Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of global marketing firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA. Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, venture-backed startups, as well as non profit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. She is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I did not plan on starting a company. I always wanted to go work for a large multi-national business and be a Fortune 500 CEO. When I was a student I looked at Meg Whitman and Ursula Burns as my role models. I started my career at Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola. Then I left the corporate world in 1997 to join the first of three startups and have never looked back. Fifteen years ago I started a global marketing firm out of the 3rd floor of my home and love running my own company. I had just lost my job and saw a business opportunity so just jumped on it because I had time. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I am the accidental entrepreneur.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I had been in marketing for years and post 9/11 marketing got cut across the board so companies could conserve cash. I was getting requests for help on projects but did not want to commit to high overhead and we hard space in our home so I just built a website and got going. I had no idea I would still be doing this 15 years later.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
I created the name first then built a web site with a college friend, had another friend develop a logo so we could make letterhead for proposals, business cards and invoices to get paid. I had clients from the start so started recruiting a team to help. I set up a bank account, got a tax ID number and we were in business. Every one of our early clients lead to more work and referrals.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
I gave a talk to a professional group and someone came up to me a after with a referral who hired us right away.
5) How do you market your business?
I do a lot of public speaking to build my business. I also write articles, contribute to blogs and do a lot of networking.
6) What does your usual day look like?
I check e-mail first thing, usually have morning coffee meetings or conference calls, I meet clients or prospects for lunch and usually hit an evening event too. Sometimes I am on a panel or keynoting other times it is strictly networking. I have meetings or calls most afternoons too. I squeeze in time to check messages during the day s things keep moving forward. I try to exercise everyday too either first thing in the morning or before I go out at night. It keeps me energized and sane.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
The people you start with are not always the ones who grow with you. The biggest mistake and hardest lesson I learned when I started my company is not getting rid of weak people earlier than I did in the first few years of my business. I spent more time managing them than finding new customers. I knew in my gut they were not up to snuff but out of loyalty to them I let them hang around much longer than they should have. It would have been better for everyone to let them go as soon as the signs were there.. They became more insecure and threatened as we grew which was not productive for the team. As soon as I let them go the culture got stronger and the bar higher. “A” team people like to be surrounded by other stars. It is true that you should hire slowly and fire quickly. I did not make that mistake again later on so learned it well the first time. I wish I had known it even earlier though but lesson learned!
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
Carve out space for work only that is separate from your living space. You and your family need to respect that when you are there it is for work but other times are for enjoying. It will also keep you more organized.
Website: Mavens & Moguls
Linkedin: Paige Arnof-Fenn