Chamber Spotlight is a new feature from the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. Reston Now will spotlight local businesses and business leaders on a regular basis. Today, Jen Sterling of Red Thinking, a digital marketing and brand strategy firm.
1. Why did you decide to start your business in Reston? I escaped DC and moved west early in my business. Originally located in Loudoun County, I shifted to Reston because I fell in love with the energy and the people. I felt drawn in and welcomed. In addition, it was a thriving hotspot for my target market as well making it great “feeding grounds” for my business.
2. What are the challenges and rewards of being a business owner?
It’s a complete and total roller coaster. Sometimes that is emotional …f rom “Wow this controlling my own future thing is amazing!” to “What the hell was I thinking?” And sometimes that is financial where you are rolling in it one month and the next you start thinking about invoicing your dog just to get cash flow. It is one of the most challenging, and yet rewarding things that I have ever done. I would never go back.
3. Name something about your business that most people don’t know? Our business is a ubiquitous workplace. While we are headquartered in Reston, we no longer maintain a formal office space. Our staff is able to work from wherever they want. They may be in a home office one day, a local Starbucks the next, or perhaps at the beach for a week. Our work is not tied to location so we can work from anywhere and everywhere.
4. What is the unique value proposition your client’s know of when using your services? Our entire goal as a company is to provide an environment where our staff and our clients can succeed while still having a life.
5. Describe a typical day as the business owner? My days are never the same. One day I am focused on financials and running ratios, the next I am knee-deep in a dashboard about our proposal pipeline. The day after that I may be in a three-hour strategy session with a client who is preparing to take their business through a 180-degree shift in focus. I am interviewing new staff and cultivating the team members I already have to make sure that they are happy and delivering. One of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur is that no day is the same.
6. How has the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce helped your business grow? I first joined the GRCC when my business was young. The GRCC’s staff and fellow members helped me to learn about the region and to explore the business community around me. As a volunteer for the Chamber, I met hundreds of people and I learned to build teams to accomplish goals. As a volunteer leader in the chamber I learned to plan strategically, to budget, and to build partnerships between organizations. All of these lessons helped shape and improve my business.
7. What is your advice to someone who is thinking about owning a business? Know that it will be the most magical and frustrating ride you will ever take. You will have days where you feel like a superhero, but be prepared to also have days where you question your sanity and your ability to handle it all. Then be resilient and never give up. It’s worth it!
Photo: Jen Sterling/Credit: Red Thinking