As we enter the season of introspection and gratitude, much like many other businesses, we’re reflective of what transpired and how these events will shape our goals for the new year.
2019 brought us new relationships and new opportunities, and was not without its important–and humbling–lessons. We saw periods of immense growth, and also had periods where we spent our focus not on our sales funnel but instead on how to serve our current clients even better. We added to our leadership team and grew the company three times the size of where we started, participated in community outreach programs, invested in our team, and gained clarity on the holes in our processes and how best to fill them.
As we contemplate the lessons learned, there are a few standout takeaways that sit on our minds and hearts as we take the rest of the month of December to plan, reflect, and look forward to the new year.
The Power of Community
This year, we saw the power of community firsthand when a group of folks in Cherokee county discovered that a local family needed help. From that first initial flurry of phone calls and messages, we watched as the #cherokeegivesa movement was born. This association of people who shared common purpose, to unite the county for this family to raise money and awareness, took over the county this summer and we bore witness to an amazing collection of events that helped a family through an incredibly hard time.
Another opportunity to get involved in the community presented itself to us back in the spring through the involvement of one of the marketing classes at Reinhardt University. One of the professors business and marketing professors, Chip Campbell, invites local businesses to come in and speak to the students to provide experiential marketing knowledge as they learn the concepts throughout the semester. Business owners commit to coming each week to present to the class on the concepts and how they apply these ideas in their own businesses. Our Director of Operations, Payton Smith, and I spent many weeks up at Reinhardt sharing their knowledge and insights with these students to help them become better marketers. We came out of the experience with a stronger knowledge of our own systems, processes, and team members, and will start the new year with a brand new intern from that class.
The Power of Having a Strong Team
We started out the year with a third of the team members that we currently have. In January, our team consisted of James and myself, our software developer, and 1-2 account managers. As the year progressed and we had some pretty large growth spurts, we hired more account managers as needed, and we learned an important lesson about hiring candidates who will help set the tone for our company culture going forward. They helped us answer important questions like:
- Who are we, really?
- What do we want for our team?
- What do we really want as a team?
Over the summer, we realized our need for middle management was at its peak, (i.e., James and I were drowning in follow-up and missing important follow-ups and deadlines, ugh) and after careful selection and a long interview process, we welcomed Payton to the team. Her client-facing role and responsibilities put her, quite literally, in the middle of all operations, and her role has been vital to our our growth for the upcoming year.
As we come to the end of 2019, I can safely speak for both James and myself when I say that we are more confident than ever in our current team, and if I’m being honest, we are damn lucky to have all of them. They’ve been patient and consistent and we continuously figure out our place in the digital marketing world, and I can’t imagine a more creative, empathetic, hardworking team.
The Power of Investing in Your Team
One of the most important business decisions we’ve made this year is the decision to invest in our leadership team. Through this work, we’ve learned more about the strengths and weaknesses of our leadership team, how to empower each other, how to uncover motivations that will ultimately lead to greater professional and personal growth.
Our collaboration with these consultants will continue well into the first half of 2020, and it’s our goal to ultimately determine how to use the knowledge and skills we’ve learned to help the rest of our team see positive change as well.
I’m looking forward to starting the new year with a stronger, more focused leadership team armed with specific, measurable goals.
The Power of Gratitude
2019 hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t change any of it. Our biggest hurdle has been building an agency on a budget. Atlanta SEO Pro is 100% self-funded by James and me—no capital partners, no business loans, no funding of any kind. Last spring, when I first made the commitment to help grow the company, I was working full-time and spent all my extra time working on building the brand and doing the actual client work with our first clients. James and I handled every aspect of the business, and I’m learning every day about all the pieces and parts that are essential for making a business run.
Our team wants the very best for our clients, and we want the very best for people. Our goal is to build a passionate, sometimes-quirky, fun-loving group of top-level marketing professionals. Large or small, our goal is to help businesses scale their marketing organizations to lead digital marketing initiatives across multiple platforms. I wrote earlier this year that our vision for Atlanta SEO Pro is to remain a smaller firm with more transparency and close relationships with small business owners, and it’s still 100% true. We’re the ally–so often, we share the same values and experiences as our clients.
At the end of it all, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all the clients, community leaders and friends who helped us this year. Thank you for your continued partnership and support–we wouldn’t be growing without you!
From all of us at Atlanta SEO Pro, thank you for helping us make 2019 memorable. We look forward to seeing what 2020 brings!