Exactly one year ago, I decided to take a leap of faith. I had just finished my five year program at Carleton University, and my co-op placement at Alcatel-Lucent was coming to a close. It was an important moment, when, like everyone graduating with me, I had to decide what I wanted to do next.
After months of looking for jobs and thinking about the future, a moment of clarity finally came while interviewing for a local marketing position.
Interviewer - “So, if you could choose, what would your dream job look like?”
Me - “Well, I’ve always wanted to start my own marketing agency and work directly with clients to help solve their problems.”
It was an answer I had given many times before. But in that moment it finally hit me. Why wait? I was in the position to make this dream job I had always talked about a reality. When contacted for a second interview, I politely declined, and dove head first into my new direction.
Establishing a brand – The makings of Bridge the Gap
Energized and excited about my decision, I set to work building a brand. In a classic eureka moment, I came up with the name Bridge the Gap Marketing Solutions.
The name references my main goal – helping companies speak their customers’ language and bridge the gap between what the company does and what the customer is actually looking for. Plus, it has “bridge” in it, which I thought was pretty cool.
The tagline, Content. Consulting. Social Media. followed this same philosophy of communicating the marketing services I could provide clearly, and the very talented Corina Wan developed the great bridge logo found on my website, Facebook and Twitter pages. All that was left was to register the business and I was officially an agency.
The work begins – Finding and keeping clients
Getting set up was the easy part. At some point though, I had to actually go out and find work. Throughout this entire process I’ve been extremely fortunate to land great clients who are truly passionate about their business.
Shortly after going out on my own, I caught a break when my previous manager from Alcatel-Lucent referred me to a company he knew was looking for help. With that, ThinkRF, a leader in real-time spectrum analyzers, became the first client of Bridge the Gap.
Not long after, I attended a startup event, Accelerate OTT, and was able to secure two additional clients. (I’ll be attending Accelerate OTT again this year on May 11th, send me a message if you want to meet up.)
This momentum powered me through the summer, and gave me the freedom to take on additional projects, including one-off writing projects, a social media strategy and training guide for a local real-estate agent, and a social media management project for a local charity event, among others.
All this culminated in a chance encounter with New Initiatives Marketing, an agency out of Toronto who was looking for writing help with one of their clients. But what started out as a simple blog series evolved into much more, including two additional blog series, a whitepaper, web writing, and my personal favourite, two email marketing consulting projects.
It’s incredible to think how different the last year would have been without that one message that got us connected, and I’m very grateful to New Initiatives Marketing for their continued support.
The first failure – And the moment I knew I was on the right track
Of course, the last year hasn’t just been success after success. There have been many moments where I’ve lost out on a potential client, lost contact with an existing client, or had to scramble to adjust a campaign on the fly due to lackluster results. It comes with the territory, and each one of these experiences has been an opportunity to learn and grow.
One of the moments that stands out the most was when I had my first client say “No thanks,” after I submitted a proposal. It was in early July, and up until then it felt like nothing could go wrong. The experience, while disappointing, proved to me that I was on the right track. I survived my first failure, and had managed to build something that was able to withstand setbacks.
One year down – And many to go
I’m not normally one to self-promote too heavily. The entire philosophy behind Bridge the Gap is that it is better to market through useful, educational and interesting content that builds trust, not hit people with a sales pitch from day one. But one year in, I found myself reflecting on the incredible experiences I’ve had, the clients who have put their trust in me, and what the years ahead will bring.
In January, I was able to bring on my first contractor, Samukele Ncube, to help provide more service to ThinkRF. This is the first step toward building a sustainable, profitable, and customer centric business that can expand beyond just the skills I have into a full service marketing agency.
It’s this vision that drives me forward each day, and ensures me that I made the right decision turning down that second interview one year ago.