Forward – StartStrong

This week's episode feature's Shauna Archer, owner and founder of Start Strong Marketing. Shauna is a 2nd generation agency owner who has built her success on taking life's various ups and downs and finding the best path forward. Having had to navigate a number of obstacles in her career, Shauna actually started her business full time in the midst of the COVID pandemic.  Shauna made the best of an unfortunate circumstance by investing in herself and setting herself up for success once the economy began to turn around.

Company: StartStrong Marketing

Owners: Shauna Archer

Year Started: 2018

Employees: 1 – 10

In the bustling world of marketing agencies, where creativity and business acumen converge, “An Agency Story” podcast stands as a beacon for those intrigued by the roller coaster journey of agency ownership. Among its rich tapestry of episodes, “Forward,” featuring Shauna Archer, shines as a particularly engaging narrative that encapsulates the essence of perseverance, innovation, and the undeniable spirit of entrepreneurship.

Shauna Archer, a second-generation agency owner and the brain behind StartStrong Marketing, takes the listener on a voyage through her agency’s inception, challenges, and triumphs. The episode is a testament to the idea that success in the agency world requires not just skill and expertise, but also an unwavering belief in the value of starting strong. Through a blend of personal anecdotes, professional insights, and a clear vision for the future, Shauna embodies the resilience and optimism that define the entrepreneurial journey.

The episode delves deep into the themes of agency growth, client relations, and the importance of a niche focus in the ever-evolving marketing landscape. With Shauna’s unique perspective as a multi-generational agency owner, listeners are treated to a blend of timeless wisdom and modern strategies. Her story is punctuated with moments of humor, poignant reflections, and invaluable lessons gleaned from both successes and setbacks.

Highlights include Shauna’s candid recounting of transitioning from the corporate world to agency life, the emotional impact of her family’s agency’s closure, and her path to founding StartStrong Marketing. Each narrative thread is woven with the intent to inspire, educate, and remind us of the human element behind every business venture.

Listeners are left contemplating the balance between professional ambition and personal fulfillment, the importance of adaptability in business, and the transformative power of facing adversity with grace and optimism. “Forward” is not just a story of a marketing agency; it’s a rallying cry for anyone standing at the crossroads of their career, encouraging them to move forward with courage and conviction.

Tune into this episode of “An Agency Story” to embark on a journey with Shauna Archer, where the lessons of the past illuminate the path to a future filled with possibility and promise. Whether you’re an aspiring agency owner, a seasoned entrepreneur, or simply someone in search of inspiration, “Forward” promises a compelling narrative that resonates with the relentless pursuit of excellence and the enduring spirit of innovation.


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Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to an agency story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world, from the excitement of starting on the first big sale. Passion doubt. Fear, freedom, and the emotional roller coaster of growth. Hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach enjoy the next agency story.

[00:00:38] Russel: Hello everyone. I’m your host Russel. Welcome to another episode of An Agency Story. Today’s guest is the talented, multi-generational agency owner and founder of StartStrong Marketing, Shauna Archer. I absolutely love Shawn’s story because it’s such an inspirational reminder of how important it is to remain optimistic in spite of all the ups and downs that come with owning an [00:01:00] agency.

[00:01:00] Enjoy the story.

[00:01:04] Welcome. I have Shauna Archer with StartStrong Marketing here today. Someone I’ve known for a good long time now, and I’m so excited, thank you for being on the show here today, Shauna. 

[00:01:14] Shauna: Oh, Russel, I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me. 

[00:01:17] Russel: Yes, I’m very excited about our conversation, so let’s just get right to it.

[00:01:21] Start off by, if you don’t mind just telling us what is Start Strong? When did it start? What do you stand for? Give us the, give us 411. 

[00:01:29] Shauna: We’re getting ready to have our fourth birthday in September. 

[00:01:32] Russel: Congratulations. 

[00:01:32] Shauna: Thank you. We’re really excited about that and we started as an agency to help other businesses, brand and launch in their respective marketplaces.

