• Kimberlee Martin

Starting Again

Starting a new business is hard.

Take it from me. I’ve done it twice.

Over 20 years ago, I launched a software development company after the organization I was working for went out of business. I chose to start my own company because it was the option that afforded me the best work-life balance. As a mother of two young children, I wanted to be able to set my own work hours and dictate the parameters of my work life.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I was able to meet the kids as they got off the school bus. I chaperoned field trips. I took time off to take them to dance lessons and hockey games and museums and playgrounds.

I was also able to continue doing the work that I enjoyed in software development. I loved being able to choose which technologies I was going to implement, and I learned several exciting new tools as they were published. I had the satisfaction of seeing my work implemented at dozens of companies in mission-critical roles.

For more than 20 years, that company supported my family. Much of my work came from small companies, most of whom did not have any full-time IT staff, putting me in a position to work directly with end-users and management teams. I learned a lot about small companies in those days – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Before I finished my projects, I felt like an insider in every one of them, at least to some extent. And that’s what led me to start a second business.

After my oldest child went off to college, I decided that I was ready to learn some new skills, and with my passion for helping small businesses, I wondered what I could do in that arena. After much soul searching, reading, and googling, I was drawn to the field of communications.


That was a common flaw I’d seen in most small companies. Some of them are great at communications. Most aren’t. During my software years, I’d learned a thing or two about communications. I’d worked with teams to develop specs, written user guides, and trained countless individuals to effectively use their new software. I knew that I was a good communicator from those experiences, so I decided to use that skill to bolster small businesses.

Skip ahead a couple of years, and I had a brand-new college degree with a major in Communications and Marketing, and a burning desire to reach out to small organizations to offer my services. But convincing people to part with their hard-earned money without a proven background in the field was a hurdle I had to get past.

To clear that hurdle, I partnered with another local company that was offering consulting services to businesses in my area. Made to Thrive Consulting specializes in working with entrepreneurs and leadership teams to help them get what they want from their business. After several exciting meetings to set our direction and determine how I could best serve those clients I signed on with them as a marketing specialist.

And it was a great partnership! Made to Thrive gave me the connections I needed at local small businesses, and in return, I used my marketing skills to move their business forward. My working relationship with that company has been the most rewarding business relationship in my career. I feel that I drew so much from them over the years, including inspiration, experience, and an energizing flow of ideas. I also feel like I was a valuable and valued partner, contributing at least as much as I received.

That partnership might have gone on for the rest of my career, except that the management team at Made to Thrive is too smart to let their business get stale. They saw an opportunity to take their company in a different direction, and they recognized a good thing when they saw it. They have dived into the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) with a zeal, and are experiencing unparalleled success in that arena. Congrats Made to Thrive!

They were happy to keep the marketing services under their umbrella, but we all knew it was no longer a perfect fit. One thing we learned from EOS is not to be afraid to make changes when they will clear the path forward, so we decided it was time to make a change.

And so, for the second time in my life, I launched a new company, spinning off the marketing services into its own entity. North Port Marketing is a perfect blend of the work that North Port Solutions did with software solutions, and the work that Made to Thrive did with positioning small businesses for success. Although I’m doing the same work, it’s a bright, shiny new company, and I’m excited to get it off the ground!

But I’m also buried in the tasks associated with getting it off the ground. Picking a company name. Researching to make sure its not already in use. Purchasing a URL. Setting up email. Creating a website. Writing a marketing plan. Ordering business cards. Evaluating tax implications. Determining what insurance is needed. The list just keeps going!

Not that I’m complaining. I’m exhausted, but it’s such rewarding work, this act of creating something out of nothing. It reminds me of starting tomato seeds in my kitchen in January. You take these little tiny seeds, push them into the dirt, and faithfully water them. And then you wait. When spring hits, you prune and harden off and transplant. And then you wait some more. The blossoms set, you weed every week, you water when its dry, you fertilize from time to time. And you keep waiting, as the tiny green orbs first appear. You put up fencing to keep the deer and other ravenous critters out. And finally… FINALLY… in June, or maybe July, or even August… you’ve got ripe tomatoes! And usually, you are then overrun with tomatoes until October.

That’s such a good analogy for a new business, isn’t it? Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing. You’ve planted the seeds for your new venture. You’re watering and fertilizing with all of the work you’re doing day to day, week to week, month to month. Like you, I’ll keep nurturing this business for the next few months, and with a little luck and a lot of hard work, I’ll have a healthy crop of marketing clients before long.

Things are happening already. I see blossoms, so to speak. Starting a business is never an easy thing to do. But no tomato that you buy in a grocery store ever tastes as good as the ones you pick in your backyard. And likewise, business success is never sweeter than when you’ve built it from scratch.

About the Author

Kimberlee Martin is a Communication Specialist at North Port Marketing with 30+ years of business experience. She has consulted with dozens of small companies, observing their strengths and weaknesses, and has built a marketing program that addresses their unique needs. Kim's passion is helping entrepreneurs define strategies that resonate with their target audiences, driving new business their way, and paving the road for success.

Contact Kim at kmartin@northportmarketing.com.

#smallbusiness #marketing #success

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