Emily Lyman is the CEO & Founder of the marketing agency Branch & Bramble and took some time out to talk with The Industry Leaders and provide some golden rules for business owners in 2023.
What's your industry?
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
I’m a builder who loves process and organization but who also needs an element of structured creativity. Although I was set to enter the venture-capital world straight out of college with a double major in finance and investing, I gravitated towards marketing instead for the campaign excitement and experimentation.
After working with top global companies on both the agency and brand side for more than a decade, I found myself frustrated by the mentality of accumulation over solid strategic thinking. I’m a firm believer that marketing needs to do more than prove ROI and contribute to the bottom line. It needs to communicate the brand story while providing value to the brand’s consumers.
I built Branch & Bramble to be a company that listens to the needs and aspirations of both our clients and our team members with the goal of creating honest, transparent, and respectful working relationships for all involved. We are focused on helping brands stand up for what they believe in and finding others to stand with them.
What does an average day look like for you?
I, like many CEOs, have a large hat collection. Time blocking is crucial to help ensure that as little as possible falls through the cracks. Business development, overall client experience, team management, finances, it’s currently all under my purview.
This tends to result in a daily emotional rollercoaster that pulls me in a million different directions. Elation for the achievements and worry for the future. I remind myself that there is joy in the problem-solving and that we can tackle anything we put our minds to.
How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?
It’s a moving target. I strive to make sure the overall balance is there, rather than worrying about it on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, the business needs more attention from me than life and vice versa. I often remind myself to live by the rule that, if I gave my best, I gave everything I had. Somedays, that best is 100%, sometimes its 50%. It helps to remind myself what my overarching goal is. Every business owner decides – how much do I want to focus on growth vs work/life balance vs personal finance.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
Be okay with making mistakes. Anxiety is the biggest challenge that I face which often manifests itself in the question, “am I making the right decision?” Most of the time, the agony during the decision-making process is worse than dealing with the fallout of making the wrong choice. You’re going to make mistakes. Some are going to be expensive. It’s the cost of taking a risk and building something. At the end of the day, a mistake made is going to yield more for you than not making any decisions because you were afraid.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
I launched a marketing agency less than 4 months before a world-wide pandemic. We had so much momentum right out the gate that I already had a team in place. Overnight, we lost half a million in confirmed proposals and current clients scaled back scope. We doubled down on our vision. We treated ourselves as the client and put kick-ass, scrappy marketing plans into place. A year later, we grew over 350% and achieved 7-figures in revenue.
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
I devour podcasts and business books. On all topics. Whether it’s advice around being a business leader or manifestation or sales, I’m here for it. But the one book that I always come back to is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. For me, it unlocked a way of thinking that gives me more confidence in my decisions and how I manage my day-to-day.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful business owner or executive to have?
Self-conviction and humor.
I have a reminder post-it on my computer that says, “Anxiety is the overestimation of the threat and the underestimation of your ability to deal with it,” (from The Ten Percent Happier podcast). “Knowing” things is not what is going to get you through a situation. It’s the belief that no matter what you’re hearing from the naysayers that you can deal with whatever is thrown at you.
And laugh at yourself. Laugh at the crap that you have to deal with. It will help you survive the challenges with at least some semblance of a positive outlook. I find that if I don’t make a concerted effort to laugh off the ridiculous, I brood and dwell on the negative, which ends up impacting everything else I’m working on. And we don’t need to give any situation that much power.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?
Know yourself. Know your vision. You have to know where you want to go.
What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?
Focus. You don’t need to do everything all at once. Rather, pick the 1-3 things that you have the time to do well and stick to those.
A support system. John Donne said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” Regardless of how strong we are as an individual, we cannot do everything by ourselves. I am where I am today because of those I am surrounded by.
I’m going to reiterate self conviction. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is at a different stage in their entrepreneurial journey. This only leads to insecurity, doubt, and jealousy which take up mental energy that could be used to grow your business.
Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?
Absolutely. Be honest with yourself about what you don’t know, be willing to learn from others, and trust in yourself.
In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?
There’s a lot of noise out there with more opportunities for failure. However, the world of business is now more flexible, allowing space for creativity and uniqueness. Business owners have more resources and information at their disposal. And with more opportunities for failure come more opportunities for success.
Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?