[00:01:43] So as the name may imply, Start Strong, we want to help businesses develop their look and feel. Sometimes we even help them name themselves if they’re trying to come up with something that’s really meaningful for their brand and what it is that they do. But most of the time we’re working with clients that [00:02:00] are in the B2B space and we get really excited about helping them. carve out their own niche and find their voice and find their place. 

[00:02:09] Russel: That’s awesome. Naming can be such a hard part of the process. You could spend days on it and probably not feel great about it. It’s good to know you’re out there helping folks do that.

[00:02:18] Shauna: It’s a little bit like naming somebody’s baby, you know? Oh yeah. People’s businesses, especially when starting a business is hard, and financing a business is hard, and there’s a lot of stress and struggle. We’re trying to help them name their child and it very much is a collaborative event. But we’ve been successful at it. And like you said, it usually takes a good amount of time to, to really find the right name. 

[00:02:39] Russel: Right. I love that analogy. Naming your baby. 

[00:02:41] So you’re in a unique class of founders a little bit. I don’t come across a lot of folks that necessarily have the same situation, but you’re a second generation founder. Tell us what that was like coming up with your parents, having an agency and that being a significant part of your life.

[00:02:55] Shauna: Yeah, it was. You know, Russel, when my parents started, they kind of [00:03:00] fell into the agency. Not too dissimilar to how I have actually, but they started their agency in the nineties and they were very much focused on technology and the .com world that they were in at that time. That was their background, was technology and helping bring products to market.

[00:03:18] And it was the most boring thing I’d ever heard of and I wanted nothing to do with it when I was growing up. Both my parents were involved in the business for 25 years and so they had a lot of big name clients. They ran a very tight ship and had specific and high expectations for how the agency was to run and the way that we serviced our clients.

[00:03:37] And I say “our clients.” I didn’t join their agency until 2008 and they started it in 1995, I believe. So for a good long while, I was just the beneficiary of their income and how good and successful their agency was. But I did make that switch in 2008 to go join them and worked with them for almost nine years in that agency.

[00:03:59] Russel: [00:04:00] Oh, that’s very cool. Or maybe we’ll get to that later on how cool that was. You know, I can honestly not imagine doing something like that with my parents, but that’s, that’s probably more on me. What were you doing in your career kind of before that point? Who was the Shauna before agency life? 

[00:04:14] Shauna: I went to college and graduated with a degree in merchandising and marketing. I really wanted to be a corporate buyer. That was my aspiration. I wanted to go work on the corporate buying side and, and help procure and identify trends in fashion specifically.

[00:04:32] And so I worked about 10 years doing that in various capacities. I spent some time at Zales. I was at Fossil. I was at Columbia Sportswear working with those teens and merchandising and in marketing to really influence the retail channel.

[00:04:48] So the whole marketing channel, at that point, it wasn’t so much online. There was so much going on at the retail store, and that’s where I cut my teeth. I learned consumer behaviors and, and [00:05:00] fashion trends and bringing those products through that channel and things started to migrate a little bit more. Having those eCommerce outlets and having that full kind of omnichannel that exists now today. 

[00:05:10] I really didn’t have any exposure to the agencies that those larger companies employed. While I. In those roles, it wasn’t in my purview, so I had no idea what the agencies were doing when I was working at Fossil, Columbia Sportswear. It wasn’t in my day to day.

[00:05:26] Russel: That had to be quite the transition.

[00:05:28] So then it doesn’t sound like you grew up in the agency world from your parents and said, “This is what I’m gonna do someday.” And in fact, it sounds like maybe quite the opposite. When was that decision that maybe this was a path you’re gonna go down? Was that the second you started working for your parents’ agency or tell us how you kind of evolved into that.

[00:05:46] Shauna: I went and did the “Take your daughter to Work” day with my mom, several times. And she was very much a mover and shaker in the technology sector. A lot of people knew her. A lot of people [00:06:00] knew her at big companies. She had a fan base. 

