As an entrepreneur for the last 12 years, Ivory Coats, Founder of More Marketing Firm knows all too well the value of having a tenacious spirit. With the help of her amazing team they help small business owners create impactful social media content; build their following, and brand recognition. Starting from a team of one in less than a year she has gone from a one-woman show to a skilled team of 10. Creating impactful ads and content that help small business owners carve their space. An Amazon #1 selling author her next book A Tenacious Spirit dives into the mindset and process needed to execute your ideas.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Ivory Coats: I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. My mother worked for the airline and sparked my interest in travel and learning about how others live. I lost my mom at 17 suddenly and my world was thrust upside down. I floated for some years going to college but eventually dropped out. I went back home and stumbled a little more until I organized my first young adult cruise.
Turns out I was naturally very organized and good at coordinating large-scale events. I went from making $12.50/hr to making the equivalent of $300/hr. After that first trip, I was hooked. I went on to manage several other trips and then the nation fell into a recession and so did my business. I closed the doors and moved to Atlanta where I went from bartending weddings to coordinating five and six-figure weddings for about five years. It was then I wrote my second book and became #1 on Amazon.
My life took another shift as life does and I got married and had a baby and suddenly doing weddings no longer fit my lifestyle. I knew I wanted to stay in business but I wanted something with a healthier schedule so that I could have more work-life balance. And that was when I decided to dive into marketing. I spent a lot of money on a number of courses. I even started my own eCommerce store to test out my theories with my own money. And now I manage a team that delivers to businesses worldwide needed social media marketing.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Ivory Coats: It can be both. If there is anything I have learned in this journey is that what got you here won’t get you there. With my first business, it was easy to be a team of one as I could tap into different networks and they supplied the manpower necessary. Then as a wedding coordinator, I had to coordinate not only my staff but the myriad of vendors and various personality types that come along with planning the biggest day of a couple’s life.
There were skillsets I had to develop and training I took to hone in on my inner boss. And now that I own several businesses I use some of those same skills to put in place processes that create revenue-generating businesses that require very little of me. When you start you are on the organizational chart but the goal is to make yourself not needed and redundant in the business. That’s when you truly acquire the time freedom that we all seek. So when you ask can they be both I think some are born entrepreneurs from day one but others might be thrust into entrepreneurship and learn the skills needed as they go.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Ivory Coats: Direct, upbeat, impatient.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Ivory Coats: We do social media content and ad management for our clients. There has been an incredible surge on the content management side. And so we have had to keep increasing our team to meet demand. But that goes back to the importance of having an established process. We have a training system and skills assessments that help us identify the best candidate and weed out those who this may not be a fit for. And we create a team oriented environment that makes us a great place to work.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Ivory Coats: That’s right, we are seeing an unprecedented amount of new businesses opening right now. That’s such a phenomenal thing. Here is the beauty of it all. 12 people can start a burger joint and out of those 12, only 1 is top dog. 3 are runners up and the rest will close in 5 years or less. Translation: execution matters. Don’t worry that so many businesses are opening you don’t even know if they can do the thing you do as well as you. Move with a bit of arrogance that you are the best and then prove it every single day.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Ivory Coats: Where do I start? My biggest assumption was that people simply needed to learn how to do their content marketing. I went through a lot of effort to create email newsletters and videos to teach my subscribers how to develop content. What I found is most business owners are in complete overwhelm and they don’t want another thing to do. So we have shifted to be a done for you service and it’s been a win-win.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Ivory Coats: If I could go back I would tell myself to be more confident in what I already know. I had a much better understanding of marketing than I allowed myself to believe but I spent a bunch of money on courses assuming they knew more than me. While I don’t regret it I realize now looking back that I had years of experience marketing to lean on. Even my first cruise sold out in a week! I would still do the courses cause I did get some nuggets from them but I would have started working with clients right away.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Ivory Coats: Someone once told me no one is going to take a woman seriously in business as it’s a man’s game. Felt like I had stepped way back in time. I didn’t realize people really thought these sort of things anymore. And the biggest lesson I took from that never allows someone to give you a no that has no ability to give you a no. Meaning this person had no power over me. And who cares what they thought beyond them. Consider them flies at the BBQ to be shooshed away.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Ivory Coats: No. Business always has and always will be customer-centric. No matter the times focus on creating a business that helps solve your customer’s problems and you will always have a profitable business.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Ivory Coats: If they build it, they will come. It implies there is no marketing needed. That somehow the customer will find them. It’s faulty and can lead to a harsh and fast reality check. If you are building a business then you want to create a marketing strategy that makes it easy for your customers to find and buy from you. And once you set up systems and implement plans it’s easier than you think.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Ivory Coats: Vision, discernment, and tenacity.
You are the heartbeat of your business and your team will only follow a leader with a vision they can believe in. Secondly with so much information and options available there take a high level of discernment to navigate the course and not get distracted along the way. If it doesn’t align with the vision put your blinders on. And lastly, my favorite saying is motivation gets you going but tenacity will get you there. Motivation wanes; it’s why so many never accomplish their goals. You need to be absolutely stubborn about taking the path the leads to your vision. Life will throw a ton at you to test you and many will fall by the wayside except for those with a tenacious spirit.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Ivory Coats: The biggest game-changer for me was two books. “Profit first” which shows you an easier way to manage your business accounting. It’s the single reason why I am able to scale so quickly. The clarity on where your money is and where it’s going is easy to implement with this system. The second is; “Change your questions, change your life” by Marilee Adams. This book teaches you how to tackle challenges in your life or business by changing the questions you ask yourself. These are the two that helped me go from $12/hr to a six figure salary so quickly.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Ivory Coats: This is going to sound odd but museum tour guide. I used to play like a museum tour guide as a kid and I really loved it. I love meeting new people and I love giving fun little-known facts and answering questions.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Ivory Coats: Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, the founder of Chicago. Because he deserves more credit than he is given and this country has to do better about acknowledging all persons of significance no matter their race.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Ivory Coats for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Ivory Coats or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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