Here at Allee Creative, we are celebrating National Small Business Week with an interview with our very own CEO Melissa Harrison. As a successful female entrepreneur and small business owner, she shares her experiences (personal and business) in a two-part blog series. Check out my post for part one of the interview and continue reading for part two of my interview with Melissa.
Stephanie: Recently, you merged with LenaLena Events, can you touch on that? How did that conversation come about?
Melissa: Yes, in September 2017, Nicole Stephany became an official part of the Allee Creative team as part of this merger. Nicole and I have worked together very closely for the past 7 or so years as part of a large client account and several education events. And because of the way we work (which is very collaborative in nature) it was a natural fit to become one company.
How did the “official” conversation come about? We were driving to a client meeting and it came up in conversation with ease—we had worked together for so long that we already got the vibe from one another that this was what the other was thinking. I can’t even pinpoint how it happened, it just happened. We were that in tune with our working relationship; the conversation evolved naturally.
There are not many people that gel so well together, and Nicole is one of those people that “gets” me. She has the same business ethics and attitude toward exceptional customer service and client support that I do. We’ve worked together in coffee shops, on airplanes, at each other’s homes. We’ve seen each other raise babies (and bring those babies to meetings or be part of the background noise on a conference call). I don’t think the two of us pictured things any other way once we figured out how well we worked together. And for me, she is a great person to balance me out. She has always been a great partner and I am truly grateful for her support and really, for her friendship, too.
S: Where do you see the company in 5 years?
M: Well, I can tell you I didn’t see us going from 4 full-time employees to 12 full-time employees (plus a few contractors) in less than a year. I’m still trying to process all the growth that happened in 2017! I mean seriously, we outgrew our “new” space in less than 18 months. I’m still trying to process the fact that I now own two businesses and, come June, will be a commercial property owner. At this point, I’m planning 6 months at a time. LOL.
S: What has been the biggest struggle with growing as fast as you have?
M: Time. Adequate staffing. Overhead and supplies. Budgets. Being available to everyone. There really isn’t a “biggest” struggle. It’s all the little things that add up. Twelve years ago, I didn’t have half the daily tasks that I have today. And, at the end of the day, I still have to be readily available for clients. We cannot ever sacrifice the integrity of the business or the quality of our work. I take that personally and I work hard every single day to make sure that at the end of the day, we are always still who we say we are and deliver on what we say we will do. Reputations are forever.
S: If you could tell 26 year-old Melissa one thing, what would it be?
M: Ask for more help. Just because you ask for it doesn’t make you any less successful.
Invite your friends out for coffee/drinks/dinner as often as you can fit it in because as you grow and take on more responsibilities (and have kids that need you to drive them around) you will lose some of that time for a period in your life.
Call your mom at least once a week.
Live it up in the front half of your 30s (because the back half won’t always give you the freedom to do that because, well, you had four kids).
Take more vacations. I don’t care how busy you are. Take vacations.
That’s way more than one thing. But, I’ve always been one to make my own path.
A special thank you to our CEO Melissa Harrison, for taking the time to share her experiences with us in celebration of National Small Business Week. Follow along on Allee Creative’s social media channels for more information about how we are celebrating National Small Business Week.