[00:06:01] Everything that she did was really just over the top. She serviced over the top. The creative was over the top. Everyone just knew her guidance and her counsel. She did a lot of consulting for a lot of big companies, and honestly, Russel, whenever I first when I did the “Come Take Your Daughter to Work” day, it was just a snooze to me.

[00:06:20] I was like, this is so boring. We’re talking about software here. We’re talking about Ingram Micro and all of these what…

[00:06:28] Russel: Binary code? 

[00:06:29] Shauna: I mean, yeah. Why is this important? You know we were still on Dialup modem back then, and so there was a whole lot of gibber jabber about all these speeds and stuff.

[00:06:38] And I’m like, Are you kidding me? Who? This is so boring. I wanted nothing to do with it. And on top of that, Russel, whenever I’d go to work with them and having those small little windows of exposure. The people were so weird. There would be these different types of folks and I was like, I don’t understand what they’re saying. What are they trying to do? It was just so foreign. 

[00:06:58] As I started my career, because it [00:07:00] just wasn’t a road that I wanted to take. That changed for me when the Great recession came and I was a new mom and my job was moving to Portland, Oregon and it just wasn’t gonna be a move that I could take at the time.

[00:07:15] And so, my parents, of course, they were doing great. They were signing on new business with a big telecom company. They were launching mobile devices, which sounded like the most boring thing in the world to me. But I thought, okay, well this is a job and it looks like it’s got some stability, and I’ll go do this for a couple years when, when retail turns back around…

[00:07:37] I’ll move back over and go back to the job that I like. 

[00:07:39] Russel: Just temporary, just for the record. 

[00:07:40] Shauna: Just temporary. Mm-hmm. And that paned out not to be the case. 

[00:07:44] Russel: Kind of sounds like you slowly evolved into where you’re doing your own agency full time.

[00:07:49] What was really where you recall one of the first big wins that kind of really impacted your trajectory and decided I really want to have my own agency and this is the path I’m gonna go.

[00:07:58] Shauna: That happened just [00:08:00] recently within the past couple of years. But, even when I started down the road and learning the ropes in the agency world, it took quite a bit of time. It was obviously very different from being in corporate retail.

[00:08:12] So my, my thoughts of success and wins were at a very big scale because, being in retail, working with these big retail giants, big consumer brands, big name brands. That had always been my world. And when I transitioned over to agency, they had some really big name telecom clients. But really then my wins started to really change what those looked like. It took a couple of very difficult years to learn what was going on in agency.

[00:08:38] The vernacular itself was different. What the job roles were all different. And so my definition of success and how that started to look really started to change as I became more familiar with the agency life and what those wins really look like. 

[00:08:54] When I started Start Strong, I didn’t start it thinking it [00:09:00] was going to be a marketing agency. In fact, I had become a little jaded honestly. After going through some of the trauma we went through with my parents’ agency closing. I wanted it to be more of a an operational prowess type of organization.

[00:09:14] That’s where I really loved the behind the scenes work at the agency was bringing all the operational pieces together and being very successful in that. So when I started Start Strong, that’s what it looked like. I didn’t have any money and I ended up working in another agency so that I could start to finance as Start Strong and I really just worked two jobs for a couple of years.

[00:09:39] The first big win though came in a package that looked very much like a marketing opportunity and it was with a city here in north Texas. They had contacted a common acquaintance of mine saying that they needed somebody to help with some videos and they didn’t know where to turn.

[00:09:58] And I was like, well, I [00:10:00] know all the people that we need to make these videos for you. Let’s partner and let’s get these videos off. So I went in and I pitched it and I got it and I thought, Oh my gosh, that was so much fun and I can’t wait to do these videos, and how soon can I do this again?

[00:10:15] And so, it ended up feeling like a big win, but it was really a push. It was a push for me in considering how Start Strong could meet the needs of other small businesses and other places to shore up deliverables and projects that they don’t have the staff to do.

