SBDC helps solopreneur create a thriving small business and become community leader
PULLMAN, Wash.—When Adam Jones, founder and president of Pullman Marketing, enrolled in a Be the Entrepreneur Boot Camp course in 2017 hosted by the Palouse Knowledge Corridor, he was working 12 hours a day as a sole proprietor and had about six clients, nearly all of whom were from outside the state of Washington.
Today he has an office in a landmark building in downtown Pullman, six full-time employees, a 50-50 mix of clients with businesses on the Palouse and across the country, and hosts a popular webinar series focusing on marketing and business-related topics, from understanding Instagram to how to apply for an SBA Paycheck Protection Program.
In March 2020 he started doing online interviews with local business owners as part of a series he calls, “Profiles in Resilience.”
“Doing trainings on a negative event (like Covid) is tiring,” Jones said. “I wanted to do something to inspire people, to highlight stories that show we are not alone.”
In fact, prior to taking the Be the Entrepreneur Boot Camp course, Jones felt very much alone.
But, he said, that five-day course was a turning point. Not only did he learn a lot about the importance of detailed business plans and strategic planning, but it connected him with Aziz Makhani, a certified business advisor in the Washington Small Business Development Center network.
The Washington SBDC is a network of more than 40 business advisors working in communities across the state to help entrepreneurs start, grow or buy/sell a business. SBDC advisors can assist small business owners and entrepreneurs with just about any challenge they face, from creating a marketing plan to managing cash flow to putting together a loan application.
Jones said he and Makhani first connected during the Boot Camp, but have since continued to meet regularly as he has tackled one challenge after another.
“That has been absolutely invaluable,” Jones said. He relies on Makhani’s counsel, he said, because Makhani is incredibly honest, doesn’t pull punches, is unfailingly positive and is always looking forward.
Working with Makhani, he said, has helped him shift his focus from being a self-employed marketing professional to being a successful, community-focused entrepreneur building a business of value.
“It totally changed my mental focus,” he said.
Two issues they tackled early and continue to discuss are personnel and pricing.
“The first hire was the hardest,” he said, but it helped to have Makhani available as a sounding board to talk through challenges and concerns.
Adding employees with additional skills allows him to serve his clients better, he said. “I can do other things and I know they have my back.”
Pullman Marketing offers a range of services, including web design, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, strategic marketing planning, video content creation, social media marketing and search engine optimization.
As Jones has added more personnel to his team, he has transitioned his business into an agency model.
“The main difference between an agency and a freelancer business is the strategy portion,” Jones said. Yes, his agency can build a website and turn it over to the client if that’s what the client wants, but their preference is to become their client’s in-house marketing department.
Monthly subscriptions benefit both the business and the client, Jones said. They bring stability to the business’s cashflow and workflow, and they also ensure that the client’s marketing efforts stay fresh and up-to-date.
Jones now spends at least 30 percent of his time building his business, which includes getting out in the community, supporting employee development, and refining business administration processes.
His YouTube channel has nearly 30 videos organized in four topic areas, social media and marketing, small business resources, content videos for Pullman Marketing clients and Profiles in Resilience interviews with local small business owners.
“I like helping people,” Jones said, and his YouTube channel gives him a wonderful platform for sharing resources, tips, tools and inspiration.
“Adam is a genuine people person and a forward thinker, two traits that have helped him move his service company forward,” said Makhani, the SBDC certified business advisor in Pullman. “I’m not surprised that his business has become a respected and sought-after digital marketing agency in this region and beyond.”
For more information about Pullman Marketing, go to https://pullmanmarketing.com.