I started my company in 2009 in Baltimore, MD. I was a couple years out of college, and had had 2 jobs. One was absolutely amazing, it was an advertising agency in Las Vegas, Nevada. My dad grew up there and I still had family roots, so I decided to take the job offer even though it was across the country. I learned SO MUCH. I loved it. When I decided to more to Baltimore, I moved in to my aunt’s townhouse in Canton, and found a job after the fact. Being a little more desprit for money, rather than a good fit, I took a temp position and then a full-time position at a dental marketing consulting company. Truth be told, the work was a little dry. No one was coming up with amazing conceptual campaigns like in Las Vegas and there were no perks to the job, like dancing on stage with the Beach Boys at Mandalay Bay, like the last job. I was BORED.
So, along with two friends, I started Lime Creative. The partners didn’t last (that was my first lesson that not everyone has what it takes to go it alone), I moved to Rochester, and I learned really quickly what I had to do to survive with my new business.
My fears were simple. I never thought I’d make enough money to live on. What if no one wanted to hire me? What if they thought I was too young to handle their marketing? All this fear fueled the fire and I worked 24/7 for the next 18 months doing jobs for far too cheap and working hours that no one would be able to maintain long term. Eventually I emerged with a solid, loyal client base, that to my surprise, valued my out of the box thinking, my dedication to their success, and commitment to giving them my very best.
A big consideration was how to brand myself throughout this process. I had started with two partners, but now it was just me? Should I rename my company? Should I tell potential clients that they’re JUST getting me? Back then the answer was that I should brand myself as a company. Over the next 6 years I made connections and built a network of creatives that I could always rely on. If I had a restaurant who needed food photography, I had a few great photographers in my pocket, and I would be at the shoot, in an art director capacity. What about if they wanted a complex members website built from scratch? I had 1-2 programmers in my pocket who were wizards of code and I knew I could bring them on my team to execute the project with me. And it all worked! I never mislead anyone, I just branded myself as the Creative Director and boasted of my ability to bring a custom creative team to whatever project they needed handled. And that’s still what I do. I think using other independent contractors is the way to go! I can handpick the copywriter, photographer, videographer, programmer, etc that will fit best for my client. The fit is a combination of personality, skill set, budget, schedule and turn around time.
What I have come to realize though, is that the client isn’t getting ‘JUST me’, they’re getting ME, and that is that most valuable thing I have to offer. Lime Creative is Reagan Burns. And that is marketable. So I shifted my branding, and still am.
I changed my facebook business page to my headshot instead of my logo. I changed my personal profile picture to the same image. The amount of likes and comments I received was 10x larger than what it usually is for my daily, off the cuff posts.
And I changed my cover image-and will continue to do so. I had recently conducted an interview with Rusted Root on Facebook Live. The concept incorporating Facebook Live interviews into the social media strategy of the large festival I was working on was mine. I constructed the format, location, dialogue concept and the execution.
The best thing about owning your own business is being the captain of the ship. Who knows where my brand will go? The most important part to me is to be flexible and ever-evolving, while keeping the most valuable parts, like hard work, consistent.