[00:10:30] Russel: I love that. That’s one of my favorite parts about these stories. It’s just this series of nudges along the way.

[00:10:36] You mentioned something there that I know probably using the word trauma and I know that’s probably a very, a tough situation that your parents’ agency had to eventually close its doors. I can only imagine how hard that would’ve been for them and then for you. If you don’t mind sharing kind of what happened and how that came to be.

[00:10:53] Shauna: We were writing high for a long time and because the the clientele at [00:11:00] the agency was in telecom and it was right when smartphones were launching. It was very, gang busters. 

[00:11:07] Russel: I bet. 

[00:11:08] Shauna: A lot of consumer demand. There was a lot of demand for this particular client of ours to create videos and content around informing the public about what these phones can do. What they’re all about.

[00:11:19] Russel: What is a smartphone? What the heck? 

[00:11:20] Shauna: Yeah, yeah. What is that? What does Google play mean? So there was all kinds of work to be had in those years when the smartphones launched. And so we ended up becoming the agency that was really all about helping launch these phones and train the public and train carrier partners on how the phones operate and how they work.

[00:11:40] And with that came a dwindling of other clients, but a growing of this one client. We became very singular on just having that one client to sustain the agency. Even though it was very lucrative, it was still very dangerous and we all knew that it was, but we were kept so busy.

[00:11:57] It just really didn’t allow for a lot [00:12:00] of time to go fill a pipeline or sell the agency in other sectors. Because we were so swamped servicing this one. And unfortunately what happened, Russel, without disclosing too many of the details around it. But there was a PR issue that this client had with regards to one of their devices. And it became such a big issue for them that many of the lines of revenue that we had tied to the client almost overnight dried up because they had to pull back. Make some quality control changes on their end and really, it affected about a full quarter’s worth of work for us. The agency at that time was about 30 or 40 employees, so we’re not huge by any means, but there was still, quite a bit of staff that relied on the client and the constant work that we had.

[00:12:51] So at that point in time, my parents had to make the very difficult decision to either continue to finance themselves. Because we weren’t we were [00:13:00] fully cash run agency. We didn’t have an LOC and we didn’t borrow money. They had to make the decision whether or not they were gonna finance it through their own finances or if they made to make that difficult decision to go ahead and shutter.

[00:13:13] So it was very, it was very painful, Russel. It really was. It was a place where I had planned to retire. That the succession plan would be there for me to, to come in and, and take on when they were ready to retire. And that was really what was understood there at the agency.

[00:13:29] And so to everyone’s shock. It went a very different direction and it was a little bit like going through a grief. It was almost like going through a death. We had had this company, this baby of ours since 1995 and watching it die so quickly. It was very difficult. It was very difficult for the family and the family dynamic and obviously for all of the families and the employees who were affected by that.

[00:13:50] It was a very hard, hard time. 

[00:13:52] Russel: I’m very sorry you had to go through that and I sincerely appreciate you sharing that story. And hopefully, so the folks listening out [00:14:00] there, the lesson to be learned about that Gorilla client and that’s certainly a known blessing and whatever you wanna call it, bane in our industry. But knowing the positive person you are, I can’t imagine. I’d love to hear what were your takeaways from the lessons learned in that process and how you applied and approached them to your own agency? 

[00:14:18] Shauna: It’s interesting, I’ve always been a person of faith, but when we went through that period of time I had never really been through grief per se. So invested in emotionally and mentally, professionally and with our family. I went through I think some of those stages of grief that maybe all of us go through at some point in their life. I found myself really shocked. Even trying to go think about getting a new job somewhere was crippling to [00:15:00] me.

[00:15:00] I’ve always been very confident and comfortable talking to people, and I’ve changed jobs two or three times over my career. Was always good about figuring out how to strategically make those moves, but I felt myself, almost just struggling to get through the day and to think. “What I’m gonna do on Friday”, let alone what does the rest of my career look like. It feels like it’s all fallen apart. And and so after having gone through that, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what my career was gonna look like. It felt like the rug had just been pulled out. And, and the last thing, honestly, that I really wanted to do, Was to do that again, right?

