Brentney is the Founder of Sage Sales and Marketing. I am super excited to share her story with you today because I have had the privilege of knowing Brentney before she started her company, so it’s been a pleasure to watch her go out on her own and do her thing.
After embracing the term “smarketing” she knew this was the service she needed to provide.
ALV: Let’s start with a fun one, when did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
BH: For as long as I can remember, but not in an “I used to make bows and sell them to my classmates” kind of way. I actually found myself questioning if entrepreneurship was the right path for me since I hadn’t started my first business at age 15 like so many others. With a perspective shift I realized that my first dream of becoming an orthodontist, and later a lawyer, was actually serviced based entrepreneurship. Only time will tell but I feel like I’m on the right path.
Brentney believes that, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. She doesn’t wait for an idea to strike for a cool invention or trendy app! Her favorite part about being in the service industry is the constant human connection.
ALV: Tell us more about your service? How is it changing the world even if in a small way?
BH: I think people have spent the last twenty years being laser focused on productivity, efficiency, and technology-and all of these things are crucial to building a strong business. But over time we’ve lost too much of the human connection.
Working with sales and marketing leaders to improve experiences for both their employees and their customers is my way of contributing to finding a solution.
It’s an added bonus that I get to help sales leaders make more of an impact on their organization, to get noticed by their bosses, or to get that long overdue promotion.
ALV: So, you’re really passionate about what you do, what inspired you to start a business?
BH: Throughout my sales career I noticed that I saw things differently than my peers. I was never able to take off my marketing hat, which I think was a big contributing factor to consistently being a top performer.
Another key factor is my passion for leadership. At my last company I wanted to help relieve their frustrations and see them succeed. I shifted my focus to making a greater impact on the organization through sharing my skills and knowledge internally, and we saw results.
I took a step back and saw that I could recreate this and help so many other businesses. What I did not expect to find was decades of research proving how expensive sales and marketing disconnect actually is. It’s a very expensive problem, and I have a solution.
ALV: Since smarketing is a new term, what’s a misconception people have about what you do?
BH: Most people think of me as a marketing consultant. They anticipate that my pitch is to come into their office poking holes in the marketing strategy, audit their branding, or run social campaigns.
ALV: With that in mind, if you could start your business all over again, what would you do differently?
BH: I would take some of the pressure off of myself to create the perfect brand, website, business plan etc. by focusing on connecting with my network to offer help from day 1. Sure it helps to have a clear vision so that you know how to answer questions, but it matters a lot less when you are talking with people who have firsthand experience with your work.
Hindsight is 20/20!
ALV: Hindsight really is 20/20 so, when you think about the advice you would give someone starting a business, what would it be?
BH: You can never be too organized with planning your schedule. Time block, make lists, color coordinate, do it all. And if you’re not the “type A” type, invest in someone to set up a schedule/calendar for you. Working both in your business and on your business requires a lot of discipline. Also, allow down time for creativity, especially in the beginning.
Doing this has given me time to put so many creative ideas on paper which is not only good for business, it’s good for the soul. Sure, it’s been scary as hell…I quit a very stable job, and rent is still due every month. But I’m thankful that I didn’t allow fear to keep me from taking risks, because pushing pause has been life changing.
Brentney mentioned that starting a service-based business is NO easy game, some days you feel like you can change the world by noon, and other days, you feel completely isolated. What gets her through is remembering that just like sales, it is a game.
ALV: What’s your favorite way to refuel on the days when it’s hard to keep going?
BH: As an extrovert, I thrive in the hustle and bustle. I live for social events in Chicago. But about once a month I go completely off-grid for a day or two to recharge. Turn off my phone, no social media. If I’m lucky, get out of the city and go sit on the front porch with my family in southern Illinois. If I’m in Chicago, I’ll spend the time practicing yoga and cooking an indulgent meal.
ALV: When you aren’t unplugged, what is your favorite resource to help you “always be bettering!”?
BH: Podcasts. If you struggle with vulnerability podcasts are great because you can just listen without expectation to respond. There’s no need to divulge insecurities. Plus, podcasts are so efficient! I determine the content, time, and place. Oh, and The Productivity Planner!
ALV: As we wrap up, can you tell us who inspires you to do the great work you do every day?
BH: I am inspired by people who don’t allow success to distract them from things that really matter. People who have great energy! People who don’t take themselves too seriously and aren’t afraid to be a little rough around the edges. You know, wear a pair of Levi’s every now and then!
ALV: Lastly, if you could name one woman in history who has influenced and impacted you, who would it be?
BH: I love a good off the wall answer so I’ll go with Jane Fonda. She has had such an interesting life. She doesn’t take herself or the rules of society too seriously. While also being unapologetically proud to be a woman. And she’s a little wild.
Well, I’ll leave you with one of Brentney’s favorite quotes to ponder in the coming days.
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