Amanda McKinney is an independent marketing strategist who works with women business owners in the health and wellness industry. Before launching AM: Marketing, Amanda worked at various international corporations after receiving her Masters in Marketing Communications from the University of Florida.
In this article, she talks about her journey to starting her own consulting business.
Tell us about your journey
I have always been in the marketing industry since starting my career in the corporate world.
While I gained the much-needed experience, I always knew that the corporate world wasn’t where I wanted to stay for too long. Therefore, I set my sights on marketing consulting and earlier this year I made the jump to become a business owner.
My primary motivation to branch out on my own was freedom with my schedule but also that while I was working in the corporate world, I was able to help one company, but as a marketing consultant, I could help many businesses.
How did you choose your niche?
Upon starting my own business (AM: Marketing), I realized how passionate I was about the health and wellness industry and decided to focus my business in that industry.
So today, I work with female entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry and provide strategic marketing plans for them to start and grow their business.
I work with fitness trainers, nutritionists, fitness studios, spa owners, and many others.
I have helped several trainers start their own business, whether they are currently working at fitness studios/gyms or they are starting fresh.
I have also helped clients who already own a business, grow through marketing efforts. The way I work with clients is that I write a strategic plan for their project, whatever it may be, and then allow them to implement the plan while I coach them from the sidelines, which allows my clients to get to know more about their target audience and marketing efforts that work best for them. This sets them up for success in the long run.
What was the biggest challenge with your business?
My biggest motivator and the greatest challenge is myself, and I believe that this is the case for many business owners. There are days that I am incredibly supportive of myself, but then there are other days that I am extremely critical of myself.
The only way I have been able to overcome this problem is to surround myself with a strong support system.
I have a group of mentors that I can call and meet with as well as a group of other female business owners that are in a similar stage of business as I am. We encourage each other on tough days and celebrate on the good days.
How did you get your first client?
Networking! Networking will lead to customers and clients will lead to referrals.
I have a powerful feeling that if you ask me this question in 5 or 10 years, I will say the same thing.
As a marketing consultant, I understand the power of marketing to get your brand name out there and how much that can do for your business but talking to people (whether in person or online) is going to be the best option for anyone first starting out.
How do you acquire clients?
In addition to networking, having an online presence is critical in today’s world, and I am a big proponent of partnerships.
Especially when first starting out, partnering with another like-minded brands is an excellent choice.
But if you want to dig into the details, you have to start with your target audience. Find out where they are and then develop a marketing strategy based on this information.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a consultant?
- Find your tribe. You will need a support system during this time in your life.
- Self-reflect. Think about what type of coach you want to be. Where would like to focus your energy? Do you want to be mainly online or in-person?
- Read all you can and listen to podcasts in your commute time. Take in as much information as you can. You will figure out what to retain and what to let go. Remember, not all information is useful, but you want to keep learning.
- Both mentally and financially, make a plan. If you have a job that is providing steady income, keep it while you plan for your business.
- Get a business coach or mentor. Along with building a tribe of supporters, you will need someone who can guide you through the business aspects. You may be great at your craft, but you might not be the best marketer; find someone who can help you with that. You might not be the best at bookkeeping, find an accountant, etc. Identify where you need help and get it.
- Identify your target audience. While your business might evolve over time, start by identifying a small segment you want to work with. Take it down to a narrow group. Don’t just say “women,” say “woman who have recently given birth.” It may seem like it will narrow your potential for revenue but it does the opposite. You will be the expert in this one area; therefore, you will be the go-to person for that target audience.
- Give yourself grace. It’s my go-to advice for all of my clients, as well as myself. Remember that not every day is going to be your most productive day and that is okay. Give yourself grace and keep going. Try not to dwell on things that you didn’t do perfectly.
Anything else you’d like to add?
To everyone who is thinking of striking out on their own, kudos to you! It’s a big step, and I commend you for even thinking about it.
Take the time you need to get some planning done and then just do the work. Set long-term goals but then break those down into short-term goals and focus on those.
Don’t focus too much on a year from now.
Think about this month and then do the work. If you keep achieving monthly goals, then you will achieve your yearly goals.
Remember to give yourself grace daily and keep that head up. You’ve got this.
Readers can connect with Amanda McKinney through her website AM Marketing