[00:15:39] So I, I thought, you know, maybe I need to go work for a larger, more established agency. You know, one that’s not that may not be, you know, crippled the way that, that we were. And and so I tried that. Russell, I went and worked for a very large agency here in Dallas. Got a job very fast, great paying job.

[00:15:57] And I was there a week and [00:16:00] realized this is not me. These folks aren’t my people. This isn’t my tribe. And on top of that, there were things that I felt really insecure about that I didn’t do and that we didn’t service our clients with at our agency that these big agencies were doing. And they have been doing them for years.

[00:16:18] And I was like, Oh my gosh, there’s all this stuff that I don’t know and I don’t have time to learn it. And it was very, I felt very insecure about, you know, making that transition from small agency. Very service oriented and very niche focus to this large agency where I’m just at a desk and just doing a job.

[00:16:40] But, you know, the whole media piece that agency was using to service their clients was really foreign to me. I went back to you know, the drawing board really, and said, What the heck am I gonna do here? And that’s when I started working in operations. I found an opportunity to serve another small company, [00:17:00] not in marketing, but a small company that was very well established and I ran their operations. And while I was there, that’s when I had the idea for Start Strong. So it ended up being a blessing. 

[00:17:10] And you can look back in the rear view mirror, see all the things. Happened in the way that they happened and say, Oh my gosh, this was all orchestrated. You could see at every point where the roads were twisting and turning, but where they were all falling. Everything was falling into place. And I would never have had the opportunity or even the thought to come up with Start Strong had I not have had that chance to serve in this operational role and lead their operations for a bit. I wouldn’t have been, you know, influenced to do this and we wouldn’t be sitting here talking today. So it all has turned out to be positive. 

[00:17:46] When you go through these big career disappointments, sometimes people just get really bitter and they get very angry and frustrated. And honestly, you do start to panic a little bit. My family [00:18:00] depends on my income and I’ve got kids to put through school and we’ve got financial obligations we need to meet.

[00:18:06] And so there’s a lot of stress that comes with that. But you do step back and you realize this is a small, this is a small bump in a, in a really long road. 

[00:18:14] Russel: Gosh, I mean, that’s such a, obviously it took some time to get there, but really such a great perspective. And, you know, it’s funny even how we started the conversation about having a business is like naming a baby.

[00:18:24] But you’re exactly right. I mean, you’re investing so much. It might be even sad to say it, especially at the onset or at different times you might be investing more in your business than you would your own children for better or worse. So it absolutely makes sense that you would or anyone would go through stages of grief period in those situations. And then, awesome again to hear what it’s turned into for you and where you can have an impact in other places and lessons learned. Thank you again for sharing that.

[00:18:49] So you, you started your business at a very interesting time in the world to say the least.

[00:18:54] In one of our previous conversations, I really enjoyed how you basically took what were a [00:19:00] lot of lemons being handed out at the time to a positive time period for your agency. Sometimes that can sound bad to speak, right? We’re talking about the pandemic.

[00:19:08] But you know, that’s the choice most people had is when we were dealt this thing and, and how do we deal with it. So yeah, tell us what that was like for you if you don’t mind sharing. 

[00:19:16] Shauna: Well, when the pandemic hit, I was still you know financing Start Strong myself and I was working in another smaller agency where I had taken a job that I could work a little more remote at the time. Which before COVID wasn’t so much a thing.

[00:19:33] Russel: Before remote was cool.

[00:19:35] Shauna: And so it allowed me to work a couple days from home and then be able to have as much free time as I could to do the job at hand that I was doing, but then also work nights and do the things I needed to do to try to get Start Strong off the ground.

[00:19:48] When COVID hit, I found myself in the exact same predicament as I did before where the agency was small, they were very scared. A lot of their [00:20:00] clients were smaller clients. They weren’t the big clients that I had been accustomed to. And I got caught up in cutting of staff and so I went pretty much overnight.

