Work In Progress

Work in Progress business blog

Don't just wish for it. Work for it.

 

My bumpy path that lead to my dream of starting my own marketing agency.

 

 

 

When I graduated from college with my Marketing degree, I, unfortunately faced the problem than many in my shoes can relate to. It is really hard to break into the marketing field. Most jobs available out there require 7+ years of experience — or that was my impression at least. I was fortunate enough to land a great job with an amazing company, but it was a far stretch from a marketing job. It was a sales job for an industrial supplies company. Looking back, I can see that I needed the sales and customer service experience. At the time, I just felt lost.

 

 

 

Knowing that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, I went back to school at nights. I felt defeated with my search into the marketing world, so I decided to pursue a wider master’s degree and earned a MBA. The days were long. I was often gone more than 16 hours between school and work – and that didn’t include homework or study time. I remember on multiple occasions going on a date with my husband on the weekends. We’d go to dinner and a movie. I always let him pick the movie, because as soon as we got in our seats I’d pass out until he woke me at the ending credits. The days were long. The road was hard. But I knew I was capable of more. 

 

 

 

The classes that were the most fascinating to me were classes in change management and negotiation, which lead me to get my concentration in Leadership & Organization Development. While I loved the coursework and learned so much, keep in mind that I had zero direct reports at the time. So a leadership degree seemed overly optimistic at best. Of course I had my doubts. I definitely had student loan debt. But I still had hope. 

 

After completion of school and the birth of our first daughter, our family relocated to Mississippi for my husband’s work. I discovered a surprise at the time of this transition- we had a second daughter on the way. Expecting, jobless for the first time since I was 12, and knowing NO ONE in this new city, I suddenly had the time on my hands to brush up on Marketing. A lot had changed in the digital world since I went to school. I started helping some businesses with websites and social media. 

 

 

After a couple of successful launches for businesses, I was scooped up to start a marketing agency for a business. The work was exhilarating for me. I finally got to put my two passions together – marketing and leadership. I hired, managed, and grew an agency from nothing into something I was proud of. It was hard work and I spent more sleepless nights for this role than I did while earning both of my degrees – combined. I learned along the way. I grew my Mississippi roots and began networking and volunteering in the community. As our customer base grew, our solutions did as well. And I loved every minute of it. 

 

And then, one afternoon last summer, my husband and I were laying side by side in hammocks on a beach in Cabo, and I realized I was ready for my final transition. To be able to truly own the decisions I needed to make to take a marketing agency to the next level, I had to own the company. I wanted to pay employees more. I wanted to attend more training and continuing education. I wanted to have the time to shut down the office to celebrate successes along the way. Vitality South was conceived on the white sands of Mexico and she was born just a couple months later. 

 

We celebrated our one year anniversary last month. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it was a trial by fire with the Pandemic. But it has been the most rewarding (career) experience of my life. Looking back, it all makes sense. But keep in mind, Vitality South wasn’t weeks in the making, but rather years and years. The sales job. The school. The sleepless nights. The work (and more work). It all was not only part of my path, but preparation. 

 

Don’t give up on your dreams. Even if your current path doesn’t make complete sense to you, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important step to getting you where you need to go. And even if your final destination doesn’t look the same as mine, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth dreaming. But at the end of the day, the biggest take away I have for you is this. Don’t just wish for it. Work for it. 

 

Ashley

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