Monica G. Coleman, founder & president of M320 Consulting, breathes life into the quote: ‘your dream job doesn’t exist, you must create it.’ “I kept landing what I thought were ‘dream jobs’ but still felt like something was missing,” said Coleman. I knew that I wanted to work in the sports and entertainment industry, but I also enjoyed some aspects of brand development and traditional marketing.
Many people felt that these two worlds were completely separate, but I saw an opportunity to combine the best of both worlds, so I launched M320 Consulting. I wanted to be at the intersection between key consumer lifestyle touchpoints like music, fashion, entertainment and corporate brands; specifically among multicultural consumers. This may seem common now, but 10 -15 years ago, companies were still figuring how to authentically connect with multicultural consumers.”
Coleman’s marketing and communications firm, which is based in Atlanta, Ga., has worked with a few global heavy hitters. “Our first client was Magic Johnson’s Burger King Restaurants, which was huge for a brand new agency,” said Coleman. “However, the client trusted us, we delivered, and we’ve been growing as a multicultural marketing agency ever since.” Other clients include Pepsi, Lexus, The Home Depot, entertainment properties like Funk Fest Concerts, and the Bank of American Atlanta Football Classic, and non-profits like The City of Atlanta’s Office of Recreation, and marketing agencies like GLUE, Walton, Divine Marketing Agency, and Liquid Soul Media.
When it comes to her best career advice, Coleman says, “own your truth.” “The biggest career mistake I made was letting fear guide me by taking jobs and opportunities because I wasn’t fully committed to accepting that I was an entrepreneur. I suffered and my work did too. It’s important to fully commit to what you inherently know is the path for you, and when you do, things will begin to fall into place and you’ll have a level of peace that is indescribable.”
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the enterprising trailblazer to learn more.
BlackEnterprise.com: Since starting your own business, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself?
Coleman: I’ve learned that I get the most professional satisfaction from helping other people’s goals and dreams become a reality. As a consultant, I’ve been able to take on clients that may have been failing, or may have known the results they’ve wanted to achieve, but lacked the strategy to get there.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced on your entrepreneurial journey?
One of my biggest challenges has been marketing my business, which is ironic because we are a full-service marketing firm. I care most about promoting and positioning my clients, so I’ve struggled with figuring out how to tell the story of what we’ve accomplished as an agency in a way that is meaningful.
The best step I’ve taken to overcome this, was hiring a firm to manage our marketing, which takes me out of the process, and that’s been great! Our new agency is helping to develop regular communication with current and potential clients, and to secure speaking engagements and other opportunities that allow me to demonstrate what the firm is delivering in the marketing space.
What are the top 3 resources you use to help manage your business?
1) A To-Do List – I start every day with this age-old tool. Some days, it may have 22 things on it, but it’s a great feeling to cross things off as they get done, and it helps me keep track of my deliverables for the day.
2) Client Communication – I make it a point of connecting with my clients by phone frequently, and I’ve found that doing this has led to honest dialogue that helps mitigate risk and sprout new ideas and programs.
3) Project Management Tools – As entrepreneurs, our instinct is usually to get going and figure things out as we go. However, as your business grows, the need to manage projects and people becomes more and more important. I use something internally called a project grid, and it allows me to track key project deliverables and timing. You can also simply create a formula that works well for you in Excel.
What are things women can do to break barriers?
Gender barriers exist, but I believe that the vast majority of professionals want to work with and learn from talented people who are going to produce results – regardless of gender. The first thing women should do is have confidence that their professional experience, expertise, and preparation have given them the right to contend at the same level as men in their desired professions. Work from a place of belonging and not a place of asking permission.
Another suggestion is to have a male mentor who is interested in your professional development. This can definitely help broaden your perspective about business and building relationships in general.
You have some pretty well-known corporate clients. Any secrets or inside tips to landing major clients?
At M320, we focus on two key things: relationships and results. We’re interested in fully understanding our clients’ business because it makes us better able to service them, and we arm them with the metrics and tools that they need to look great internally, which makes us a valued partner.
You’re also a mom juggling the demands of business and family. Any tips or advice for making it all work?
Balancing family and business is something that many entrepreneurs continuously try to master. Two of the most important things that I’ve learned are:
For The Entrepreneur – Your family probably doesn’t understand exactly what you do or how much work and time it takes, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love and support you! Communication is extremely important in helping your spouse, parents and friends understand how they can best support you. Don’t assume that they’ll never ‘get it’! Spend time bringing them into your world by sharing details about your day, your work as it’s in progress, or challenges that you’re having, and it will often help increase both their understanding and support.
For the Family Member – Let go of the traditional idea of ‘normal’ because many entrepreneurs don’t work ‘normal’ hours or have ‘normal’ business habits. Clinging to what is supposed to be normal can lead to friction, misunderstanding, and resentment. Spend time collaborating with the entrepreneur in your life to determine what your normal can potentially be, and focus on that.