[00:20:09] This thing called COVID came out and we’re all gonna, you know, shelter in place. And then I was like, Well, great, I’ll be sheltering for a long time because now I don’t have a job. So, it was just kind of a double whammy and I thought, I cannot believe I’m here again. This is not, definitely not what I had planned again.

[00:20:28] Right. And I thought, Okay, what am I gonna do here? Because it, it was clear that I was. It was clear that I had to let go of trying to stay employed and get, Start Strong off the ground, that I had to take the leap of faith and I had to, I had to put my whole heart and my whole energy into Start Strong. Because at this point I didn’t have another choice.

[00:20:54] And I had secured this one client that I just mentioned to you about to do their videos for a [00:21:00] city here in North Texas and of course, with COVID, they didn’t wanna do the shoot because it would require the actors and all of us to be together. And that wasn’t gonna work. So the one big win ended up being one big fail.

[00:21:16] And so I was just kind of left sitting here thinking, Okay. Great. Now what? There’s no job I’m gonna be able to go get because of COVID and now I don’t have my big win client that I was gonna move forward with to make this thing a success. So talk about lemons. There was a lot.

[00:21:31] Yes. I spent those first days in COVID honestly doing two things. I decided I was gonna spend my time learning as much as I could about some of the places where I felt like I was deficient. So I went and got some certifications through HubSpot. I did a lot of content marketing training. I did a lot of social media training and SEO training, and then I did a lot of time serving others.

[00:21:54] I got out of my house, I went and loaded up food for a food pantry, and [00:22:00] I said, I’m gonna do the most good that I can do with these hours that I can’t bill for, mm-hmm. I’m putting those hours in another bank, if you will. Within six weeks, Russel, I ended up having a call with a guy and he brought me on with a, a year retainer to come and be their fractional CMO and to help them do all of their branding.

[00:22:19] It was a venture capital startup here in Dallas. And the prayers were answered and it just, it took a little bit of faith and patience. And fortitude to say, Okay, we’re gonna move this thing forward, and by golly, we’re gonna be a success . 

[00:22:33] Russel: I mean, I really love that and hear that home at kids, you know, invest in yourself and give, that sound like some of the secret sauce in that process.

[00:22:41] What fortitude to say, you know, I’m gonna take this time to invest in myself and obviously it’s, paid dividends for you. What’s the vision for yourself, your agency? As life goes on, in many people’s path, we have no clue what the future really holds.

[00:22:55] But as you look at your journey and the agency, what do you think we’ll be talking [00:23:00] about when it comes to Shauna and Start Strong 5 to 10 years from now? 

[00:23:04] Shauna: Well, the circle of life has been very interesting with this story. Because when my parents’ agency closed, they sold the building, which again was also very sad cause we spent so many hours there.

[00:23:18] They sold the building to a woman who had an ESG and environmental social and governance consulting business. And she bought the office and I remember driving away and, and you know, feeling like that was obviously a crossroad as we’ve talked about. And you know, fast forward into just kind of recent days.

[00:23:37] I sent out a marketing email about a year and a half ago, and I kept that woman on my marketing list because I had her email and she was a nice woman and I got to meet her during the transaction of the selling of the property. She responded to that email, which very few people do these days.

[00:23:53] And with the response of that email I received a retainer from her that we’re now in our second year [00:24:00] doing in supporting her initiatives from an ESG perspective. And it has really changed the trajectory for Start Strong. We’ve now added another couple of clients that are in that ESG space.

[00:24:12] We’ve learned all about these initiatives and things that are happening for climate change and social justice and, and diversity and inclusion and things that are happening. And again, these very big institutions that are leading change here in the United States and globally. And our team has become a little bit of these mini experts in the ESG space because of this line of business. And so we are hoping to move that forward. We’re hoping to continue to ingrain ourselves and doing the good that needs to happen in the workplace. And finding places that we can step into. Service with people who are trying to lead these changes and really show what these organizations are doing to be more mindful about their energy and be more mindful about their water consumption and their their [00:25:00] waste and the things that they’re doing to be transparent about that.

