For Syndi Nelson, being an entrepreneur came naturally – after all she grew up with her parents running a small business – she saw first hand the struggle and amount of work it takes to run one. And after completing her MBA and Master of Science in Human Resources she decided she wanted to start her own entrepreneurial journey: helping small businesses with marketing. Today her Dallas, Texas-based marketing business The Social Robin uses digital, traditional and innovative marketing strategies to help clients achieve the success they want without breaking the bank.
Nelson’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
Growing up with an entrepreneurial father, I saw first hand how passionate small business owners are about their company and how hard they work to grow the business fueled by their passion. To my dismay as an adult, I saw small businesses closing left and right who could’ve kept their doors open if they had been able to afford and been aware of marketing strategies for their business. After graduating with a dual Master’s program receiving both an MBA and a Master of Science in Human Resources while working full time and learning graphic design, web design, and more creative fields, I decided to address that issue head-on by starting my own company. I was determined to help small businesses thrive and give them a big brand look that would help propel them to the top.
My passion is helping people succeed and grow. For me, success is being able to put that passion into practice in my company and at home. I often tell new hires that I don’t expect them to be with me forever and I ask them where they see themselves in 30 years. By doing that, I ensure that what I teach and the projects I give to them are helping them achieve their own goals. I do my best to set them up for success by offering diverse teaching in different creative areas so that they have a better idea of what they enjoy and what they don’t in the field of marketing – which helps further allow them to create their path for their unique future.
For clients, I do my best to have my team put their best foot forward and do what we can to help our clients achieve their business goals. I am passionate about achieving goals first and putting sales second. In a world of forceful up-sells and cringe-marketing, I strive to consult with clients and “prescribe” to them what they need based on their goals so that they have every opportunity to do exactly what they set out for without spending a dime for something that isn’t aligned with their goals. For small business, every penny counts. I keep that fact close to my heart, which allows me to always instill humility and honesty in my business.
My biggest success to date is losing a team member. And that would normally sound odd, right? For me to lose this team member to another position means that I did what I intended – I was able to teach them well and grow their talents. This particular team member was hired to do a variety of marketing – graphic design, e-mail marketing, web design, social media and more. In just two years, both myself and the rest of the team was able to provide teaching and the tools needed for her to grow those skills to where she was confident that she could take those on for herself. I am so proud to be a part of growing a person’s talents and I can only hope that I can continue to do so for others in the future.
Right now my top challenge is definitely finding new clients in the time of COVID. While I have been extremely successful in growing the company from 1 to 15 in such a short period of time, COVID immediately hit our growth hard. Together, our team has done our best to navigate sales and finding the right targeting to bring in new clients and it has proven challenging as budgets have tightened in some industries. With the team’s help, we have been able to make use of our existing resources and personal networks to get near where we were pre-COVID. Although it’s a difficult shift, we have been able to adjust our marketing strategy and adjust our targeted clients to ensure that we’re taking care of our team and still able to take care of our existing clients with little change in the quality that we’re able to provide.
In terms of challenges in my personal life, I was involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident in 2018 and within a couple of months found out that my then-husband had an affair. I was slammed with horrible physical injuries that I am still recovering from today along with emotional damage that will likely linger for years to come. If anything changed my character permanently, it was those two life-altering events. I would say that the transparency and empathy that I have today for my employees was highly elevated as a result. Where once I knew the importance of “work-life balance”, I now knew the importance of really seeing people and the challenges in life that they face. I don’t believe my team knows just how difficult that time was for me, but I do know that they are 100% responsible for keeping the company afloat while I dealt with my very bad hand of cards. The transparency that I have and the way that I lead is now influenced by truly understanding and caring for my team as people and individuals. That said, my business decisions are transparent and now made with team input as much as I am able. We really are in all of this together and there is no room to make business decisions for one person when it affects the many.
It’s tough to say who my most important role model is. Both my mom and my dad are equally important in my life… my dad showing me how to put a strong work ethic into building a business and building one’s own character and humility for the stresses and challenges that come with the territory. He’s the king of doing and fixing and I owe that level of tenacity to him. My mom spent the majority of my memorable childhood working hard every day – which meant less time with me. As a child it was hard, I was being dropped off early at school and helping the office staff with paperwork and administrative tasks. I was going with her early to work at my parents’ restaurant and working at the cash register as a kid before I was able to get on the bus. As I grew up, what I was able to learn from my mom is the drive that it takes to do what you need for the ones you care for. My role models are my mom and dad as a unit, and that is ingrained in every fiber of my being and how I navigate through life, work, and relationships with people.