It's true. We made it. We made it to five years, and I can't say I'm surprised, because I know how hard we've worked, but simultaneously, I'm somewhat at a loss for words. So that'll make the rest of this post a little tricky, but here goes nothing:
More than anything, I'm really humbled.
And this is going to be downright honest and vulnerable.
For those of you who know me, my team, or this company, you know we're go-getters, we make sh*t happen, and we try our damndest to be the best at what we do. But man, it's hard. Every day as a small business owner is a challenge.
The last 18 months have been like taking the plunge on the Tower of Terror (and I don't do terror or rides that make your stomach jump to your throat) all day every day, and we're exhausted. In addition to that, we’re part of an industry with algorithms that change on a daily basis and that rapidly adopts new technologies and, so we're constantly learning and pivoting, and innovating. Which, don't get me wrong, is one of the things I love most about this space, but it also lends itself to so much imposter syndrome, it's insane.
We exist in an industry that is constantly asking us to do something that has never been done before—repeatedly. The gist of imposter syndrome is feeling inadequate or fraudulent in your capabilities to perform/achieve/accomplish.
So as we are constantly being asked to innovate and pioneer and do new things we're naturally prone to question if we're any good at them because there's no proven roadmap and they've, in many cases, never been done before. This perpetual circle we live in is RIPE for imposter syndrome. Woof. Amiright?
All of that being said, here we are.
We are here because we are smart, capable, creative, and resilient.
We’re problem solvers and innovators.
Roughly 20% of small businesses are women-owned. About 19% of small businesses employ other people. And depending on which study you look at, only about 50-60% of small businesses hit the five-year mark. So taking a few liberties here, we're in the 2% of women-owned small businesses that employ others and have hit the five-year mark. And we haven't just hit it, we're owning it.
A few highlights from the last five years:
- We were just named the 26th largest advertising agency in the Milwaukee area by the Milwaukee Business Journal.
- We've won six international awards along with numerous regional and national accolades.
- We have six employees in addition to our dozen contractors and dedicated web development team.
- The majority of our core team members have all been with us for two or three years (40-60% of our existence).
- We have supported and promoted dozens of local women-owned small businesses with the launch of The Brainchild Fund in 2019.
- We have supported global nonprofits such as AnitaB.org.
- We have supported national and international brands: four years with O-Cedar and two years with Paylocity.
- We have spoken at national conferences.
- We have published three years of Millennial Mom proprietary research.
- We have pivoted, productized services, and built strategic partnerships.
I started this company because I wanted to create a space for women to have the opportunities to have fulfilling careers, strong families, and pursue personal growth. I wanted to create a supportive space for women to build the futures they dream for themselves and their families.
I started this company in the space between the refrigerator and the wall at a 2-ft wide standing desk in my one-bedroom apartment in Chicago.
I knew this company needed to exist, I knew it needed to be built, but I never dreamed that it could be or would be known on an international level. And while I hoped, I never took the time to reflect on the change we've created and the opportunities that do exist now because we exist.
All the success we've had and the change we've created was a team effort. So I'd like to take a moment to call out a few folks and companies who have been so pivotal in our growth as a small business.
- Fiona Odomuosu of O-Cedar for believing in us and allowing us to sign our first national account in less than a year of business. You'll never know how grateful I am to you.
- June Pinyo of Paylocity for being the best advocate bringing us with her to two companies and continuing to champion us internally. You are the best.
- Robert Read of AnitaB.org for allowing us the opportunity to expand our capabilities and build two websites over 300 pages each that reach international audiences.
- Mary Bruce and the BA Women's Alliance team for showing us true partnership and passion for the work we do.
- Drew McLellan of Agency Management Institute for always being a beacon of light, truth, and kindness. Your generosity has been life-changing.
- The Stevie Awards for your overwhelming response in acknowledging our efforts with five international awards—two of them gold.
- Wendy Baumann and the WWBIC team for your unwavering partnership and support in making The Brainchild Fund a reality.
- Scott Snider of Exit Planning Institute for your partnership and support in growing Brainchild Studios in new ways we never imagined.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg for being the heart of everything we do. I know we'll never make the impact you have in the world, but know that we carry you in the heart we bring to every project and every declaration for equality from now until forever.
- My family. Thank you for not judging me too harshly and still loving me when I talk in my sleep and cry over cash flow restraints.
- The Brainchild Studios team. I've said it before and I'll say it countless times moving forward, it will never be lost on me the amount of time, talent, dedication, and heart you give to this organization day after day. Your belief in me as your leader is the most humbling experience of my entire life. Leading this team is a gift. You are all so cherished.
Thank you to every client, every community member, every team member—you are why we made it to five years. We have grown so much over the last year, let alone the last five. The gratitude I feel on a daily basis is overwhelming. Thank you for allowing us to do the work we do and I can't wait for the next five years! We have a lot of exciting things in store, so stay tuned!
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