This week’s Women To Watch article is with Nicole Matthews, truly an event management maven. Beginning in her college days, Nicole has always had the philosophy that you can’t wait for the “perfect opportunity” to open up for you…you must create your own opportunities and that’s exactly what she has done!
I feature one woman entrepreneur every Wednesday for my Women To Watch series. If you would like to be featured on Market Like A Chick, just check out the details on my Be Featured page and get back to me. We want to hear from you!
Take a moment see how Nicole created one of the top event management companies in San Diego and listen to some very insightful words of wisdom.
To start off, Nicole, could you please describe what you do and how you earn your living?
I am the proud Founder and Principal of The Henley Company, LLC., an event management and personal concierge firm based in San Diego. We produce events for clients that have a desire to educate and celebrate their clients and employees.
The Henley Company is also able to offer its clients the gift of time! Through our concierge and lifestyle management program, we are able to provide professional and personal assistance to our clients which ranges from errand services, travel coordination, gift and personal shopping services, entertainment arrangements, relocation services, to meeting and event planning.
In addition to the work we do for clients, The Henley Company also self-produces their own events, which means we take an original concept and create a high-profile event for the general public.
What most influenced you to launch your business?
My biggest influence for launching a business was that after 10+ years in Corporate America, I realized that I don’t play well in that sandbox. I was tired of bureaucracy and everyone being stuck hiding behind policies and procedures. I decided the only way out was to start my own business so I started to grow The Henley Company on the side and finally made the leap into full time entrepreneurship in July 2007 when I had a big enough book of business.
Why do you think the female factor is so important in today’s economy and business world?
I think the female factor is incredibly important in today’s business world because women can be your best resource. My desire to surround myself with interesting women fostered the creation of CADY – A Social Community to Educate, Advance & Celebrate Women, which I co-founded with my dear friend Ann marie Houghtaling.
We believe a CADY woman is the most interesting woman in the room! We both go to many networking and social events and we would walk away with a pocket full of business cards but not feeling like we really had an interesting conversation with anyone, so after a lot of discussion between us we decided to create what we couldn’t find.
CADY launched in January 2009 to huge raves. Every month we put together a program designed to generate interesting, genuine, sometime controversial conversation between women.
Have you used the marketing concept of tribes in your business? Do you feel this concept can help other female entrepreneurs in their business pursuits?
I think the creation of CADY represents the concept of tribes best. We have created a space for like minded women who are fed up with the fluff and are ready to engage with interesting and dynamic women. By creating this space, we have seen business relationships develop between the women not because they are all exchanging business cards for the sake of exchanging, but they are creating relationships with each other based on their common desire to be the most interesting women in the room.
How do you use social media for your business?
Social media is a dream for the events industry! I use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn regularly to promote events I am producing. I also use them as ways to generate publicity about my events or generate interest in the opportunities I am currently working on.
“So far, there has not been a tool that has yielded better ROI on any advertising initiatives the way social media has for my business.”
What aspect of social media have you found to be the most help and/or most hindrance to your business?
The viral aspect of social media is the most helpful. Nothing is better than when an email, status update or tweet gets passed along. I often get registrations from people I wouldn’t have otherwise connected with other than the power of viral marketing. So far, I don’t really see social media to be a hindrance. Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn allow me to connect with people outside my market that wouldn’t have otherwise found me. This has led to inquiries of my services and opportunities for press interviews. It’s like anything, the more you use it, the better response you get.
Have you had a mentor and if so, how has that helped you?
I have been very lucky to have many mentors in my life. I find it invaluable to have people around you that take a genuine interest in your success and to provide inspiration. The biggest gift they give is the ability to be truthful and honest and to not be shy about saying what is really needed not what I just want to hear. Business owners can put their head in the sand and try to pretend that they aren’t failing or they can have the courage to ask for help and to really be open to the truth. I’m very grateful for the amazing support I have around me.
What would you say is the single biggest reason for your success?
By far the biggest reason for my success is because I have the courage to create my own opportunities. This starts back in college when I had to create my own internship opportunity because “event planning” was such a new field back in the mid 90’s. I literally opened up the Sacramento phone book and started calling all of the event companies that were listed.
I was very lucky to meet a woman that owned her own business and she took me under her wing and really taught me the business. I continued the tradition when I wanted to work in England; again I had the courage to reach out to a distant contact which led to a 5-month consulting opportunity in London. Starting my own business and now self-producing my own events is again an example of creating my own opportunities.
“You have to be bold and to ask for what you want! If you don’t ask, the answer is always no!”
If you could step back in time to when you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?
My best advice to the “just starting out” version of Nicole would be to stop pretending from the beginning that you are good at the financial side of the business. I made the mistake of trying to manage my own books for the first year. That turned into a hot mess. Now I have a bookkeeper on my team that reviews my books and things are a lot better.
I also would encourage “me” to not get in my own way as much. It’s better to just make a quick decision rather than lamenting about something for a long time, which causes you to get stuck. Trust you initial gut, make a decision and move on! It’s also ok for people to help you! I have tried too hard to do it all myself but being Wonder Woman just causes you to get tired and to sometimes spin in circles without being too productive!
Can you share with us any plans or lifetime goals (personal or business) that we can look forward to from you?
I’m discovering that a professional goal I have is to become a leader in the special events industry around strategic partnership and self-producing events. Too often as an industry we are always looking for a client to hire us…why not just hire ourselves and financially get to the same result?
Another goal is to once again work internationally. I would like to take The Henley Company outside of San Diego. My goal is to work at the London 2012 Olympics or at a future World Cup.
What is the best way for our readers to learn more about you or contact you for more information?
To get a glimpse at the some of the events we’ve organized or learn more about our company you can check out our website at www.henleycompany.com. You can also connect with me on Twitter at @Henleyco or reach me by email: nicole [at] thehenleycompany [dot] com.
Thanks so much, Nicole! Your unwavering spirit and drive to create your own success is an inspiration to me as well as many other women entrepreneurs. I welcome you to come back anytime to give us more of your business marketing success tips in a guest post.
Where can you see yourself in Nicole’s story? How would you use her strategies in your own business? Please let Nicole know how much her story inspired you by leaving a comment below.
To Your Success,
P.S. ~~> If you would like to be featured on Market Like A Chick, just check out the details on my Be Featured page. You can choose to write a guest article of your own or be featured in an interview like this. We want to hear from you!