Startup Insights: An Interview With Mary Ellen Slayter

By on June 13, 2013 / Finding Inspiration / Leave a comment

Startup Insights: An Interview With Mary Ellen SlayterStartups are hot these days and starting a business is an appealing idea to people who are looking for more independence or seeking to escape a difficult job market. But, how do you get a startup off the ground?

In a May podcastInPower Women founder Dana Theus  spoke with our own founder, Mary Ellen Slayer, about how she came up with the idea for this business, overcame obstacles and put Reputation Capital on the road to success. I’ve written up the highlights of the startup insights Mary Ellen shared during their conversation.

Recognize Opportunities for Innovation

The world is continuously evolving with innovation and technology as the driving forces. If you want to be a startup leader, you must be able to recognize the emerging gaps that need to be filled with new products and services.

“One of the things that I had noticed, especially as news moved online, that there began to be this [merging] of the audience, and the trust and relationships between what were traditionally considered the advertisers and the news providers,” explained Mary Ellen. “And I noticed more and more brands were looking to become essentially publishers. I felt that we could help them with that. They say every brand is a publisher now –  we say, well then you need a managing editor. We’re there to provide that service.”

Push Through Your Fear

Life provides us with opportunities to push ourselves past the boundaries fear puts in our path. Mary Ellen says she first experienced this when she moved away from home at 16 to attend boarding school, Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. There, faced with uncertainty and fear, she learned lessons that would serve her life and in her business.

“You know, the thing is, being brave is not about not being scared — it’s about being scared and doing it anyway,” she explained. “It is all calculated risks, knowing that you are going to feel scared, understanding your emotions, and anticipating them and frankly preparing for the responses. You know you’re always going to have those feelings, but if you know that is going to come, you can face it in a rational way.”

Make Peace With Where You Are

As one person, you are never going to have all the knowledge and know-how you need to run a startup, but if you can accept that fact and be open to receiving help from others, you can build a network with all the knowledge and experience you need.

“You learn most of your lessons on the fly, just having to be comfortable with the discomfort. [I know] that I’m going to sound stupid when I go talk to the accountant for the first time, I’m going to sound ignorant when I ask the lawyer questions,” Mary Ellen said. “Part of it is just making peace, if you are used to feeling competent, to make peace with the sense that you’re not going to know everything, and the reason you have these other people around you is so you can pay them to give you their awesome expert advice and that you can learn. And that you will eventually regain that competence, but the only way you’re going to do it is by getting comfortable with your own ignorance.”

Know Your Definition of Success

Each person has a different definition of success and that definition plays a large role in how you run your company and the expectations you set for yourself and others. Get clear on your definition, so that you have a clear vision of what you are striving to achieve.

Mary Ellen shared her definition of what success: “[It] largely [means] the same thing it did when I was 15. It means independence, it means freedom, it means the opportunity to go out into the world and take the skills and the talents that I have, and work with awesome people and do awesome things, and to do it on my terms as much as possible.”

Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.

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