[00:25:03] So it’s, it’s interesting. I hope that in the next five years when we sit down to talk again we will have had a, a wonderful road of experience and in a place where we can carve out that says, this is where Start Strong has really been able to help. And these very important causes that are moving towards big net zero goals in 2030, that we had maybe some small part to play in, in helping people achieve these very large objectives.

[00:25:29] Russel: I certainly identify that from, from my own agency story. And one of the things we learned early on, and it wasn’t necessarily the intended path. But we we’re not doctors or we’re not necessarily on the ground solving these world’s problems, but, you know, our clients are.

[00:25:42] And so we have such a power, and especially in a marketing perspective to share that message. So, yes when you’re on take two of the podcast in a few years. I can’t wait to to hear all those awesome stories. 

[00:25:54] So, I mean, what does success look like for you? Do you feel like you’re there? Do you feel like that’s still in front of [00:26:00] you? When that word comes up, what does that look like for you? 

[00:26:04] Shauna: I guess it could be the day of the week. I don’t know. Sometimes you vacillate a little bit. I, I think with, I think with age too, that may change, but you know, I used to consider success to be a lot of money in the bank and a, a lot of people standing outside my door.

[00:26:17] As a business owner that does look really different. Again, I’ve learned to be very conservative and by the experiences of watching my parents and being very close to their operational side of the agency you know, I’ve been able to keep the business going healthy.

[00:26:33] Bring in new staff, put money where I need to, but make sure that we’re really secure in making all of our financial commitments that we need to make and giving as much as we can away. And and I wanna continue that. You know, I don’t have a dollar figure, I don’t want necessarily to be multimillionaire, I wanna do the most good. And, and if that means, you know, bringing on really good talent so I can help people start their careers find their path forward, [00:27:00] being able to, you know, help help them meet their financial obligations for their family and their desires and giving back to my community.

[00:27:08] Those are things to me that feel successful. I have been very fortunate. I have been very fortunate and very blessed to have people entrust me with their brand and entrust us with their work. And, and as long as I feel like I’m stewarding their work well and I’m servicing them well. And making really wise decisions with the money they give us and the work we do for them, that feels successful to me. If you would’ve asked me this question six months ago, I might have had a different answer. I might have said, Gosh, it depends on how many clients I have, but really that’s not the case. I went most, all the year this year without having many new clients.

[00:27:44] And I’ve had three new clients in the past 30 days. It’s successful, it’s gonna be busy, but really it, it helps me facilitate some of these other goals to me that are successful. Which is helping, which is really helping others get started with their careers, continuing their [00:28:00] careers and giving back to charities and organizations that are in my community.

[00:28:04] And I feel like that’s, to me, that’s successful, 

[00:28:07] Russel: I cannot argue with that one tiny bit. So as we wrap up here, the quintessential question, I love to hear how people answer is are entrepreneurs born or are they made? 

[00:28:18] Shauna: Oh my gosh. Well, I guess if you were to ask my mom and the people who grew up with me, I was always very bossy.

[00:28:25] But I never had aspirations to own a company. But , but I also always went to work in all of the companies and organizations. And I would look around and I would say, I can do that better . Or, or, you know, why are they doing it that way? That’s self-destructive. So I don’t know. I guess maybe in my sense I was made.

[00:28:43] I have tendencies of you know, having some of those leadership qualities, I suppose. But really I, I kept my opportunities and my options open and I went through the doors that were opened for me and, you know, and it’s led me where we are [00:29:00] today. I never in a million years would’ve thought, Oh my gosh, my, my dream that I’m gonna chase is to be this marketing agency owner and, and do all this social media and stuff.

