The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin aims to create an ethical, trustworthy marketplace - where buyers and sellers can trust each other. We've been long time members and always encourage our client companies to join as well. They help keep consumers safe, advocate for businesses in Wisconsin, support entrepreneurship and provide scholarships for students.
This month's issue of their magazine featured seven women-owned businesses in Wisconsin. Creative Company's Laura Gallagher represented Madison and this region. You can imagine our surprise when we opened the magazine and saw the title - "Author, Ambassador, Business Owner, BADASS". We did a little Googling to find out what the top definition of a Badass is. You may recognize yourself as well.
According to the Urban Dictionary, these are the Unspoken Rules of Being Badass:
"1. First rule of being a badass. A badass does not talk about being a badass. Period.
2. Second rule of being a badass, a badass does not try to be a badass or look tough. A badass simply is a badass.
3. A badass stays true to themselves, always. This means being themselves for themselves, and not being fake to impress others.
4. A badass does not give up. Badasses will always push themselves for the better, no matter how hard it gets.
5. A badass is not a jerk. A badass does not prey on the weak, and shows kindness in return to those who are kind.
6. A badass knows his/her limits. Don't be stupid, you're not Superman, you'll die if you jump off a building.
7. A badass does not make enemies or go looking for fights. They do not fight fights that aren't worth fighting either.
Any breaking of these rules is grounds revoking of the status of being a badass. If this happens, a badass must once again prove they are worthy of being badass by following the rules. A badass can only be determined by the opinions of others."
Laura Gallagher advocates for women entrepreneurs every day—as the President of The Creative Company, a public relations and digital agency based in Madison, and as Wisconsin’s Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a Global NGO. Laura is also the author of the book #180in120 - How to Recharge Your Business in 120 Days, as well as one of 75 women to be recognized as a Trailblazer by the State of Wisconsin, and a 2017 graduate of the Babson College Goldman Sach’s #10KSB program, a rigorous scholarship entrepreneurship program.
Laura started her business when she was 21 after some encouragement from her consumer behavior professor, Mark Deadman.
“You have to be careful if you give me an idea, because I will run with it. It’s 30 years later and I’m still running with it,” Laura said.
The Creative Company offers all of the services found in a traditional marketing department. They provide the strategic direction, branding, public relations, social media, web development, graphic design and e-commerce services needed for a company to thrive.
“Outsourcing marketing services works well in an unpredictable economy. The Creative Company is essentially the marketing company for companies who aren’t quite in the place where they would have that in house. Or maybe they don’t want it in house,” Laura said, “We’re accountable for results, coordinate strategies, maximizing loyalty and profitability for clients.”
The company of six to eight senior level marketing staff manages and leads 20 or more clients on an annual basis, which are more like partnerships. Laura stressed the importance of these partnerships for both her and the clients.
“I want to have security, and this is the way I provide that to my staff. Clients benefit from revenue gains, decreases in salaries, an outside perspective on their business, high level expertise in marketing strategy, implementation and design and typically, a decrease in overall marketing spend,” she said.
Laura went on to say that security and safety are important to women, and taking risks isn’t something that comes naturally to most women. Women can need more encouragement and coaching than men to take risks, and fear can be a woman’s biggest barrier.
“Do it scared. You have to step into that fear, because that’s how you make it somewhere else,” Laura said.
“We tend to be afraid to try. Women tend to have less confidence across different generations. We don’t lead the lives we are capable of leading,” Laura said, “We are climbing, but man, we’ve got barriers.”
One of those barriers stems from the different reactions male and female entrepreneurs receive when talking about a new business venture. According according to a recent study done by Harvard Business Review, 67% of the questions posed to male entrepreneurs were promotion-orientated, while 66% of those posed to female entrepreneurs were prevention-orientated.
That means that people are going to ask a woman, “Have you thought about this?” versus reinforcing their ideas. It supports the idea that women are more afraid to make mistakes.
“We’re afraid to make mistakes. Just make the mistakes, learn from them as fast as you can and move on,” Laura said.
Laura is the Women’s Entrepreneurship Ambassador for Wisconsin. She became an ambassador because she had a feeling that she had to do something for women in Wisconsin. Last year she organized the first Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) Conference in Madison, which was completely sold-out in its inaugural year. The date is already set for this year: November 19, 2018.
And Laura says that there are steps we can take to move forward. We can learn, read business books, listen to podcasts and in general know what’s happening in the world. One podcast she recommends is Wall Street Journal’s Secret of Wealthy Women. Being educated is everyone’s responsibility, and being aware of what is happening around you can help you be prepared and turn the conversations around.
“I think taking the blinders off and being aware of [the barriers] helps. Being aware that there’s going to be bias,” Laura said. “When you’re pitching, for example, they’re going to ask you those prevention questions instead of opportunity questions, so you’re going to have to be ready for those moments.”
Laura explained that there are plenty of women who are successful. Surround yourself with the most confident and ambitious people you know.
“Surround yourself with people who are certainly focused, but are also balanced in life. If you want to have a successful life it’s about so much more than just making money,” she said.
Another thing that women can do is to walk through the doors. Take the risks, and even though it can be scary, do it anyway.
“We walk through lots of doors in our lives and sometimes you’re going to fall on your head. But you have to take that first step, sometimes wonderful and amazing things can happen on the other side. So that’s all I did, I walked through the doors and then I just kept going, kept growing and doing interesting things,” Laura said.
So what’s next for Laura and The Creative Company? 2017 was a year of learning, of returning to an academic program in entrepreneurship, and of producing the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Wisconsin conference. This year is a year of doing.
“I really pushed hard last year, with everything that I touched. I have high expectations of myself, so I push myself really hard. I want to be present over perfect. We aren’t meant to be perfect, we’re meant to do our best.”