Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Stephanie Smith, Founder of Cogwheel Marketing™️, located in Boston, MA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Cogwheel Marketing™️ is a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in branded hotels. We know how to leverage brand systems and then couple that with supplemental strategies to maximize total online presence. Our reporting and BI tool, Cogwheel Analytics, aggregates data from multiple sources to allow companies to identify trends and opportunities in their online presence. Our defined processes ensure the best positioning for your hotel against the comp set and against other hotels of the same brand. Our team of strategists sets us apart; they work in conjunction with the sales and revenue management teams to identify and close the gaps and target your ideal guests. Other expertise includes assisting in over 75 openings and conversions.

Tell us about yourself

I've always had a passion for hotels, and I got to a point in my career at the VP level where I didn't think another company was going to offer "greener grass." I thrive when I'm being challenged and needed to be in an environment that fosters that daily. We try to incorporate #alwaysbelearning into our company culture and hire for that desire as well.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Surviving? Ha. Every day is a roller coaster. Every day is a new challenge. Every stage of business has new hurdles. Then throw in a global pandemic. Why not?

Culture is something you work towards, but it is not tangible. And, each person has their own perspective, so you never know if yours is properly aligned. We just had our first in-person team retreat (8 people) - most of whom had never met in person. We had a 3rd party conduct a few workshops, and I was so pleased to hear the company culture and vision were actually quite aligned with what I wanted it to be. Not perfect, but it definitely gives a feeling of accomplishment.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Managing people. While I've struggled in many areas, you can find anyone to do accounting, sales, etc. I'm at a place where I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I try to hire to those weaknesses. But, still, most people have different ways of learning, communicating, defining success, wanting to be motivated, and more. It is extremely complex, and again, there lies those differences in perception. I strive to ask questions and communicate the conclusions I have drawn based on my data set, then ask the employee to do the same. Often, they are quite different.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Deposit before you take. This goes for potential clients and employees.
  2. Embrace failing. If you are not failing, you are not learning.
  3. Utilize contractors wisely. Decide where you, as an individual, add the most value, then find people to complement that.
  4. Find other entrepreneurs via Masterminds, LinkedIn, or in your community, even outside your industry.
  5. Find a lawyer. Have them draw up an MSA (Master Services Agreement) and SOW (Scope of Work). Check-in and keep them close.

For more tips for new entrepreneurs, see my LinkedIn article.

Where can people find you and your business?

Website (News):
LinkedIn (Personal):
LinkedIn (Company):

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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