If you’re an entrepreneur looking for some inspiration, Jenn Maggiore is the perfect person to help. The 35-year-old Scottsdale resident is the owner of Red Balloon, a business consultant company with a strong focus on digital marketing. Maggiore does everything from coaching business owners to marketing for non-profits, as well as lending her public speaking skills to conferences and local news outlets. Maggiore is putting on the Always This Good Live conference Saturday, September 21, where she’ll be hosting a bevy of inspirational speakers who will be sharing their business expertise with local entrepreneurs. Keep reading for what got her interested in consulting and marketing, and scroll down to hear Maggiore say five reasons why she loves living in the Valley.
What brought you to Arizona?
My high school sweetheart, Joe. He graduated the year before me, and we didn’t talk for five years. I found him on a high school reunion site, he sent me a plane ticket, and we had a great week together. He asked if I’d ever consider moving away from Florida, so I went home and told my parents I was dropping out of college, breaking the lease on my apartment, and moving 2,000 miles away. My mom always loved Joe, but my dad wasn’t so thrilled. It all has a happy ending, though. Joe and I got married, and most of my family followed me out here to Arizona. When can I say, I’m a trendsetter.
What made you want to go into business consultancy?
I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and specifically had an interest in building businesses. I graduated with my business marketing degree from the University of Phoenix, and it gave me the courage to follow my entrepreneurial whims. I thought I could help business owners best by consulting for them directly through my own business, rather than working for someone else.
What has the evolution of your business been like?
I started offering freelance marketing services working from home when my first son was a baby. I did a lot of networking and asking clients for referrals, and the business grew quickly. I partnered with a graphic designer, and we started hiring more people, web developers, SEO experts, and social media managers, and the business grew and grew until we needed to get an office.
Then, in 2009 everything changed. All in one year, I had a miscarriage, started having the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and then our (at the time) two-year-old son had emergency surgery for a very large brain tumor. I realized that my priorities weren’t in the right order. I was working too many hours, I wasn’t spending as much time with my family as I would have liked, and, ultimately, my life was driven by obligation to my business. Obligation to pay the rent, obligation to pay my staff, obligation to my clients who called my cell phone days, nights and weekends. I was chasing money for corporate America, and I didn’t know how to get out of it.
One day, I had a conversation with my partner and told her I couldn’t do it anymore. I was overwhelmed, tired, and unfulfilled, and I suspected she felt the same.
How did you name your company?
I knew at that point I needed to make a big change. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do, or how I would pay the bills, but I didn’t want to own a big marketing company anymore.
I read an article in which the author described how people offer intentions to the universe, and we pray, but we do all this asking, but we don’t wait for an answer. She went on to say that if you’re very specific about the question you have with the sign you’re looking for, you will likely get an answer. Her example was a red balloon.
I asked the universe, “OK, should I really do this? Close my ‘successful’ marketing company and do something completely different? Follow my passion for supporting the people and organizations I believed in through consulting and mentoring?” If so, I put it out to the universe that I’d like a red balloon. A few days went by, and there was nothing.
One Saturday morning, we were struggling to get our kids out the door to soccer practice, brushing teeth, finding lost shoes. We got there a little late, settled in, and sat down on the grass as the kids played. Then I looked up, and there it was. One teeny, tiny red balloon way up in the sky. I got chills. I got my answer. The rest is history.
You work with a lot of nonprofit/cause-based businesses. Why is this sector important to you?
Throughout my career I’ve always wanted to support social and health causes I believe in, especially revolving around issues that had touched me personally — supporting women and children, and organizations who support patients with, or funding cures for, brain tumors, arthritis, ALS, and more.
Unfortunately, many of the organizations are underfunded and can’t afford quality marketing or operational consulting. I figured, if I was going to close down my successful company and be broke for a while, I might as well be broke, and offer a meaningful contribution to my community.
I’ve been offering free services to several organizations for the last year. We help them to find meaningful and relevant ways to connect with their audiences, and effective ways to amplify their messages.
What’s your typical week like?
Crazy, but usually good crazy. My husband owns a real estate firm, and we run both our businesses from the same office suite so we can stay involved in each others’ work. We spend the day meeting with our teams, and meeting with clients.
One night a week, I’m in a personal development program at The Center for Intuitive Development in Phoenix. It helps to keep me grounded and focused. I spend a lot of time supporting others in working through their issues and holding them accountable. They offer me the support system I need to work on my own stuff and they hold me accountable.
Who should use a business coach?
Coaches and mentors are useful if you have momentum but have hit a roadblock. You feel stuck, you’re not making progress, or you’ve become unclear on your goals. They are a great way to get the support and clarity you need for forward movement.
Who should become an entrepreneur, and what makes a great one?
Anyone can be an entrepreneur, really. I think it’s more about figuring out what product or service you are passionate about, and what you can do better or different than anyone else. Then, think about what size company you want, if you envision yourself working on your business or in your business, if you want to manage staff, or work closely with clients. The answers to these questions will give you some clues about the kind of business you’ll enjoy creating and likely be successful at building.
What will people learn from your Always This Good Live conference?
Always This Good Live for 2013 will focus on what it takes to be successful in business today. Huge numbers of generations X and Y are starting businesses. We’re looking for financial security, but we’re also a very conscious generation. We’re looking for meaning and fulfillment, to feel like we’ve changed the world for the better. We aren’t about tactical advice, since there is already a lot of that out there. We’re about fresh perspectives on finding your purpose, feeling fulfilled, facing your fears, and building relationships. What does a successful entrepreneur look like today, and how do we get there? This is the central theme of the event. More details and tickets are available at alwaysthisgood.com.
What’s the key to striking a great work/life balance?
Prioritize without compromise — it has a ring to it. Really though, I work with my clients on the simple but powerful exercise of scheduling when we have a balance problem. We start with a grid of all the hours in the day, block out eight hours for sleep, then, at least one hour each day for “me” time — even more is better — and at least an hour of quality time with friends and family. Then, work and other obligations have to fit in to the hours that are left. Sounds deceivingly simple, but entrepreneurs give up quality time and time they should be investing into themselves when work gets crazy.
This is why we get creatively tapped, tired, frustrated, and disillusioned. Lfe is driven by obligation instead of enjoyment, curiosity and innovation. Figure out what your priorities are, and then don’t negotiate that “quality” and “me” time. There are only 24 hours in the day. Prioritize what’s most important.