Featured Member: Amber Swenor // Featured Member // Jan 15 2017
Watch Doyenne Featured Entrepreneur Amber Swenor’s madisonNoteworthy Weekly Minute
Strategic Partners Marketing – Agency
Amberdella Consulting – Educational Resources & Courses for entrepreneurs and business owners
DG: What is your background? What got you to where you are now?
From the time I was young, I was curious, and I’ve maintained that curiosity throughout my life.
As a child, I asked questions, sought to understand the ways of the world, and often didn’t accept or agree with the answers I was given. I came from a world where, “we accept our place,” and “people like us don’t go to college.” My parents came from challenging backgrounds of abuse, alcoholism and more. Both of them were 9th grade drop outs who hadn’t been shown that they could expect “more,” so to have an outgoing daughter like me who proved to them that things like school, and extracurriculars, and being outgoing and liked, and making friends, and doing public speaking through school, were for people like us.
I participated in every extracurricular activity at school, excelling in FFA and advancing to state and national speaking competitions. I became the first in my family to graduate high school, graduating as valedictorian. From 2002-2003 I served as a Wisconsin FFA Officer, traveling the state conducting youth leadership workshops with middle and high school students. In 2003 I served as the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, a public relations position with the WI State Fair.
From 2003-2007 I attended UW-Madison. I’ve held jobs since I was a kid, I’ve always found ways to work so that I could get money for the things I wanted and needed. From childhood, when I saw images of Africa in a National Geographic Magazine, I said I’d go there someday, and I did. In college I volunteered in New Orleans, abroad in Turkmenistan and studied and interned with a program in Kenya for 10 months; Africa will always have my heart.
My entire life I’ve been a songwriter, without formal training, but a deep passion for music. Throughout my life music has provided me security and friendship, like the songs understood what I was going through. After graduating college I was seeking a way to merge my passions: Helping Others – My talents as a Strategic Thinker and Storyteller and my passion for Music. In 2008 I started my first band, which is also how I met my husband (that’s a good story :)). I worked several marketing jobs including being a telemarketer which wasn’t fun or easy, but I learned if I could be successful at that, that I could do anything. I managed multiple event promotions and worked at WKOW CH. 27 as their digital sales specialist and an account executive gaining a variety of marketing and advertising skills. During that time, I realized that I had a knack for helping businesses uncover their brand story, and to rethink their marketing approach.
In April 2015 I started Strategic Partners Marketing with the goal of being a different kind of marketing firm for clients, the kind that is forward thinking, strategic, practical and accessible. Today my team has grown with 3 total employees and 4-6 subcontractors as needed for projects. In November I enrolled my first students and launched an online marketing course through Amberdella Consulting. There isn’t a short answer to what got me here today; every experience at every point in my journey has played a part in shaping who I am and what my goals are for the future.
DG: What made you decide to start your business?
1) A desire to shape what I believe in. There were things with the “corporate world,” that didn’t jive well with me. I wanted to work for myself. I’m an extremely hard worker and I figured, if I’m going to work this hard (admittedly making decent money), why not work this hard to build something that I get to shape and believe in, building the type of culture that I believe will be inspiring to my team and those we work with?
2) I saw a need in the market. While there are several awesome agencies in town, they were all a bit bigger, with higher dollar amounts to work with them. On the other side, there are many consultants and specialists who can help businesses with 1 aspect of their marketing. I saw a need for a comprehensive marketing firm to serve middle range clients who have the need for strategic guidance along with the ability of a marketing team to implement the work. I started SPM as a way to serve this market.
3) Eventually I would like to play more gigs with my band on the road, I knew that working a corporate job with 2 weeks vacation a year wasn’t going to allow the flexibility I will need for the band when we start touring. I’m not afraid of hard work, but I need the flexibility to work where and when it fits with my life. With my job, I can pre-plan and work things out with my team so that I can work from the road if needed and it won’t require me being physically present every day.
DG: What is your biggest accomplishment so far in life and why?
Having the Guts to go for it. I say this because, every day I’m pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. Every day it’s scary. Every day I’m at risk of being ridiculed or critiqued. And I have to do it anyway because I can’t reach my goals if I don’t continue having the guts to go each step, each day. I believe this is a big accomplishment. Too often people have a goal or a great idea but they don’t get past the start-line, due to fear. I am choosing to finally shift my story from Overcoming to Emerging, and the only way to do this is to walk in fear, and be bigger than the fear. To have the Guts to go for it, every day.
DG: What is your biggest accomplishment in your business and why?
Transitioning from a team of Me to We. This is still a transition in progress, and I’m proud of the strides that have been made. It’s very challenging starting a business as a consultant, and transitioning into hiring employees.. it’s like the chicken and egg..what comes first, too much work or the employee? You need money for the employee but you need work to get the money, but there’s only so much work one person can do. I don’t think there’s an easy way to make that transition. I built my clientele, I worked 80 hours a week, and I saved money and have been frugal in what I pay myself so that I could make the transition to hiring employees. I knew that the only way to transition from Me to We is to build a team. I’m grateful that I’ve found talented professionals who were willing to give me a chance. They saw what I’m striving to build, and share a desire to do great work and build something together. In 20 months we’ve gone from a team of 1 to a team of 9 counting employees and contractors, and I’m proud of our team accomplishments.
DG: What is the biggest obstacle that you have face while in business? What is the biggest fear that you have for your business?
This is something I don’t talk about often as it’s surrounded by stress and negativity, however, I’ve learned huge lessons from it. Early on in the business, for some reason, I wavered in my confidence to build the business on my own, and thought that combining strengths with someone else would be the best move for business growth, and for a short while I took on a business partner. The partnership did not work out and didn’t end well. It only lasted 4 months, however, it was a great hardship and huge lessons were learned. I’m grateful that I can look back on that and know what I’ve overcome and that I’ve emerged more confident and knowledgeable. I’m much more empowered and skilled in how to handle business affairs. And I believe in myself and know that I do possess the skills and passion needed for building my business. My self confidence no longer wavers. My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to “turn it off.” I can’t help but put my heart into my business. I feel personally responsible for client results. This is both my strength and weakness. The highs are high, and the lows are low. At times I sacrifice my own health, happiness and family in order to meet client needs, often going well above and beyond what they were promised, but because I feel a deep sense of responsibility for their results and success. I’m seeking to find a balance in my business so that I can continue to care and lead with my heart, without letting issues that pop up, affect my feelings in a way that it ruins the time I should be enjoying with family.
DG: If you could give one quote to live by, what would it be?
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve anything.
DG: What words of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Push yourself beyond your comfort zone as this is where true growth happens. Take a step toward your goals today, every small step counts. A year from now, would you rather look back and be proud that you walked in fear and you took the first step and made progress? Or would you rather regret that you didn’t get started toward your dreams when you wanted to? It’s never too late to start, but you have to take the steps. Day by Day, you can build your dream.
If you would like to know more about Amber please explore her web and social media sites! Friend, like, and share her hard work and celebrate her success with us!
Register to attend the March Doyenne Connect Event to meet and learn more about Amber:
Located at: 995 Applegate Rd, Madison, WI