The attendance at the recent Spark event put on by the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce was no surprise to anyone who knows the speaker, our own Jessica Scanlon. She is not only a captivating speaker, but has a business journey story that is engaging and honest, and everyone wanted not only to support their friend and colleague but hear how she’s done it. How has she created such a successful, visible business in just a few years? Well, as many found out, it has been a much longer haul than most everyone even knew.
Hear the whole story in Jessica’s own words in the video here or read on…
Starting Out with a New Business
Jessica’s story started her marketing journey in the corporate world but found a passion for helping small businesses on her own. As she explored the opportunity to give small businesses and solopreneurs the marketing and advertising help they needed at a cost that made sense for them, she became fired up. Hot Dog Marketing was born from a desire to serve a market that had been overlooked by Austin marketing agencies for so long, and from the only “employee” of the company at the time besides Jessica, her faithful dachshund Iggy.
After leaving the corporate job she had, Jessica decided it was time to set out on her own. Once she convinced her husband Neil that this was a good idea (after a few beers), she set about making it happen. So, newborn in tow, Jessica started meeting with business owners in the Austin-Round Rock area and began building relationships. Her passion for helping other businesses grew as her company did, as did her newfound experience with the exact struggles they all faced. Learning how to run a business while doing the work to keep the business afloat made Jessica the ideal marketing partner for the businesses she worked with. The empathy that she had for their struggles helped her to form a unique bond and perspective on what local business owners needed.
Growing a Business is Scary
When it was time to share the load, she brought on a Creative Director as her first employee, and talk about how incredibly scary that time was. Hiring someone for the first time and putting revenue toward another body seemed daunting. Even more so when he found he really needed more than just a part-time gig. Jessica wasn’t willing to lose his talent and all he contributed to the success of Hot Dog Marketing, so she took a chance with some advice from her business coach. That employee was Brandon Cornwell, who is still Creative Director to this day. Just as much as Jessica wanted to work with Brandon, he wanted to keep working with her too and help grow the business.
You Can’t Have True Success on Your Own
The two shared an office in Heritage Office Suites in Round Rock, making more connections and friends along the way. Many of whom are still clients or friends of not only Jessica but the business. Jessica encourages other business owners to seek out people who can help, whether they are other local business owners, professionals in other areas, lawyers, business coaches, and peer groups. No one should try to shoulder the trials and tribulations of being a business owner alone in her experience. She attributes much of her success and pushes to make difficult decisions that paid off to her trusted advisors.
As her team grew, they moved out of the office suites and into their own office in east Round Rock, but quickly outgrew that space, well ahead of the 5-year term they expected, and moved into downtown Round Rock at the hustling and bustling corner of Mays and Main. The marketing company has grown in size and skill, as has its clients, and the longest-standing ones attribute much of their success to the work done by the Hot Dog Marketing team (even being named a top digital agency in Texas!). Hiring intelligently, looking beyond hard skills at the soft, and creating core values that align with the vision for the company makes all the difference in the team and how they all work together today.
Having seen the passion and vision that Jessica has for businesses led me to request the opportunity to work with her and help grow her business. After my own experience going from small business to the corporate world and back to a small business, I had the same love of helping others succeed. That “thing” about Hot Dog Marketing originated with Jessica and she has found a way to spread it to the rest of the team. It is such a privilege to work with and learn from her every day. The dedication she has to the community, to other local business owners, to the businesses we work with, and beyond is admirable and encourages all of us to get involved, do more, and work hard for the people in our lives, whether personal or professional.