One of the joys of being an entrepreneur is getting to share my founder story. I recently sat down with Chicago tech attorney Tricia Meyer of Meyer Law and talked about how TheSocReports came to be, my biggest challenge in developing the social media analytics tool for personal brands and advice for others just starting out.
Tricia Meyer: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us today. I’m Tricia Meyer. I’m the founder and managing attorney at Meyer Law. And I have the pleasure today to be here today with Carol Fowler, the CEO of TheSocReports.
Carol Fowler: Hello. Great to be here.
TM: Thanks for coming.
CF: Thank you.
TM: So tell me a little bit about TheSocReports.
CF: TheSocReports is a social media growth tool for personal brands. And our whole mission to help people who are in charge of marketing themselves in the social space master social media, be the best they can be, tell their most powerful story by using Facebook and Twitter most effectively. And we do that by showing them a competitive analysis. We track best practices. We examine their content. We show them the things that are associated with audience growth and influence and watch them blossom.
TM: That’s great. Tell me about a challenge you have faced with your business and how you have overcome it.
CF: Well, I’m not the typical entrepreneur. I worked for many years in traditional media. I worked in television news management here in Chicago, became more and more interested in social media as it became a force in how we get information. The biggest challenge I’ve probably faced was early on just trying to figure out how to develop the product. I had this deep expertise in content and social media, and I knew what I wanted to do and saw the opportunity because I worked with people in journalism and others who really needed to figure out the social space. But how do you develop the product without a technology background?
TM: Oh, what a challenge.
CF: Right? So literally one day on the sidewalk walking down Chicago Avenue I ran into a man I had worked with at my first digital company after I left television. And he had just recently left the company and I asked him, “I have this idea, would you help me figure it out? Would you basically be my advisor?” He wasn’t looking to do hands-on work as much as I would have liked him to. Anyway, to make a long story short, he heard my idea, thought it was great and said, “Don’t spend a dime on technology.” And I was like, “What do you mean?” He said, “You’re going to need to develop this product, this M.V.P., this minimum viable product in Excel.” And I said, “In Excel? Oh my gosh, just put a gun to my head.” I don’t even know Excel that well. I mean. And he said, “Figure it out. Because if you don’t figure it out, you’re not going to have a business.”
Now, I so appreciate that tough love he gave me because, yes, we built it in Excel, huge challenge. We were able to track that people were using it. We weren’t sending this PDF that we built in Excel and PowerPoint to people and having them just throw it in the trash can. We knew they were opening it. We knew they were spending time with it. We were getting feedback, then we were able to sell it. And we were able to prove that, yes, this is something that the right person will buy and then we spent money on automating it and moving it online where it now lives at TheSocReports.com.
TM: Nice, nice. What do you think is the best part about being an entrepreneur?
CF: The freedom, total freedom. I wake up everyday, and I can spend the day like I want. It’s scary and sometimes it’s lonely. That’s why I appreciate being active at 1871, the incubator here in Chicago because it gives a fellowship and a support system. There are probably too many people trying to run their businesses out of a Starbucks, and that’s really a shame. They think they are saving money by not paying for a membership in an incubator.
I like the freedom of being able to manage my time. I’m working my tail off, but it’s going toward something I believe in.
TM: Yeah, and I’m a big fan of 1871. They provide so many tremendous resources and mentors and workshops.
TM: It helps you get to point ‘b.’ It move the ball forward for sure. If you have one piece of advice to share with our fellow entrepreneurs watching what would it be?
CF: Nurture your personal brand. I think when entrepreneurs set about building their company, they are really only thinking about the company and the product. They are so focused on the product, and lord knows I was there, I lived it. I’ve been in that movie so I know firsthand that it’s easy just to get completely in the weeds. But you have to remember at the end of the day that whether it is someone who is deciding whether to invest in you or someone deciding to take a meeting with you or someone deciding to buy your product, it’s an endorsement of you. Who you are and what you believe. And if you haven’t thought about a social media strategy or created a blog and started writing or started contributing to what’s out there on the information that’s most closely associated with you and your company, you’re going to be at an automatic disadvantage. Devote some time to that. Really hard to do, but that would be my advice.
TM: Great advice. So where can people find you?
CF: People can find me in social media. I’m @carolfowler on Twitter. Probably the easiest way – and I have the settings even if I’m not following you and you’re not following me, you can send a DM. Easiest way.
TM: Got it. Thanks for coming in today. I appreciate it.
CF: It’s been great. Thank you, Tricia.
TM: Awesome. Alright everybody, thanks for joining us today. You can find out more about Meyer Law at meetmeyerlaw.com and more about AdvisorTV at advisor.tv. See you next time.