Member Spotlight: Amanda Puppo
CEO of MarketReach, Inc.
MarketReach is committed to improving outreach between businesses and their ideal prospects, while proving the impact such communication has on the bottom line. We strive to build long-term relationships with businesses of all sizes, in diverse industries by acting as an integral sales partner. Our core values are based upon integrity of service and transparency in our processes to achieve performance-driven results.
Can you please introduce yourself and your business and the date it was founded?
My name is Amanda, and I started a company called MarketReach in 2001. We specialize in appointment setting and lead generation. What that means is that we assist business owners and sales people in securing quality meetings and generating leads with their prospects.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I was 25 years old when I was trying to figure out what my next move was and said, “Hey, I’m gonna take a risk and start my own company.” I had very little risk because I was young, after all. I knew there was a gap in sales, people who did not like cold calling, weren’t good at it, but had to prospect to close deals. But I happened to enjoy cold calling, I know, weird, but I do. So that’s essentially how it began. I thought, you know what, I think there’s a gap that can be filled in, basically, getting those opportunities and getting the foot in the door which is the hardest part of the sales process: prospecting. In the first couple years, I did the networking, worked on appointment setting, made cold calls all day for eight hours, and then focused on the business, networking, and marketing communications in the evening.
How has your identity as a woman business owner impacted your journey so far?
When I first started my business, most of my interactions were with men 30-40 years older than me. They would often ask, “Are you a salesperson? Are you the receptionist?” They simply couldn’t grasp the idea that a young woman who appeared to be 21 years old could be the owner of a company, which I suppose in hindsight stands to reason. As I grew older, I still looked youthful, and they continued to doubt that I could be the owner. They would also ask, “Is that your husband? Is he the owner too?” Despite these encounters, I didn’t let it discourage me. Instead, it fueled my determination to succeed. It was perhaps a mix of age and gender bias, but it only propelled me further. I didn’t have access to any exclusive networks at the time, but that was alright because I was a hard worker and a hustler. I pushed forward and focused on working smart to compensate for any disadvantages I faced.
Can you share any challenges you have faced as a business owner and how you have overcome them?
So there were certain things in my first few years that I just didn’t know. I didn’t even realize that you needed more than $3,000 to start a business. Without that, you find yourself pretty much broke in the second or third month with that kind of bank account. You need to be resourceful and figure out ways to handle problems without letting them sink you. But you also need to know when to call it quits. I’ve met with businesses that should have probably quit after their first year. You have to know when it’s not going to work and when to push harder.
One of the lessons I learned is that I’m a naturally conservative person and not a huge risk taker. I like to experiment, but with calculated risks. Most entrepreneurs go all in, mortgage their house, and do all sorts of things. I wasn’t willing to do any of that. However, what I should have done in my second or third year was invest in the business with a bank loan or a line of credit once I realized it was going to make money. I should have invested in a salesperson instead of handling everything myself. I’m good at sales, but there are better people out there. Additionally, I should have hired a professional accounting firm in my second year. I did a lot of things myself. It’s important to really grasp accounting and become proficient at reading profit and loss statements, determining your break-even point, and setting your pricing. There are many questions I wish I had answered sooner.
As a grant recipient, how did you use the grant funds to take your business to the next level?
I’ve made some gestures to show appreciation to my managers. They deserve it, and I believe they deserve even more. Furthermore, I recently surprised my employees with gift cards, which they will receive in the next two days. Looking back, I think with the right decisions, we could have accomplished more, but I am grateful to have a great team. My director has been here for 15 years, and my other two managers play crucial roles in this company. Additionally, the hard work of lead generation, appointment setting, cold calling, and the grind are carried out by dedicated individuals who form the backbone of this company. It’s important to ensure they are rewarded as well.
Can you offer any advice for other entrepreneurs who are just starting their business journey?
Take some courses in accounting. You can hire an accountant if you don’t have the skills yourself. You can’t be an accountant; you won’t be your own accountant, but you need to have the basics down. So if you don’t get that education, also be good at sales because if you’re not planning on hiring a salesman in your first year, you better make sure you’re able to sell and convince customers to say yes. Seek consulting help and get some assistance with prospecting. Get some help there as well, but make sure you have your mind set on maintaining a full sales pipeline each month so that you can close deals