Amy Jo Martin: Your Hustle Factor is Often Your Differentiating Factor. Work Hard.
How many entrepreneurs can start a business and bring Shaquille O’Neal on as a first client? Pretty much no one. Except Amy Jo Martin, that is. I had the pleasure of meeting Amy Jo for the first time a few weeks ago, and what immediately struck me about her was how calm she appeared to be—even amidst a swarm of people at a conference, waiting in line for a few moments of her attention to tell her about their startups or how much they admired her. She treated everyone she met with the same grace and attention she would've given to one of her celebrity clients.This is one of those "It" factors no one can quite put a finger on in the business world when they're pointing at people who are successful, and wondering, "How did they do it?" Amy Jo just has "It." And, while she is a ball of charm when you meet her in person, it's the work she does online that has rightly earned her 1.2 million Twitter followers. In 2009, she started Digital Royalty, a standout social media consulting agency. Her client portfolio includes: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, DoubleTree by Hilton, Delivering Happiness, Self (Magazine), Chicago White Sox, FOX Sports, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Texas A&M, and the Cleveland Indians. That's the short version of the full list. In 2011, Amy Jo launched Digital Royalty University, which offers customized social media education and training programs for companies and individuals. She also wrote a New York Times Best Seller book this past October, Renegades Write the Rules, and is a highly sought-after international speaker. I'm exhausted just writing all of that. In short, Amy Jo is the stuff of entrepreneurial dreams. She is relentlessly focused on what matters, and the success of her agency is proof of what is possible when starters passionately pursue whatever lies at the cross-section of their passions and talents. Technori partnered with the Young Entrepreneur Council to bring you a seven-part Q&A series featuring some of the most successful young female entrepreneurs in the country, including Amy Jo. She lets us in on what ignited her spark to start a business, the mantra she lives by and the three key elements she attributes to running a successful business.
What ignited the spark in you to start a business?I used to work for the Phoenix Suns back when social media was in its infancy. I wanted to experiment in this new, exciting space but “innovation allergies” kept getting in my way. One day, my boss called me a "renegade" (which I secretly loved) and told me I had to choose two of the following three things: work, family, self. I believe you don’t have to conform to society’s traditional standards. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to start my own business and be free to design my own day.
What mantra do you live by?How we spend our days is how we spend and live our lives.
It's no surprise that startup growth is often where entrepreneurs struggle most. What advice do you have for scaling a business?From my point of view, using a consulting and agency business model, you have to take your knowledge and turn it into a product. While building Digital Royalty’s consulting business, we also productized our intellectual property. This helped us turn the corner of scalability and share what we know with many more people.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a female entrepreneur? The most rewarding?I try to encourage all entrepreneurs, men and women, to be results-driven instead of gender-driven. Stereotypical gender roles weren’t a huge part of my upbringing. Therefore, it’s never been in my frame of reference to think differently about being a woman in business. Being a woman isn’t a business handicap. Regardless of gender, we should be graded on performance, action, and results. If you believe you are inferior, you will be. Be confident in yourself and own it.
What are the three key elements you'd attribute to starting and running a successful business?
- Your hustle factor is often your differentiating factor. Work hard.
- The people you choose to do business with will be the most important decisions you make. Who you say no to is just as important as who you say yes to.
- Take risks, experiment, and fail early. When everyone else hops on the bandwagon, their failing process begins as you begin to win. Then, share your lessons with others.