Prior to launching Concierge Media Solutions in November of 2014, Erin Nicole Johnson spent twelve years working for the Lake County Tax Collector's Office. While working for the Tax Collector, she was primarily responsible for issuing new business licenses. As Johnson shared, people were so excited in the beginning to start their new business. Unfortunately, many would never return to renew their license.
"When they first came in, they were so excited," she said. "It made me so happy that people were following their dreams. Then the renewal notice would come in indicating that they weren't renewing. It was sad. I literally had people crying at my desk about their dreams not working out. I was motivated to do something because of my experience."
Johnson had always been good at writing. In fact, while still working for Lake County she did some content work for the Tax Collector's website. Motivated by the experiences of other business owners and armed with an idea and a solid skill set, Johnson took the entrepreneurial plunge.
"The decision to quit my job at the Tax Collector's office was the single most pivotal moment of my life," she said. "I just had my daughter and I was so close to finishing my first degree. I only had one math class left. Unfortunately, they only offered day courses. In order to take the math class, and get my degree, I had to quit my day job. It was a hard decision, because I really loved my Tax Collector family, but I had to do it. While walking to my car, after giving my official notice to my supervisor, I heard the Tom Petty song 'Free Falling'. That was exactly how I was feeling at the time. I stepped off the ledge and was falling into the unknown, but I was determined to make a difference and to give my kids something to be proud of. I officially left in March of 2014."
Johnson started writing about business. She had the education and experience of watching people open businesses and fail and knew she had something valuable to share. While building out her website, she realized how much she enjoyed coding and design. To add to her skill set, she taught herself coding and took design classes. Suddenly she had an array of services to offer her clients. Before long she was designing websites, flyers and other marketing materials. Over time she added large scale projects such as billboards and video production. Today, her services include print advertising, web design, photography, videography, digital advertising and social media marketing.
We asked Johnson what she does to set Concierge Media Solutions apart from the competition. "When it comes to us, I don't compare what we do to others," she said. "Our number one goal is to serve. We are here for the client. We focus on what they need and how we'll get it done. Service is at the core of everything we do."
Johnson is driven by helping her clients achieve their goals. To her, it's a satisfaction like none other. Looking ahead, she sees a tremendous growth opportunity for Concierge Media Solutions. With more and more businesses choosing to outsource their marketing efforts, Johnson sees demand for her services increasing. To meet that demand she anticipates adding more associates and potentially moving into a brick and mortar office. Another goal is to become an employee-owned company. She envisions a workplace culture centered around family, community involvement and one where employees have a great sense of ownership in what they do.
What advice does Johnson have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "The first thing I say when someone is thinking about becoming a business owner is that it's great to have a dream, but make sure there's a need in the market for your idea. This will determine how soon you will be successful. Also, have a business plan. Today, making a business plan is underrated, but it is vital to lay out a plan for your immediate future and down the road. If you don't have a plan, you lose track and then traction. If you decided to pursue a dream, remember that you made this decision for a reason. It was a good decision. Stick with it. It will be hard, but so rewarding. There will be ups and downs and in downs you might even doubt that you made the right decision. You have to continue to believe that you made the right decision. Refuse to quit. Right around the corner is another opportunity that you'll miss if you give up."