We continue our series on Women In Business where we highlight a wide variety of businesses that are owned and operated by women all around the country. Our goal is to learn from, inspire, motivate and celebrate this strong, unique, and diverse group of women.
Our spotlight today is on Ann Brennan, owner of Ann’s Social Media & Marketing. Here’s what she told us.
What is your company?
ASMM Digital Marketing, based in Millersville, Maryland
When was your company founded?
What inspired you to form your own company?
I was really unhappy in my previous job but I also had successes that were much bigger than I knew I could achieve. The combination inspired me to step out on my own and help other small businesses achieve those same successes.
What is the best part of your job?
I love working with small business owners. I have become friends with many of my clients and several of my clients act as mentors for me. Those relationships have been a highlight of running this agency.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Not being able to help everybody. Our agency does very intensive work with social media accounts for our clients. Because of that we often find solopreneurs who can use our help but who aren’t quite ready to hire an agency. We have added some consultations services for those solopreneurs and we even opened a digital campus to help them. But I would love to do more, especially for those businesses that are just starting out.
Have you found that being a woman-owned business owner has helped your business?
Interesting question. I just had this conversation with my son. I have seldom given any thought to the fact that I am a woman-led business and most of my clients will tell you that they don’t think of me that way either. This may be harder for me right now because I have three children who are bringing more awareness to gender these days and how often we lead with gender. Most often I think of myself as a business owner without the gender label. I am not sure whether this is good or bad. It’s just a change of focus.
What are some obstacles that you’ve encountered being a minority business owner?
This is a strange one and it may have more to do with the fact that I am so short but people, women and men, hug me instead of shaking my hand. At first, this really took me off guard. But I reframed it and started thinking that maybe they just see me as someone who is so welcoming they have to hug me.
What is one piece of advice that someone gave you early on that you found to be invaluable.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what your service is worth. That was hard for me. I have gotten better but I still find myself giving services away.
What is one piece of advice that would you give to someone that is thinking of starting their own business?
Don’t overthink it. Fail fast.
What is one mistake that you made early on that you would re-do if given the chance?
I didn’t have a service agreement. It’s important to have an agreement, not just for yourself but also for your clients.
What is one future goal that you have for the business?
I want to I use my business to help others grow theirs. Yes, I want to help my clients but I am also in a unique position to hire writers and other contractors. I look at my business growth as an opportunity to support these contractors.
Who has inspired you the most in your business?
My first employee. The way she thinks and the way she gives of herself to grow this business continues to inspire me every day.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
We were lucky. We started a podcast to help get our clients in front of our own audience and that podcast grew. It ended up helping us gain exposure and grow in ways I had not expected.
On days that are particularly hard with the business, what keeps you going?
My employees. It is a lot like a marriage. On days that are bad for me, they lift me up and on days that are bad for them I try to lift them up.
If you were not running a Social Media Marketing firm, what would you be doing?
I would probably focus on my charity, Burgers and Bands for Suicide Prevention.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I see us having expanded to a full marketing agency. We are on our way to that now.
What would you like people to know about your business?
We care more about our clients than anybody cares about their clients. It’s what makes us stand out. One of our clients calls it, AUA, Ann’s Unsolicited Advise. We go far beyond social media with our clients. We are always looking for ways to make connections and help our clients build their businesses.
What is something that everyone told you/warned you/shared with you about owning your own business that is not true?
That it would be lonely. It’s not. Between networking, the relationships I have built with my clients and my employees, I am less lonely than I have ever been.
Were people supportive of you when you went out on your own?
Yes. I am really lucky to be surrounded by people who believed in me before I believed in myself.
What do you say to the naysayers if you’ve ever encountered any as related to your business?
I had a consultant tell me that my business wouldn’t work the way I was doing it. I didn’t say anything. I listened and then left. That was 4 years ago and we are still growing.
How would your co-workers/staff/cast describe you?
Caring and maybe a little bossy.
What has been your most favorite project to date?
The podcast. It was really meant to simply be a means of promoting my clients but it has given me opportunities to meet business owners all over the world.
What is one random fact about you that you would like people to know?
I started Burgers and Bands for Suicide Prevention because I know how lonely people are when they or someone they love is struggling with depression. I want people to know that they are not alone.
You can find Ann and Ann’s Social Media & Marketing here: