marketing firm offering marketing and branding services to clients of all types and sizes. We use our internal team, along with a network of vetted freelancers and strategic partners, to execute marketing activities for our client’s specific needs. We especially enjoy partnering with other small businesses where we can be the single source for any marketing needs. We handle the marketing so that the business owner can focus on running their business.

What sets us apart from other firms is that we take the time to get to know our clients. While we can execute a variety of marketing projects, our real value is in partnering with our clients to solve marketing problems and help them grow their businesses. I am most proud of the fact that we grew our business during the recession & pandemic of 2020. While it was tough, we were able to offer our clients a way to improve their digital presence at a time when there were so many unknowns in the world. That growth continued such that we are on track to double our revenue in 2021.

What I want the audience to know is that we treat our small business clients the same way we want to be treated as a small business. Our high level of care and customer service is because we understand first-hand the challenges that small businesses face because we are one. Specifically about our services, we offer content generation, website design & development, graphic design, video production, digital audits, social media management, marketing campaign management, and much more. We also offer free consultations with businesses to provide advice on any marketing needs.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Mentoring is crucial for any leader. I believe in learning from others wherever you can but also teaching those that may not be as far along. Before you look for a mentor, you should do some homework. First, know what you want to gain, do your research, and plan. Don’t ask someone to mentor you if you haven’t thought through why, how, and what your goals are.

Next, find something, no matter how small, that you can offer a mentor. Mentorship should be a two-way relationship. While the potential mentor may not ask for anything, having an idea of what you can give is something you’ll have at the ready. Once you’ve done those two things, then ask around. If you don’t know anyone that could be a good mentor for you, ask family, friends, or colleagues if they can recommend someone based on your ‘homework’ above. If you aren’t successful in finding a mentor, then soak up information from people that you don’t know. Read books and follow leaders/entrepreneurs on social media to gain knowledge until you find a mentor.

I would argue that I’m one of the world’s biggest introverts. I’m certainly not shy, but I have a fairly large disdain for anything that remotely feels like socializing with a group of people that I don’t know. Networking is a critical part of getting the word out about any new business, gain clients, and keep up to date on new methods and technologies in your areas of focus.

What I used to view as traditional networking (happy hour for example) seemed stressful and I avoided it at all costs. I recently realized that I don’t actually hate networking as I thought; I just don’t like the way it’s usually done. In 2020, the pandemic drastically changed the way people network and it’s opened my eyes to just how valuable it can be. I’ve probably networked in the past year and a half more than my entire life!

Similar to looking for a mentor, use the network that you have to help grow your network. Make sure you are clear on what you are looking to gain and the type of people you want in your network. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many people will gladly introduce me to others in their network if I’m clear on who I’m looking to meet.

The last thing I’ll share is that people shouldn’t be obsessed with how big their network is. I recommend focusing on quality instead of quantity. Focus on adding people to your network but building a relationship with those people. It’s better to have a small but strong network of people that can help you grow than a large number of people that you don’t really know well.

As an introvert and entrepreneur, I’m learning to embrace networking more and more and it’s helped me grow professionally and helped my business.

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