Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Stephen Custer, Owner of Dry Humor Marketing, located in Salem, OR, USA.

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

I am the owner of Dry Humor Marketing, a digital content marketing agency in Salem, Oregon. I serve small businesses and nonprofit organizations to help them tell stories about their mission, their employees, and their products or services. I do this by creating impactful videos, taking great photos, building customer-centric websites, and helping companies plan their digital marketing strategies.

Tell us about yourself

When I first got started in marketing, I realized that we're the bad guys. Since I have spent most of my career in nonprofits and public service, I decided to use my powers for good. I started consulting for some of my business-owner friends in my free time, and I loved the impact I could have on their strategy just by bringing a fresh set of eyes. I find that many leaders lose sight of the fundamentals, and it's refreshing to remind them of the basics and get them back on track. I started Dry Humor Marketing this past May of 2022. I picked that name because people tell me I have a dry sense of humor. I take that to mean that I think I'm smarter than the next guy, and my jokes aren't funny. I get out of bed each day, ready to help businesses and nonprofits tell their authentic stories with a dash of humor. These stories inspire customers to purchase products and the partners of nonprofits to take action and donate or volunteer.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Simply taking the leap and starting my business. Just about every day, I think, "I should have done this years ago." I hit the ground running, and in my first year full-time running my business, I've found my skills to be in great demand: I've served 25 different satisfied clients! Many of them have paid me the highest compliment of referring those in their networks to me for additional projects.

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

At least starting out, the hardest thing for me has been sacrificing family time. We've had to get a little creative: as I write this, my daughter is sitting in the window seat next to me at my desk. Her interruptions slow things down a little bit, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. My goal is to get to a point very soon where I work more reasonable hours, and the hustle I'm putting in right now is going to pay off.

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

  1. Research, research, research. Every decision you make while setting up your company should be based on good data. If you don't do your research first, you'll waste a lot of time doing the wrong things or doing things inefficiently. Do thorough research, then make good decisions with good data. Watch YouTube videos, visit your competitor's websites and social channels, and even invite your competitors out for coffee! You'll be amazed at what you learn from those who have gone before you.
  2. Write a mission statement, vision statement, and core values for your business. These are not just for nonprofits. Your mission statement is the foundation of what you stand for as a company or organization. Your vision statement, similarly, clearly defines what you want to accomplish as a business. Your core values are the distinctiveness of your business or organization, the things you will never negotiate on. With these three statements as your guide, you'll have clear tracks to run on.
  3. Start small and start soon. You'll learn on the job, so get learning! Pick one part of your business each day and take steps in the right direction. Take small jobs (or even a couple of free ones!) to prove yourself. If you offer quality work and excellent service to your customers, you'll be amazed at how quickly they return... and bring their friends!

Where can people find you and your business?


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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