[00:29:11] So, you know, waking up and saying, Oh my gosh, I wanna do this marketing stuff and you know, be a social media company or whatever. That wasn’t my dream. My dream is to do the best with where I am today. And, and today I’m leading a great team and we have some amazing clients who are doing, you know, big work.

[00:29:29] And so, you know, that’s my, my dream is to, is to do it well. And whatever that looks like tomorrow or 10 years from now, I’ll continue just to do it well. 

[00:29:42] Russel: Amen to that. So if people wanna find out more about Start Strong, where do they go? Tell ’em where to go, Shauna. 

[00:29:49] Shauna: Ah, well, of course we have website and our website is

[00:29:55] We do have social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. And any of my contact [00:30:00] information is out there, so, you know, happy to connect with anyone who may have some questions. We love to bring in talent. A lot of our freelancers are from bigger agencies, or they’re themselves, you know, self-employed.

[00:30:13] And so I connect with a lot of people who are in different disciplines throughout marketing, you know, whatever their skill may be, whether it’s design or web development or app development or whatever it may be. Always looking to grow my network where it comes to really good talent, who has a passion for doing these things that we do.

[00:30:30] Russel: Well, you heard it, folks. I can tell you, you will absolutely enjoy the conversation. So feel free to reach out to Shauna’s company and as to the point of this whole story today, you never know where it might lead. Well, thank you so much for being here today, Shauna.

[00:30:43] There’s just so many takeaways that I have and everybody else seeing your story and so many great things you’re doing out there. Thank you so much for being on the show. 

[00:30:52] Shauna: Thank you, Russell, for having me. I loved it. I’m so glad you’re doing this.

[00:30:55] And it, it means a lot to, to me, to connect with you and have a chance to [00:31:00] share our story too. 

[00:31:01] Russel: I am actually truly humble and, and grateful to have you on the show and I look forward to watching your continued success.

[00:31:10] Outro: We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to 

[00:31:27] An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction.

[00:31:31] Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million and more in revenue. To learn more, visit

[00:31:46] Shauna: Oh my gosh. So speaking of the changing times. I was, I went back to that, you know, office that our, our client, our ESG consulting client has now. It used to be mine or it used to be my parents. And then I go [00:32:00] there regularly and we have meetings there a lot. And so I was sitting in the conference room that I sat in for years and it’s a very beautiful building, you know, real modern and, you know, of course it’s, it’s LEED certified and they have air quality and plants.

[00:32:16] I mean, it, it’s very ESG friendly and so I’m sitting in the conference room, having a meeting with the creative manager. There is a nice meeting. She’s wonderful. But she pulls out a vape during our meeting and starts taking a few drags and and I’m sitting there, my account supervisor is sitting there with me and we are, You know, it wasn’t a particularly stressful meeting by any, you know, it’s just covering, you know, status and I’m just watching and it’s just as natural as can be.

[00:32:44] And I thought that is something I have never seen for in any of the meetings I have ever been in an any of my career. Have I ever been sitting in a conference room where someone actually pulls out something to smoke and, and after. , [00:33:00] that initial shock. A lot of the meetings thereafter have the, the vape has returned and so, you know, whether it’s a, we’re having a zoom meeting or we’re there in person.

[00:33:08] I thought it was the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen. And I mean, it was all I could do not to just bust out laughing. And she was just so nonchalant about it. And I thought, Okay, girl, well if that’s what, if that’s what helps you get through the meeting, I’m gonna keep drinking. And, you know, we’re just gonna, that’s all, that’s all well and good.

[00:33:24] But it was pretty it was pretty surprising. And I guess maybe something that just is a sign of the changing times. 

[00:33:31] Russel: I’m sure there could be a lot worse things. It just makes me almost think once you watch the show Mad Men. We’ve got our drink table in the conference room, and we’ve got our cigarette, you know, it’s standard place to have cigarettes.

[00:33:40] It’s like also trends. They all circle back around. So we’ll see. We’ll see how, how that, how that comes. But That’s awesome. That’s so funny.