I am absolutely thrilled for this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday to introduce you to a mentor and friend of mine, Dawn Psaromatis.
While living in Austin, I worked as a Visual Communications Expert at Wellington Group where I was involved in the creative side of the business through graphic design, marketing, and branding. While working there, Dawn was not just my boss- she was a mentor, going out of her way to teach me the ropes of owning a business in an honest and transparent way. There are few women that have had as much impact in my professional and personal life as her. She, over the last few years, has truly taken me under her wing and helped me cultivate the confidence and skills to succeed. Her knowledge has given me the blueprints for developing my own creative business, and I would love to share her words with other women and men who are thirsty for entrepreneurial advice.
K: Dawn, please tell me about yourself.
D: My name is Dawn Wellington Psaromatis, and I’m an entrepreneur, business owner, wife and soon-to-be mother. I love to laugh, I’m fiercely loyal, and I’m obsessed with checking the weather.
My company, Wellington Group, is a marketing, public relations and social media firm that delivers creative and strategic communications programs that generate powerful recognition of your brand, help you speak directly to your audience and engage customers to become advocates for your business.
K: When did you first realize you wanted to start your own business? Is there a particular event that inspired you?
D: From managing my cookie and lemonade stand at my parents’ garage sales to launching a t-shirt business that came and went quickly (it was a huge flop, but there were many homeless people in Austin who received new shirts and a breakfast taco any chance I had to give them out), I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit.
In 2006, I started working for a company where I reported to the co-founder, who is an entrepreneur and inventor. He would share his knowledge with me, and I admired the company he built. I started doing some self-evaluation and realized most of my friends (and even the guys I dated) were entrepreneurs. In December 2006, I was in the recording studio working with a producer and someone who does music scoring for a weight-loss product that we represented. We were in the studio for some long, intense days. They were both entrepreneurs and we spoke, in depth, about their journey. I remember sitting with them one day and it was quiet when I said, “I think I’m going to start my own business.” That got things in motion.
K: That’s amazing! How did you settle on the idea of the Wellington Group?
D: I had some freelancing opportunities that I decided to pursue. It wasn’t easy. I had a full time job and then was freelancing on the side (I always say that it felt like I was having an affair with another job). Plus, I was traveling on the weekends for my full time job. It was a tough three months and I made a lot of sacrifices, but it was worth it.
K: Who and what did you find to be the greatest help in your earliest years of the company?
D: My faith, family and friends were all things I relied on during the early years. I had a great support and referral network too. Later in my business, I started Sandler Training at Market Sense, did the MyEJ program through Acton School of Business and joined EO Accelerator – all three had a huge impact on growing my business.
K: What is your advice to other young entrepreneurs who have a desire to start their own business?
D: There will always be a good excuse not to do it. Don’t let excuses stop you. Surround yourself by people who know more than you. Find a support network. Read all the business books you can possibly read. Be willing to fail, fail fast and recover. And, most importantly, pray about it. If it’s God’s plan for you, you just have to put in the hard work and He’ll open the doors.
K: What are a few good first steps to take to make it a reality?
D: I’m a big deadline, goals-driven, make a list and check it off kind of person. Set a deadline for yourself for when you want to actually go full time in your business and work backwards. For me, I had three months to secure a few clients, buy a computer and printer, have some business cards made up, decide on a business name, secure a website, set up emails and get my LLC.
K: Once the doors of a business are open, what are some important things to keep in mind/practice?
D: 1. Journal daily – this will be good for your mental state and keep you focused.
2.Grow and nurture your database – make sure every single person you meet goes into your database and market to them. This will be your biggest resource. Most business owners aren’t doing this.
K: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being the owner of your own business?
D: Most entrepreneurs start a business focused around something they are really good at (for me it was PR and marketing). Then, as the business grows, they have to shift from doing the work to actually running the business. This can be a challenge – especially for someone, like me, who enjoys the creative-side of the business more. My business/sales coach has been encouraging me to find my creative outlet somewhere outside of my business.
K: What is the most rewarding?
D: The projects and campaigns we produce that yield stellar results for our clients (which usually means generating more leads and increasing brand awareness) is really rewarding. We love to Wow through service – it’s one of our core values.
K: What are the unique challenges of being a woman business owner?
D: Most of our clients are men, and that’s never been a problem. We love our clients! However, after reading, Lean In, I was able to pinpoint and articulate what some challenges women face that men don’t – like how we bill, how assertive we should be, making decisions about raising kids and career, etc. There’s a reason most businesses that generate a million plus in revenue are owned by men. As women, we need to start addressing our challenges to fix this.
K: What is your advice for young women, particularly, (sorry boys!) in the work force of chasing their business ownership dreams?
D: Read Lean In.
K: What is something you learned from being your own boss?
D: My mood and energy (good or bad) can impact the whole office. I really have to keep things in check and sometimes leave things at the door when I walk through it.
K: How you stay inspired/ where do you get your inspiration?
D: My monthly accountability meetings, my weekly Sandler training class, talking to other business owners, reading business-related books, my team and sometimes taking time to step back and really take in all that I’ve accomplished all help keep me inspired.
K: I know that you are always out and about with adventures. What do you like to do in your free time?
D: I love being outside. My husband and I are also huge movie buffs – documentaries and indie films. I’m also a fan of trying new places and restaurants – it seems like there is something new opening up weekly in Austin.
K: Speaking of that city we love; if someone were to visit Austin, what would you suggest they experience?
D: There’s so much to experience here. I’d recommend catching some live music, trying local restaurants and food trailers, dipping into Barton Springs, running (or walking) Town Lake, and touring UT, the Capitol and downtown.
K: You have always been an advocate for reading. What are your favorite books? Both personal and business minded?
D: War of Art, Built to Sell, Who, Good to Great, The E-Myth Revisited, Mastery,
Man’s Search for Meaning, East of Eden, and Pillars of the Earth
K: What are your favorite quotes or bits of advice you’ve heard?
D: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Don’t sacrifice being successful for being liked.
Fortune favors the bold.
K: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
Enjoy the ride – every, single moment of it. It’s not always going to be easy (frankly, it can be darn right hard most of the time), but the adventure is so, so sweet.
Isn’t she the greatest? You can check out the Wellington Group website here.
HUGE thank you to Dawn for the interview and inspiration. I hope her words can encourage anyone who is thinking about starting their own business, in any capacity, and to know that the opportunity is out there. Now it’s time for you to go after it.